group of visitors and local residents at Jama Masjid in Kalyan. The
Jamaat-e-Hind has been organising visits of non-Muslims to mosques across
Maharashtra for the past few years to bridge the gap between different
Hind Kalyan Group Organises Mosque Visit for City’s Non-Muslims
Muslim University Alumni‘s Book May Create A Flutter Among Muslim Political
Have the Mecca and Medina of Sikhs": Imran Khan Refers To Kartarpur
Taliban to Regard Pakistan as a Brother If in Power, Says Spokesperson
Muslim Lawmakers Irk Pro-Israel Lobby by Backing BDS Movement
Francis Praises UAE for Its Modernity, While Maintaining Its Roots
Christians Fear Returning Home, Wary Of Shia Militia
PM Blair Accused of Spreading Iranophobia with Saudi Money
Sentences Two Brothers to Death for ISIS-Claimed Karak Attack
Injured In Dalit-Muslim Clash in Meerut Village: Police
Five militants killed in Kulgam encounter
on Islamic Revolution of Iran held in Kashmir
Mufti Lauds Imran Khan, Attacks Govt over Ram Mandir
leader says US facing defeat in Afghanistan
years after Rushdie fatwa, blasphemy still a potent weapon
stands ready to support Pakistan,' says Lagarde after meeting PM Khan
of 1 million jobs for youth expected under Kamyab Jawan Programme
Shahbaz asks LHC for 14-day extension in London stay
of Raheel Sharif-led military alliance arrives in Pakistan
to become increasingly expensive, says minister for religious affairs
crown prince’s visit to bring major investment in Pakistan
media not letting people know about Islamic Revolution achievements'
special envoy resumes Afghan peace diplomacy
rally to support Islamic Revolution on 40th anniversary
to withdraw from Syria 'in weeks,' claims top general
‘Repatriates’ 27 Daesh Children From Iraq
Kurds to Start Talks with Syrian Gov't Soon
Continue Protests against Foreign Military Presence in Raqqa, Deir Ezzur
takes helm of the African Union as President Sisi elected chairman
clashes’ as US-backed forces battle ISIS in Syria
in Syria, foreign terrorist suspects may face trial in Iraq
to Ban Religious Symbols on Public Employees
‘deeply saddened’ by Israeli killing of Palestinian teens
may ease strict secularism laws to tackle radical Islam
Moscow talks set off alarm bells in Afghanistan
Russian kids born to Daesh terrorists return home from Iraq
recognizes Gaza, West Bank as official Palestinian birthplaces
says new airstrike in Somalia kills 8 al-Shabaab fighters
hub tag angers Isiolo County leaders
Haram: Army engineer cries over killing of personnel in North East
Calls On China to Close Muslim 'Concentration Camps' Where One Million Uighurs
Have Been Detained
entertainers protest law on ‘pornography’, blasphemy in music
'enemy of Islam'? Actually, we're friends of moderate Islam, Kit Siang tells
toppled leader to go on trial over 1MDB scandal
Abuses amid Monitors Quit, Palestinians Escort Hebron Pupils to School
Vows To Freeze Money Transfers To Palestinian Authority ‘Next Week’
welcomes recent calls for democratic Palestinian general elections
US hold small-scale joint war game
Islamic Revolution inspired, divided militants
says Iran to continue expanding its military might, missile work
committed to settling existing debts
to demolish Palestinian murder suspect’s home
vows to freeze Palestinian funds after Israeli teen killed
Pentagon Chief Lands in Afghanistan, Supports Kabul Role In Peace Talks
Criticizing Vote, US Charts Careful Course On Bangladesh
militants suffer heavy casualties in Takhar and Kunduz operations
attack claims lives of 7 policemen in Farah province
president offers Taliban local office, but group wants Doha instead
warns against lingering Rohingya crisis
direction received to reduce U.S. troops in Afghanistan: Shanahan
by New Age Islam News Bureau
125 non-Muslim men visited the 167-year-old Jama Masjid at Doodh Naka in Kalyan
on Sunday. It is one of the oldest and largest mosques (masjid) in the city.
visit was organised by Kalyan chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), an Islamic
reformist organisation, as part of its ‘Masjid Parichay’ initiative. The
initiative aims to familiarise people with the place of worship.
visitors had never visited a mosque. They explored the building, including the
sanctorum where an imam leads prayers, water pool for performing pre-prayer
ablution (wudu) and the library containing Quran and other religious texts.
visitors were guided by local Muslims. And when the sun set, they watched the
muezzin recite Adhan (call to prayers) followed by a namaz performed by a large
gathering of locals and believers.
large population of our country is ignorant about mosques and how they
function. Several non-Muslims are curious to learn more about these places of
worship. Masjid Parichay provides such curious minds with an immersive learning
experience,” said Mishal Choudhary, Kalyan president of the JIH.
Ali Khan, an Islamic scholar from Aurangabad, explained to the visitors the
importance of Wudu, Namaz And Masjid.
is not merely a religion, but a way of life. Hence, a mosque is more than just
a place of worship. Its objective is to be a centre to resolve pressing
problems facing society. It’s a shelter for the entire humanity and is open to
all,” said Khan.
Ranawade, one of the visitors, said it was a great experience. “I have always
respected mosques. But today I saw how the prayers are offered in a disciplined
manner and how people from all sections of the society come together,” he
Dixit, 15, who visited the mosque with his father Abhinav, said, he learnt a
lot about a different religion. “The visit gave me a new perspective,” he said.
JIH has been organising similar initiatives across Maharashtra for the past few
years to bridge the gap between different communities.
hope that Masjid Parichay paves way for cultural exchange and efforts to
understand each other,” said Choudhary.
Delhi: Mohammed Adeeb’s book which exposes the 50-year Muslim politics will be
released today. The book ‘Zindagi Zara Ahista Chal’ is penned down by Aligarh
Muslim University Alumni Mohammed Adeeb. The book will be released by the
former president of India Mohammed Hamed Ansari at Constitution Club of India.
Eminent personalities like ex-Minister Yashwant Sinha, ex-Minister Farooq
Abdullah, ex-lieutenant general Najeeb Jang, Congress treasurer Ahmed Patel,
ex-Minister Salman Khursheed, former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit, ex-vice
chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia Syed Shahid Mehdi and others will also
attend the programme.
book may create a flutter among Muslims political circles.
Adeeb had also been Rajya Sabha MP.
Have The Mecca And Medina Of Sikhs": Imran Khan Refers To Kartarpur
Pakistan has the Mecca and Medina of the Sikhs and the country is opening up
those sites for the minority community, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said.
Khan in November last year laid the foundation stone for the corridor linking
Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan's Kartarpur - the final resting place of Guru
Nanak Dev - to Dera Baba Nanak shrine in India's Gurdaspur district to
facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims.
Pakistan prime minister was in the UAE on a day-long trip to take part in the
7th edition of the World Government Summit on the invitation of Vice President
and Prime Minister of the UAE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.
have the Mecca and Medina of the Sikhs... and we are just opening up those
sites for Sikhs," Mr Khan said Sunday.
and Medina are the two holiest sites in Islam.
have opened our visa regime. For the first time in Pakistan, we have 70
countries from where people can come and get visas at the airport," the
prime minister said.
Khan said Pakistan has the best tourist potential even though at the moment it
hardly has any tourism.
the world''s highest peaks are in Pakistan," he said, adding that the
country has 1,000 kilometers of coastline.
Khan also said that Pakistan has the oldest historical monuments, probably as
old as anywhere in the world. "We have Indus Valley Civilisation, which is
5,000 years old. We have Peshawar, the oldest living city in the world, 2,500
years old. Lahore and Multan are ancient cities.
have the Gandhara civilisation, which was the cradle of Buddhist civilisation,
in the north of Islamabad. The biggest sleeping Buddha, 40 feet, is in Haripur.
We have some of the greatest and highest number of Sufi shrines all over
Pakistan," he said. Mr Khan said they are opening up the country for
Sahib in Pakistan is located across the river Ravi, about four kilometres from
the Dera Baba Nanak shrine. It was established by the Sikh Guru in 1522. The
first Gurdwara, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, was built here, where Guru Nanak is
said to have died.
Kartarpur Corridor, which will facilitate the visa-free travel of Indian Sikh
pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, is expected to be completed
of Sikh devotees from India visit Pakistan every year to celebrate the birth
anniversary of Guru Nanak.
had proposed the corridor to Pakistan around 20 years back.
Taliban to regard Pakistan as a brother if in power, says spokesperson
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid has said that they would regard Pakistan
as a “brother and neighbour” and seek ties based on mutual respect if they ever
rose to power in Afghanistan.
to a local news outlet, the Taliban spokesperson said that during the Soviet
invasion, Pakistan was the most important hub for the refugees fleeing
Afghanistan and most of them considered Pakistan as a second home.
about the ongoing talks with the United States, Mujahid said that they are
holding the talks with the US on their own initiative. He said that even before
the US invasion of Afghanistan, they had asked Washington to engage in dialogue
instead of a war. He also said that the Taliban had opened a political office
in Doha in 2013 but the US had been unwilling to enter into talks with them.
Since the US has now agreed to the talks, we have decided to engage with them,
spokesperson denied Pakistan’s role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiation
table. He said that no outside country is playing any role and the idea of
engaging in talks has always been the Taliban’s own initiative and policy.
also outlined a vision for the future Afghan political system. He said that all
ethnicities would be represented in the government and all will serve and look
after the country’s affairs without any arguments. However, he declined to
elaborate “before the right time”.
about the objectives of the Taliban, he said that while they do not have any
specific manifesto, their objectives have been always been clear. They want an
end to Afghan occupation, the establishment of an Islamic government,
reconstruction of the country and the provision of administrative services and
the establishment of peace and security in Afghanistan.
the current constitution of Afghanistan, he said that it was draft under
“American occupation and interests”, adding that since the Afghan population is
100 per cent Muslim, the constitution should be in line with the teachings of
Islamic law. For this purpose, scholars will be gathered and required changes
will be made in the constitution to make it Shariah compliant, he added.
a reference to the concerns raised by women who fear a return to the
restrictions imposed on them 20 years ago when the Taliban were in power, he
said that in the past “we were in the very early stages of forming our
political ideology” and the problems that did exist were because of the
measures that were the need of that time given the preceding war and the
corruption that existed in the society. He said that now things were different
and the intellectual capacity of the people has expanded, therefore, there
would not be a problem in affording men and women their rights.
response to a question about the ongoing attacks in Afghanistan, he said that
the talks are still in process and no conclusion has been reached. “We are
forced to wage war. Our enemies are attacking us, therefore, we are also
combating them,” he added. He further said that as long as Afghanistan remains
under occupation, talks would not amount to much, therefore, in order to
resolve internal issues, it is necessary to put an end to the occupation.
also explained the Taliban’s stance of refusing to hold talks with the
incumbent Afghan government, saying that holding talks with the Kabul
government would imply acceptance of its legitimacy while “it was imposed upon
us by aircraft and the bombing of invaders”. In light of a total refusal to
accept an imposed government, all agreements achieved between us and the Afghan
people will be binding, he added.
also denied the notion that negotiations between two opposing powers would
amount to a partnership, rather it would only help achieve a mutual resolution
outstanding issues and the reestablishment of peace and stability in the
country. He said that
to a question about Taliban’s support and protection to Al Qaeda leaders some
20 years ago which ultimately led to US invasion of Afghanistan, he said that
the Taliban had only sheltered those foreign Mujahideen who arrived during the
period of jihad against the Soviet Union and had continued to stay in
Afghanistan. He said that protecting them was a religious and cultural
necessity. However, he added, no one needed the Taliban’s protection now and
they would not allow anyone to harm others from Afghan soil.
about the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan, he said that there
have been no discussions on this matter nor have they proposed any such idea.
Muslim lawmakers irk pro-Israel lobby by backing BDS movement
first two Muslim women in the US Congress have angered the pro-Israel lobby by
openly supporting the internationally-recognized Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Omar and Rashida Tlaib, who became the first Muslim members of the House of
Representatives in January, have been outspoken about their criticism of Israel’s
crimes against the people of Palestine.
has accused the Tel Aviv regime of discrimination against Palestinians similar
January, she enraged the large pro-Israel contingent in Congress, particularly
the largely Democratic US Jewish community, by mocking America’s branding of
Israel as a democracy.
I see Israeli institute laws that recognize it as a Jewish state and does not
recognize the other religions that are living in it, and we still hold it as a
democracy in the Middle East, I almost chuckle,” Omar told Yahoo News.
I know that if we see that in another society we would criticize it — we do
that to Iran, any other place that sort of upholds its religion,” she added.
37-year-old lawmaker was born to a family of Somali refugees and represents
Minneapolis, Minnesota, a district with a large Somali population.
appeared unapologetic about her position during a CNN interview on Tuesday,
saying the outcry was "exciting."
not surprising. I think it is actually exciting because we are finally able to
have conversations that we weren't really willing to," Omar said. "It
is really important for us to get a different lens about what peace in that
region could look like and the kind of difficult conversations we need to have
on the other hand, has argued that the BDS movement can draw attention to
“issues like the racism and the international human rights violations by Israel
42-year-old lawmaker has Palestinian roots and represents a district of
suburban Detroit, Michigan, which is home to a large number of Muslims.
and its allies in Washington have long railed against the BDS, which was
launched over a decade ago and calls for people and groups across the world to
cut economic, cultural and academic ties to Tel Aviv.
on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in 1960s, the international
effort also calls for sanctions against Israel.
and Tlaib’s support for BDS comes at a time when President Donald Trump has
stepped up ties with Israel and stopped Palestinian aide.
Minority Kevin McCarthy said Saturday that he would take action against the two
lawmakers if Democrats fail to do so.
they do not take action I think you’ll see action from myself,” said the
California lawmaker. “This cannot sustain itself. It’s unacceptable in this
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to address thje pro-BDS of Tlaib and Omar.
is while a number of other Democratic leaders, including Representative Ted
Deutch, the chairman of the House Middle East subcommittee, and Representative
Eliot Engel, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, have condemned the
a number of US states have already passed legislation and policies that would
punish supporters of the pro-Palestinian movement, the first proposed federal
law to fight to that end was introduced in the Senate last month.
who hold the majority in the chamber, teamed up with more than half of the
Democrats to approve the bill.
a significant number of Democrats have opposed it arguing that it would violate
the right to freedom of expression, which is protected in the constituent.
response to Tlaib, Omar and other pro-BDS lawmakers, prominent members of the
Democratic Party formed the Democratic Majority for Israel last month, calling
themselves “The Voice of Pro-Israel Democrats.”
Rosenfeld, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary
Anti-Semitism at Indiana University, told AFP that the widening rift could cost
the party swing to the far left and appear to be way out of line with America’s
traditional ties to one of its strongest allies, Israel, the party will surely
suffer at the polls,” he warned.
Francis praises UAE for its modernity, while maintaining its roots
Pope Francis has praised the UAE, describing it as a “modern country looking to
the future without forgetting its roots.”
in a video message broadcast Sunday at the first day of the World Government
Summit in Dubai, he said he hoped his visit to the UAE last week was the start
carry in my heart the visit I just made to the UAE and the warm welcome I
received,” he said.
encountered a modern country looking to the future without forgetting its
roots. I saw a country seeking to transform into concrete initiatives the words
tolerance, fraternity, mutual respect and freedom.”
Francis’s historic visit to Abu Dhabi last week was the first by a pontiff to
the Arabian Gulf and saw him lead the biggest open mass to be held in the
region with a 180,000-strong congregation.
said he returned home from a country that had risen from the desert in the hope
that others could be equally successful.
believe it is possible,” he said.
only if we grow together, alongside one another, with openness and respect, willing
to take on everyone’s problems.”
world governments, he spoke of political challenges, economic development,
environmental protection and the use of technology.
said he hoped the question underlying their reflections would not only be “what
are the best opportunities to take advantage of?”, but rather “what kind of
world to we want to build together?”
Francis explained that this question pushed people to think of others rather
than capital and economic interests.
is a question that does not look to tomorrow, but further into the future, to
the responsibility weighing upon us,” he added.
on this world of ours to those who will come after us, preserving it from
environmental degradation and, even before that, from moral degradation. We
cannot speak of sustainable development without solidarity.”
the Pope’s visit to the UAE he met with the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif
University and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb.
pair signed a pledge of commitment to tolerance and fraternity at the end of a
day which also saw the Pontiff visit the Presidential Palace of the UAE and the
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Cooperation, said the Pope’s visit was historic and provided opportunities for
opens a new page in the history of religions and in the dialogue of religions,”
are two people of peace but who could have ever thought that those two symbols
would overcome all limits and constraints to sign a new agreement of peace to
overcome violence and hatred?”
said their meeting in Abu Dhabi last week was aimed at relaying an important
they said to the world: peace is hard to achieve but it is not impossible,” he
might wonder why those two religious symbols insist on brotherhood and the
answer lies in one word: peace. Therefore, all of us should be courageous
enough and assume our responsibilities to put an end to conflict and wars – we
might not succeed but we will most definitely try,” he said.
Christians fear returning home, wary of Shia militia
Only a fraction of Christian residents has returned to the northern Iraqi town
of Bartella, two years since it was liberated from Islamic State militants.
fear intimidation by the town's population of Shabak, a Shiite Muslim ethnic
group that dominates the militias now running Bartella. The tensions are a sign
of the sectarian splits around northern Iraq in the wake of the defeat of the
Islamic State group.
large cross in Bartella's main square is one of few overt signs this town was
a massive billboard shows Shiite Muslim martyrs alongside a photo of Iran's
Ayatollah Khomeini. Posters of Iranianbacked Shiite militiamen killed in
fighting with the Islamic State group hang on streets all around the city,
along with banners to revered historical Shiite saints
PM Blair accused of spreading Iranophobia with Saudi money
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his private organization have been
accused of receiving money from Saudi Arabia to spread biased views against
was speaking on Sunday to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge when he was asked about the
huge cash he and the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) had received from the Saudi
government and its subsidiaries and how that money had influenced him in his
of our viewers as well, that’s in the public domain, will be questioning the
fact that the Tony Blair Institute has received money from a group called Media
Investment Ltd, close to the Saudi regime, they may think that’s partly why
you’re talking out about it (Iran),” Bridge asked the former premiere.
TBI, launched only three years ago, signed a huge contract with the Saudi
regime in 2018 to allegedly advise the kingdom on some modernization plans.
the interview, Blair tried to evade the question by offering general responses.
British premier from 1997 to 2007 said the West should continue to “push back”
reason why I speak about these things, and I’ve spoken about the power of Iran
for a long period of time, is because it has nothing to do about backing Saudi
vs Iran,” said Blair, adding, "If you look at the 40 years of the Iranian
Revolution what’s interesting is that ideology is still very powerful.”
than a decade after he left power, Blair is still hated in Britain and
elsewhere in the world for his major role in launching the US-led war on Iraq
documents that emerged years after Blair’s resignation have shown that his
government used false and fabricated intelligence documents to mislead the
British public and win parliamentary support to enter the deadly war along with
the administration of former US President George W. Bush.
sentences two brothers to death for ISIS-claimed Karak attack
Jordanian court sentenced two brothers to death on Sunday in connection with a
2016 attack claimed by ISIS extremist group, overturning a life sentence handed
to the men last year.
shooting attack in Karak, killed seven policemen and two Jordanian civilians as
well as a female Canadian tourist, and wounded 34 other people.
head of the kingdom’s state security court, a military tribunal, ordered Khalid
al-Majali and Hamza al-Majali to be “hanged to death”.
cassation court, the kingdom’s highest judicial body, reversed a November
ruling which sentenced the two to life behind bars.
actions of the defendants caused chaos, panic and horror among Jordanians and
foreign tourists and threatened the country’s security and stability,” a
judicial source told AFP.
two brothers were initially charged, along with eight others, with “terrorist
acts”, illegal possession of arms and producing explosives.
were sentenced to 15 years in prison and five others to serve three years in
in Jordan, the target of several deadly attacks, regularly put on trial
close ally of Washington, the kingdom is part of a US-led coalition fighting
ISIS in neighboring Syria and Iraq, and it allows coalition forces to use its
injured in Dalit-Muslim clash in Meerut village: Police
persons sustained injuries in a clash between Dalits and Muslims at Durveshpur
village in Meerut’s Sardhana town Sunday morning. Both the groups have filed
FIRs blaming each other for the incident, police said.
injured have been identified as Ankur Prajapati (25), Ganga Sharan Sonker (32),
Shabbir (25), Kawarjaha (32), Shaukat (28) and Ramzan (26). They were taken to
the hospital where the condition of Sonker and Shabbir was stated to be
critical, police said.
said the argument started on Wednesday between Ankur and Shabbir after the
former’s bicycle hit the latter’s. Elders from both the sides brought the
situation under control, they added.
the situation escalated into a brawl on Sunday after Ankur and his friends
allegedly attacked Shabbir and his family members at their residence. Bullets were
allegedly fired by both sides and they also pelted stones on each other. We
have lodged an FIR under IPC section 147 (rioting) but no arrests have been
made so far. Adequate police force has been deployed in the village to prevent
further trouble,” said Dharmendra Singh Rathore, in-charge of Sardhana police
Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants were killed in an
encounter with security forces in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district on Sunday
morning. At least 20 civilians were injured in clashes that followed between
security personnel and stone-throwing youth near the encounter site.
J&K Police spokesperson said a cordon and search operation was launched by
a joint security team in Kellam area of Devsar in Kulgam early Sunday following
inputs about the presence of militants in the area.
the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the terrorists.
The fire was retaliated, leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, 5
terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved,” said the police
a CRPF spokesperson said four personnel were injured in the stone-pelting.
Kulgam Harmeet Singh said the militants were hiding in a house in the village
and when the area was cordoned, they were asked to surrender, but they refused.
He said the operation lasted for more than six hours.
Feb 10 (KNS): On the occasion of 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution of
Iran, Anjuman-e-Sharie Shian Jammu and Kashmir organized a seminar at Central
Kashmir's Budgam district on Sunday.
expressed great endurance and faith towards the Islamic revolution by
participating in the function.
Shia and Sunni religious scholars including Zahid Ali, Khurshid Ahmed Qanongo,
Mufti Nasirul Islam, Aga Syed Yousuf Almosvi, Molvi Gulzar Ahmed, , Ghulam
Ahmed Niyazi described various aspects of Islamic revolution and role and
character of Imam Khomeini (R.A).
said, the revolution of Islamic Iran is an asset of whole Muslim Ummah.
of Anjuman-e-Sharie Shian and senior Hurriyat leader Aga Syed Hassan Almosvi
Alsafvi congratulated the Iranian leadership and its nationals.
paying tributes to the martyrs of Islamic revolution Aga Hassan said, this
revolution diverted the attention of Muslim world towards the significance of
Islamic system and its teachings.
said, no one could stop to the success of such movement which is based on
truth, right principles and wishes of common people. Iranian revolution is a
vital example of that.
paying rich tributes to Muhammad Maqbool Bhat and Muhammad Afzal Guroo, he
said, India used much force and power to suppress the voice of Kashmiris but
could not succeed. It is not possible the permanent peace in Kashmir unless and
until acceptable solution. India's disinterest in dialogue process proves weak
stand towards Kashmir issue.
speakers said that the purpose of the Iranian Revolution and Imam Khomeini was
the divine purpose because it was for Islam and religion and Kashmir has to
move towards the Iranian revolution when it comes to love and respect,
brotherhood and unity would be established on the basis of religious and
academic success as well.
Mufti lauds Imran Khan, attacks govt over Ram mandir
PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday praised Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan
for taking steps to name a forest reserve after Guru Nanak Dev, but hit out at
the Centre saying its "top priority" seems to be renaming ancient
cities and building Ram temple in Ayodhya.
times change. Centre's top priority is seemingly renaming historic cities &
building Ram Mandir. On the other hand, heartening to see that Pak PM has
initiated steps to name Baloki forest reserve after Guru Nanak ji & create
a university under his name," the former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister
times change. Centre’s top priority is seemingly renaming historic cities &
building Ram Mandir. On the other hand , heartening to see that Pak PM has
initiated steps to name Baloki forest reserve after Guru Nanak ji & create
a university under his name.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S)’s newly chosen head Maulana Hamidul Haq
Haqqani said on Sunday that they would spare no effort to promote the vision
and accomplish the mission of late Maulana Samiul Haq.
was talking to reporters after a meeting of the JUI-S Majlis-i-Shura at Darul
Uloom-i-Haqqania in Akora Khattak.
meeting unanimously appointed Maulana Hamidul Haq, the son of Maulana Samiul
Haq who was killed in Rawalpindi last year, as head of the party for a
constitutional term. Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Hamidul Haq said he
would reorganise the party across the country.
said all conspiracies against Islam and Pakistan would be foiled. “We will
protect and defend the Islamic provisions of the constitution,” he added.
Hamidul Haqqani claimed that the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan had
proved that the struggle for the freedom cannot be suppressed with force.
said the Taliban who followed the political ideology of Maulana Samiul Haq
defeated the US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan. He said that the JUI-S believed
that ‘jihad’ was the only way for the success of the freedom movements.
urged the US to shun its arrogance and announce a date for the withdrawal of
its forces from Afghanistan.
to the prevailing political situation in the country, he said that Pakistan was
faced with a host of challenges. He called for holding a national conference to
come up with a strategy to steer the country out of the prevailing crises.
the JUI-S leaders vowed to continue the mission of the slain party leader
Maulana Samiul Haq. They vowed to foil all efforts to make the country a
secular state and assured cooperation to the new party head Maulana Hamidul
meeting’s participants also demanded the government to bring the killers of
Maulana Samiul Haq to justice. They said that anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan
elements were behind his assassination.
Samiul Haq was assassinated at his residence in Rawalpindi in November last
year. Maulana Hamidul Haq was leading the party as acting head since then.
spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for
Rushdie’s murder in 1989
years after Iran called for the killing of Salman Rushdie, the British novelist
remains a figure of hate for extremists across the Muslim world, and though the
level of outrage has dropped, the issue of blasphemy is as incendiary as ever.
novel “The Satanic Verses” triggered mass protests from London to Islamabad
and, analysts say, closed down the space for debate around Islam in a way that
still resonates today.
spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued the fatwa calling for
Rushdie’s murder on February 14, 1989.
day earlier thousands of protesters enraged by the novel’s publication had
attacked the American Cultural Centre in Islamabad. Five people were killed in
the ensuing clashes with police.
journalist Shahid ur Rehman told AFP he was among the first to arrive on the
scene that day, and watched as men stormed the roof of the centre and pulled
down its American flag while police fired tear gas, then live bullets.
said the novel came as a rude shock to a Muslim world which was “basking in
Iranian revolution was just a decade old and the Soviet Union was on the verge
of a collapse after being driven out of Afghanistan by the US-backed
mujahideen, with Muslims in general and Pakistan in particular claiming credit
for the defeat of an empire.
novel, and the fatwa which followed, were “like a dam breaking”, Rehman said.
the novelist is “hated as much… as he was hated back then”, said Pakistani
religious scholar Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi.
were widespread protests across Pakistan after the death sentence of Asia Bibi
“people cannot protest consecutively for 30 years,” he added.
over blasphemy remains effervescent among Islamic hardliners, however.
the last ten years in Pakistan, politicians have been assassinated, European
countries threatened with nuclear annihilation and students lynched over the
case of Asia Bibi — a Christian woman whose death sentence for blasphemy was
overturned in Pakistan last year, sparking days of violence and drawing global
attention to religious extremism in the South Asian country — is just the
said the publication of the novel “justified” laws against blasphemy — without
them, he argued, “people like Rushdie will keep hurting the religious
sentiments of Muslims”.
calls to reform the laws have provoked violence in Pakistan, and for some the
fatwa helped blur the lines between blasphemy and intellectual debate across
the Muslim world.
such as Khalid Ahmed, author of a book on Pakistan’s sectarian divide, say the
fatwa marked the beginning of a “terrible decline” of intellectual discourse in
journalist Rehman covered the 1989 protest against Rushdie’s work in Islamabad
call for blood was “catastrophic for the freedom of creation, literature and
thought”, Egyptian journalist and novelist Ibrahim Issa said.
fatwas had been issued against writers in the past, he said — but usually by
small, extremist groups. Khomeini’s was the first issued by an Islamic state.
was a dark moment that, thirty years later, reminds us how dangerous the
interference of religion in freedom of expression (is)”, he told AFP.
supreme leader Ali Khamenei has on numerous occasions reiterated the verdict on
Rushdie, most recently in 2015.
Iranian government vowed it would not act on the fatwa in 1998, but such
decrees are “not revocable”, Mehdi Aboutalebi, cleric and doctor of political
science at the influential conservative think-tank Imam Khomeini Educational
Research Institute in Qom, told AFP.
if 800 years pass, the sentence remains the same,” he said.
fatwa has caused multiple diplomatic rows over the years —- as have other cases
of blasphemy, such as the controversy over satirical Danish cartoons of the
Islamic prophet printed in the right-wing Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005.
and religion are often intertwined in Iran, Aboutalebi explained, echoing a
sentiment expressed in other Muslim countries.
instance, Iran’s quarrel with US is not over money or economy…. This is all
about our beliefs and our religion,” he said.
fatwa shows “we will not tolerate anyone breaking our belief boundaries”.
the furore over Rushdie interests only “the most radical ayatollahs”, said
Clement Therme, research fellow at the Iran International Institute for
booksellers remain cautious and refuse to stock Rushdie’s books
are experiencing “revolutionary fatigue”, he said, as Tehran hunts for friends
amid criticism over its regional policies and disputed nuclear programme.
a context of increased isolation of Iran, realpolitik requires Iranian leaders
to avoid escalation on this issue,” Therme said.
Pakistan, where Rushdie’s books have been available on the black market for
years, “Joseph Anton: A Memoir” — which recounts his time in hiding after the
fatwa — is quietly but openly on sale in at least one bookstore in the capital.
most booksellers remain cautious.
Minister Imran Khan on Sunday met International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing
Director Christine Lagarde on the sidelines of the World Government Summit
taking place in Dubai.
prime minister tweeted that there was "a convergence of views"
between him and Lagarde when it came to "the need to carry out deep
said that these reforms would "put the country on the path of sustainable
development in which the most vulnerable segments of society are
press release issued by the IMF said Lagarde's meeting with the premier had
been "good and constructive".
meeting was held to discuss conditionalities that have held up Pakistan's
accession to the Fund's bailout programme.
discussed recent economic developments and prospects for Pakistan in the
context of ongoing discussions toward an IMF-supported programme," Lagarde
was quoted as saying by the statement.
reiterated that the IMF stands ready to support Pakistan."
IMF chief said she highlighted during the conversation that Pakistan could
"restore the resilience of its economy" through "decisive
policies and a strong package of economic reforms".
the PTI government's policy agenda, Lagarde said protecting the poor and
strengthening governance were "key priorities to improve people’s living
standards in a sustainable manner".
technical staff-level contact through video-link is due this week and may be
followed up by Finance Minister Asad Umar next week,” said a senior government
official, adding the two sides might still meet at the staff level if needed,
lot of work still needs to be done, but a final agreement should be in place by
April and implementation start rolling in June,” said the official, adding that
all policy actions would revolve around the next year budget. “We have reached
broad understanding and will stay engaged.”
said the revenue collection target for the next fiscal year would be worked out
by the IMF and it could be well above Rs4.7 trillion, compared to about
Rs4.39tr this year fixed by the government. More upward adjustments in central
bank’s policy rate and exchange rate depreciation would be part of the
understanding, they said.
adjustments in energy prices, expansion in revenues, reduction in losses of
public sector entities, further autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan,
market-based currency exchange rate and deep-rooted structural reforms are key
areas under the future assistance package from the IMF. The two sides had
already agreed on the way forward but had differences over the sequencing as
the government wanted the passing of ‘further pain’ on to people next year.
statement released by the Ministry of Finance on Twitter said deliberations
between Pakistani authorities and IMF staff will continue "to finalise an
agreement on the contours of a programme".
ministry said that the premier "appreciated IMF's support to Pakistan and
shared his vision for nation-building".
Minister Khan also expressed the government's commitment to undertake
structural and governance reforms and to strengthen social protection in the
country, the statement added.
also said that the IMF managing director recognised the steps taken so far by
the government to bring stability to the economy. She expressed the Fund's
desire to remain engaged with Pakistan in ensuring that economic recovery is
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said the Khan-Lagarde meeting would
"give us a chance to understand the IMF views and we will be able to give
our version to [the] IMF chief", Radio Pakistan reported. Chaudhry stated
that Pakistan wants "a fair deal that can actually help Pakistan in the
short-term without affecting our long-term economic goals".
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stressed that Islamabad wanted to proceed
with the bailout package under conditions that would not put an unjustified
burden on the common man.
issue in IMF bailout talks
IMF is asking for an adjustment of around Rs1,600-2,000 billion over three to
four years. It also wants some corrective measures to put Pakistan’s economy on
the right track after witnessing the highest-ever current account deficit.
the stumbling issue in the talks is the pace of adjustments in the current
expenditure. The emphasis on current expenditures comes as a result of a focus
on what is known as a ‘primary balance’ in the parlance of public finance.
senior official involved in the negotiations earlier told Dawn, there is some
space for a cut in certain expenditures where Pakistan is in a comfortable position.
"This agreement in cut will pave way for accession to the programme,"
the official claimed, adding it will be a politically difficult decision.
cut in the current expenditures still seems to put the government in an awkward
position by making adjustments in subsidies and other special grants.
IMF has been demanding that the burden of any expenditure cuts should fall on
current expenditures that include debt service, defence, and subsidies.
Previous governments decreased development expenditures when undertaking the
Fund’s adjustment and usually left current expenditures alone (other than
the official had said there is certain non-development spending which cannot be
discontinued or reduced.
primary balance of a government’s budget is the difference between revenues and
expenditures after removing interest payments. It tests whether the path of
debt accumulation of any country is sustainable or not.
this is in deficit then it means that at least some of the interest payments
due in the given year will have to be made through borrowing.
the primary deficit requires a cut in current expenditures, and usually becomes
necessary when reducing debt-to-GDP ratio is a priority.
Division’s Spokesperson Dr Khaqan Najeeb had told Dawn that productive
dialogue continues with IMF on all areas including fiscal, energy, structural
reforms and monetary policy. Discussions are part of regular ongoing
interaction between government and IMF and will continue in coming weeks as well,
he had said, adding that "technical level subject-specific discussions
also support the process of overall dialogue".
to Najeeb, the government has already taken several policy measures including
an increase in interest rate, gas and electricity tariffs along with revenue
Ministry of Finance recently announced that the Federal Board of Revenue’s
(FBR) target would not be revised downward following a revenue shortfall of
Rs191bn in the first seven months.
FBR has been asked to take administrative measures including revival of tax on
mobile phone cards to cover up the shortfall in reaching the budgetary target.
Fund has also asked for further monetary tightening as well as a complete free
float of the exchange rate.
are already moving towards the target in these areas," the official had
said, adding the IMF has acknowledged these measures.
to the official, the finance minister has already conveyed to the IMF during
recent parleys that only those measures will be taken which are favourable for
the country’s economic growth.
federal government anticipates the creation of 1 million jobs under the Kamyab
Jawan Programme, an aggressive small and medium enterprise lending scheme which
is expected to stimulate job creation and economically empower the youth.
Jawan, which falls under the Prime Minister's Youth Programme, is a
collaboration with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority
Youth Affairs Department official, Abdul Rasheed, was quoted by APP as saying
that Smeda would find the top business ventures in local and international
markets to facilitate young Pakistanis.
said that Smeda would impart vocational and technical training to the youth,
while the department would extend maximum support for the improvement of
technical and vocational training.
added that Smeda would also educate and facilitate the youth to provide
training to others in the development cycle.
PM’s Youth Affairs initiative will extend its facilities to the maximum
possible number of youngsters in order to create more employment opportunities
in the marketplace, Rasheed stated.
United Nations Development Programme's 'Pakistan National Human Development
Report' estimates that more than 29 per cent of country’s population consists
of young people between the ages of 15-29 years.
Youth Empowerment Programme (Kamyab Jawan Pakistan) aims at creating
opportunities for knowledge, skills and leadership development of the youth to
further the "Agenda 2030".
Assistant to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar last month chaired a
meeting of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to discuss the launch of the
National Youth Development Index (NYDI) survey, which seeks to "capture
data, for the first time in our national history, on almost 100 indicators to
gauge education level, employment status, health conditions, social engagement
trends, and overall well-being of young people aged 15-29 at a district-level
across Pakistan," according to the adviser.
leader Hamza Shahbaz petitioned the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday to permit
an extension his stay in London.
is facing a National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation into Ramzan
Sugar Mills and holding assets beyond his known sources of income. He flew to
London in the first week of February after the court ordered the removal of his
name from the Exit Control List and granted him conditional permission to
travel abroad for 10 days.
Azam Nazeer Tarar filed the petition today on behalf of the PML-N leader.
in his petition, appealed to the court to allow him to stay on in London for
two more weeks with his newborn daughter who is to undergo a cardiac procedure
due to complications at birth.
will return as soon as she recovers, the petition stated.
court is expected to hear Hamza's petition tomorrow.
delegation of former army chief Gen (r) Raheel Sharif-led Islamic Military
Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC) arrived in Pakistan on Sunday during it’s
first-ever visit to the country.
visit comes ahead of the Saudi crown prince’s scheduled visit to Pakistan on
February 17. A special aircraft carrying the delegation arrived at Islamabad’s
Nur Khan air base.
to reports, the two-day visit is considered to hold strategic importance under
current circumstances. The delegation will return to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
visiting delegation is likely to hold key meetings with the civil and military
leadership of the country. The military officials are expected to meet Senate
Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi besides Chief
of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Joint Chiefs of Staff
Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat.
former army chief will also hold a special meeting with Prime Minister Imran
Khan where matters pertaining to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s
upcoming visit to Pakistan will be discussed, reports said.
security situation and measures taken against terrorism will also be discussed
in the meetings.
December 2018, Gen (r) Raheel had dismissed the notion that the military
coalition was aimed against any particular country, nation or sect without any
said this while briefing the Senate chairman, who was on an official visit to
Saudi Arabia, on performance and objectives behind formation of the military
alliance. The former COAS said the basic objective of IMCTC was to fight
against the menace of terrorism until its eradication.
Arabia had acquired the services of Gen (r) Raheel as head of the IMCTC cobbled
together in December 2015.
is likely to sign a number of investment deals, including the construction of a
multi-billion-dollar oil refinery in the port city of Gwadar during the
upcoming visit. The Saudi crown prince will follow-up on agreements signed
between the two countries during Prime Minister Imran’s visit to the KSA last
Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Dr Noor ul Haq Qadri on
Sunday said that the Hajj pilgrimage will become more expensive the coming five
made the comments while talking to Geo News’ programme Geo Parliament.
explained the pilgrimage would become expensive as Saudi Arabia has said that
all countries should gradually hand over Hajj packages to the private sector in
the following three to four years.
said that Pakistan and other countries would have to accept Saudi Arabia’s
demands. In addition, the minister elaborated that Saudi Arabia has also
increased expenditures for the pilgrimage worldwide.
announcement by Qadri comes in the wake of a recent decision by the federal
cabinet to cease providing subsidies on Hajj, raising the cost of performing
the Hajj by 63 per cent.
to State Minister Ali Mohammad Khan, Saudi Arabia is primarily responsible for
the hike in cost, explaining that 70 per cent of costs are incurred in the
A number of major investment deals are expected to be signed during Saudi Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s upcoming visit to Islamabad, according to
Saudi sources have confirmed to AFP that the heir apparent to the Gulf
kingdom’s throne will visit Islamabad shortly, without giving a date. Officials
from both countries confirmed to AFP that a number of deals are expected to be
signed during the visit.
and Islamabad, decades-old allies, have been involved for months in talks to
hammer out details of the deals in time for the high-profile visit.
record investment package being prepared by Riyadh for Islamabad will likely
provide welcome relief while also addressing regional geopolitical challenges,
the heart of the investment is a reported $10 billion refinery and oil complex
in the strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea, the ultimate destination for
the massive multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which lies
not far from the Indo-Iranian port of Chabahar.
outcome of the talks so far has been very positive and this is going to be one
of the biggest-ever Saudi investments in Pakistan,” a senior finance ministry
official told AFP.
hope that an agreement to this effect will be signed during the upcoming visit
of the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan,” said the official, requesting
Wall Street Journal reported last month that both Saudi Arabia and the United
Arab Emirates, Islamabad’s biggest trading partner in the Middle East, have
offered Pakistan some $30bn in investment and loans.
investments are expected to provide a lifeline for the economy which was
downgraded in early February by S&P ratings agency from a B to a B-, Saudi
economist Fadhl al-Bouenain said.
investment to Pakistan comes within an economic aid package aimed at relieving
the stress of external debt and a shortage of foreign currency, besides
boosting the sluggish economy,” Bouenain told AFP.
Opec heavyweight also aims to achieve strategic and commercial goals with
investments in infrastructure and refinery projects, he said.
Arabia and its Gulf partner, the UAE, have already deposited $3bn each in the
State Bank of Pakistan to help resolve a balance of payments crisis and shore
up its declining rupee.
have also reportedly deferred some $6bn in oil imports payments as Islamabad
has so far failed to secure fresh loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Minister Khan has already visited Riyadh twice since taking office in July, and
in October attended a prestigious investment conference widely boycotted by
other political and economic figures after the murder of dissident journalist
also visited Qatar and Turkey, as well as China, seeking investments.
of the goals for Saudi Arabia expanding investments in refining worldwide is to
secure market share and sustainable exports in the face of international
competition,” Bouenain said.
Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih visited Gwadar in January and inspected the
site for the proposed oil refinery at the deep sea port, just 70 kilometres
away from Chabahar.
was quoted by local media as saying the kingdom was studying plans to construct
a $10bn refinery and petrochemicals complex in Gwadar.
most oil suppliers, the world’s top crude exporter has been investing heavily
in refinery and petrochemicals projects across the globe to secure long-term
buyers of its oil.
pipeline from Gwadar to China would cut the supply time from the current 40
days to just seven, experts say.
as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative with investments worth some $60bn,
Gwadar is being billed as a regional industrial hub of the future, easily
accessible for Central Asia, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa.
needs a rich partner to enter as a third party besides China, capable of
injecting needed cash,” Bouenain said.
so far China has rejected other partners for the corridor that seeks to connect
its western province Xinjiang with Gwadar, including Saudi Arabia and UAE, said
James M. Dorsey, a senior fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of
is despite calls by Khan “for the Chinese investments to be restructured to
include agriculture and job-creation sectors and not only in infrastructure”,
Dorsey told AFP.
Saudi investment in Gwadar will also have geopolitical dimensions, Dorsey said.
late last year inaugurated Chabahar which provides a key supply route to
landlocked Afghanistan and allows India to bypass Pakistan. India has seen
Chabahar as a key way both to send supplies to Afghanistan and to step up trade
with Central Asia as well as Africa.
Riyadh is not expected to get involved in any Indo-Pakistani rivalry and the
kingdom also has major strategic energy deals with New Delhi, where demand for
oil is growing fast.
mainstream media in the West keep people in the dark about the “positive
achievements of the Islamic Revolution,” says political commentator Dr. Kevin
made the comments in an interview with Press TV when asked about the remarks by
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the 40th anniversary of
the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
his supporters via a televised speech broadcast live from the Lebanese capital
Beirut on Wednesday evening, Nasrallah praised the outstanding achievements
made in Iran since 1979.
Hezbollah leader said Iran has made great achievements under the rule of the
Islamic Jurisprudence, and is now leading in the region concerning the number
of university students, international researchers and scholars, share of
science production besides activities in the fields of nanotechnology, space
technology and sports.
(Nasrallah) is absolutely right that the Islamic Revolution in Iran has had
some amazing achievements,” Barrett told Press TV.
in the West, in the corporate-controlled mainstream media, we’re not allowed to
hear about the actual positive achievements of the Islamic Revolution,” he
endlessly told that there are terrible economic problems in Iran, and we’re not
told that in fact, since 1979, Iran has made tremendous strides, rising in the
human development index, the poverty level has gone way down, education has
gone way up, in particular women’s education has gone from state under the Shah
of Iran… in which very sizable percentage of Iranian women were not even
literate to the state today where the majority of university students and even
teachers at many levels are women,” he added.
terms of economy,” Barrett said, “Iran is doing rather well considering the
fact that it’s been boycotted and attacked in every possible way by the world’s
most powerful countries.”
is very very important both in terms of the way it’s managed to persist and in
some respect even thrived despite the hostilities it endured since its Revolution,”
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad left
Washington on Sunday on yet another peace mission that includes talks in
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Qatar.
on Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban were welcome to open
an office in Kabul, Kandahar or Nangarhar to continue the peace talks that have
so far been held in Doha, Qatar.
a Taliban spokesman later told reporters that they would prefer to stay in
Doha, where they have had an office since 2013, and would try to get
international recognition of this outpost.
Washington, the US State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad and his
interagency delegation would also consult officials in Belgium, Germany and
Turkey before arriving in the region for further talks. The trip, which began
on Sunday, will continue till Feb 28, when the chief US negotiator is expected
back in Washington for consultations.
State Department said the trip “is part of an overall effort to facilitate a
peace process that protects US national security interests and brings all
Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can
determine a path for their country’s future”. Ambassador Khalilzad will meet
“our allies and partners to discuss mutual efforts to advance that goal and
will consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip”, the statement
US envoy said at a Washington think tank on Friday that Pakistan had played a
positive rule in facilitating peace talks and also released a senior Taliban
leader, Mullah Baradar, at his request. He said the US administration
recognised Pakistan’s role and wanted better relations with this “important
a visit to the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar on Sunday, President Ghani
said he was offering the Taliban an office in Afghanistan because he wanted the
peace talks to be held on the Afghan soil. The Afghan president has already
made several attempts to engage the Taliban, but the insurgents continue to
refuse to hold directs talks his government.
said he had previously offered the Taliban to meet Afghan officials in Makkah
to sanctify the peace talks but instead they went to Moscow. “The nation says
that they did not go to Makkah but they went to Moscow and they want to know
why,” he added.
Ghani said he was expected to give up his position for peace but he could not
do so because he was elected to this post and he did not want to compromise
those who voted for him. He is seeking re-election in July.
the Afghan government was kept out of the Moscow talks held last week, an
official from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council said that some parts of the
Moscow resolution would be added to their agenda.
of Iranians from all backgrounds have taken to the streets around the country
to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution at a time of
intensified US-led pressure.
marks the climax of the Ten-Day Dawn commemorating the period between February
1, 1979 when Imam Khomeini returned from exile and the anniversary of the
Revolution that ended 2,500 years of monarchical rule in Iran.
year on this day, the nation turns out in droves to highlight support for the
Revolution which replaced the US-backed regime with an Islamic Republic.
in many cities have braved the cold weather as they descended on main
crossroads to renew their allegiance to the country's Islamic principles at a
time of rising economic and political pressure.
year, the United States unilaterally abandoned an international nuclear pact
with Iran and reimposed its toughest sanctions ever, in a move which is viewed
as a regime change attempt against the Islamic Republic.
National Security Adviser John Bolton had said the outcome of the country's
policy review should be to determine that Iran's Revolution would not last
until its 40th birthday. "And that’s why, before 2019, we here will
celebrate in Tehran!” he had told a convention of the terrorist MKO group in
Paris in 2017.
of thousands of people have headed to the iconic Azadi (Freedom) Square in
Tehran amid chants of "Death to America," where President Hassan
Rouhani is right now delivering a speech to the nation. You can watch the live
of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei is expected to make an
"important" address in the coming days, media reports said on Sunday.
is set to publish "a detailed statement explaining the 'second step' of
the progress of the Islamic Revolution," the website of the Leader
Khamenei said on Friday the Iranian nation will keep chanting "Death to
America" as long as the United States remains evil.
US is the embodiment of evil, but still complains why you chant ‘Death to
America’,” the Leader said, referring to President Donald Trump's remarks last
said Iran "chants death to America and threatens genocide against the
Jewish people," adding "We will not avert our eyes from" the
to America means ‘death’ to you, the few people ruling the country; we don’t
mean the American nation,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.
officials have adopted an extremely hostile policy toward Iran under the Trump
administration, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledging to “starve”
Iranians until they give in to American demands.
is calling for new negotiations which would include restraining Iran's missile
program and its role in the Middle East as well as the country's support for
anti-Israeli resistance movements, such as Hezbollah.
officials have stressed that the country would not negotiate its missile
capability under any circumstances.
Monday, life-size replicas of cruise and ballistic missiles lined the route to
Azadi Square in Tehran.
recent days, the country has unveiled new missiles to highlight its latest
achievements on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
them are the Dezful precision-guided missile, which is being produced at a
secret underground plant, and the cruise missile Hoveizeh.
withdraw from Syria 'in weeks,' claims top general
top American general is claiming that Washington is “right on track with” its
supposed Syria withdrawal.
Army General Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, made the comments Monday
long after President Donald Trump ordered withdrawal of ground forces from war
terms of the withdrawal … I think we’re right on track with where we wanted to
be,” Votel told reporters travelling with him during a trip to the Middle East.
“Moving people is easier than moving equipment and so what we’re trying to do
right now is again [to] kind of clear out those materials, that equipment, that
we do not need.”
when the withdrawal may begin, he answered: “Probably weeks. But again, it will
all be driven by the situation on the ground.”
Inherent Resolve is the name of a US military campaign launched in August 2014
after the Daesh terrorist Takfiri group overran large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
US has ever since maintained military presence in Syria without any
authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
President Donald Trump called for a
swift troop pullout on December 19, alleging the defeat of Daesh and surprising
many within the US establishment and abroad.
announcement further resulted in the resignation of Secretary of Defense James
Mattis, US anti-Daesh coalition envoy Brett McGurk and Pentagon chief of staff
Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney who disapproved of the president's decision.
‘repatriates’ 27 Daesh children from Iraq
A Russian official said Sunday that Moscow had repatriated a fresh batch of
children whose mothers are being held in Iraq for belonging to Daesh.
Russian children have been repatriated from Baghdad,” a Russian Foreign
Ministry official said.
other children were sent back to Moscow in late December.
fathers of the children were killed during three years of fighting between the
militants and Iraqi troops, the official said.
seized large swathes of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive, before the
government dislodged the militants from urban centers and eventually declared
victory in December 2017.
Kremlin announced in early January that 115 Russian children aged below 10 —
along with eight aged between 11 and 17 — were still in Iraq.
law allows detainees to be held with their offspring until the age of three,
but older children have to live with relatives.
November, Kheda Saratova — an adviser to Chechnya’s authoritarian leader Ramzan
Kadyrov — estimated “around 2,000” widows and children of Russian Daesh
fighters were still in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
100 women and children, mostly from Caucasus republics, have returned to Russia
4,500 Russian citizens had gone abroad to fight “on the side of terrorists,”
Russia’s FSB domestic intelligence agency said last year.
than 300 people, including around 100 foreign women, have been sentenced to
death in Iraq for belonging to Daesh, while others have been sentenced to life
in prison. Most of those convicted are Turks or originate from former republics
of the Soviet Union.
home countries do not want them and holding trials in Syria is not an option:
Now suspected foreign militants could end up facing tough justice over the
border in Iraq. Both countries have suffered for years at the hands of Daesh
and Iraqi courts have already meted out hefty sentences to hundreds of
foreigners detained on its soil, often after lighting-quick trials.
fate of foreign fighters in Syria has come into sharper focus since President
Donald Trump’s announcement in December that the US will withdraw its troops
from the war-torn country.
have been grappling for weeks with the question of foreign fighters detained by
the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned that they may not be
able to guard their jails once US troops leave.
Arabic-language Basnews quoted Azad al-Barazi, a senior member of the Syrian
Democratic Council, as saying on Sunday that given the Syrian government's
positive reaction to demands for talks, negotiations between the Kurds and
Damascus will start.
also said that reports about the US forces' withdrawal from Syria are just
attempted at propaganda, and reminded the fact that there is still no specific
timetable to this end yet could partly unveil the reality of this propaganda
described the US pullout, even if it happens, would only be a minor issue that
will happen in insignificant numbers.
relevant remarks in January, a senior Kurdish official said that the Kurds were
seeking negotiations with Damascus as they resisted against Turkey's attacks.
has deepened the crisis in Syria and supported terrorism financially. When it
failed in its policies, it sent its army to launch attack against Afrin,"
Fouzeh Yousef, the head of the executive board of democratic federalism in
Northern Syria, was quoted as saying by the Arabic-language al-Akhbar
protesters voiced their opposition to the presence of the US and French troops
and their meddling in their country's internal affairs while calling for their
exit by hoisting Syria's flag.
Syrian citizens also condemned the recent threats by Turkey while calling for
the presence of the Syrian Army to all parts of Raqqa and Deir Ezzur to put an
end to the presence of terrorists and occupying forces in these areas.
protesters also condemned the destruction caused by the US-led coalition
fighter jets in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces in the last several years,
including tens of bridges along the banks of Euphrates and Khabor as well as
main roads, crucial passageways, schools and other infrastructures in Raqqa
over the past years.
protests by the Syrian citizens in these regions are underway as the US troops
have blocked the entry of humanitarian aid convoys by the International Red
Crescent Society and the Syrian government to Eastern Euphrates.
a relevant development in late January, a large number of people poured into
the street in Eastern Deir Ezzur to show their protests against the US-backed
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
of the town of Abu Humman in Southeastern Deir Ezzur launched massive protests
and closed the roads leading to the town, battlefield sources in Eastern Deir
sources reiterated that the civilians staged massive protests against SDF's
measures, including piling up fuel products, corruption and other offenses in
residents of Deir Ezzur called for releasing the people who have been arrested
by the SDF fighters," they said.
residents of Shaitat town in Southeastern Deir Ezzur also held massive protests
and called for their rights with regard to oil revenues.
report comes as the armed tribesmen had clashed with SDF fighters in the town
of Khasham over control of oil resources of the region.
popular uprising in Deir Ezzur is taking place while Raqqa was also scene of
protests and clashes between civilians and SDF fighters over the past three
a relevant development in early December, a large number of people poured into
the street in a key town in Northeastern Hasaka, calling for the withdrawal of
the US and Turkish troops and their allied militants from their region.
reported that a large number of civilians, social activists and parties in the
town of Qamishli took to the streets, opposing occupation of the region by the
US and Turkish troops.
further said that the protestors condemned a visit by the former French Foreign
Minister to al-Jazeera region controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF),
calling for independence of the Syrian parties from the US policies and asking
for their affiliation to Damascus again.
protestors, also, opposed US forces' illegal bases and presence of militants,
affiliated to Turkey and the US, in Syria as a violation of international law
and against Syria's national unity and integrity, SANA said, adding that the
protestors called for expulsion of the occupiers and their allied militants
a relevant development in Northeastern Syria, media activists reported last
month that protesters took to the streets and called for the expulsion of the
US army men and the SDF from the city of Raqqa in Northeastern Syria.
of Raqqa residents revolted against the US deployment and SDF forces in
al-Mansour district of Raqqa city and called for their expulsion," media
activists in Raqqa said.
sources, meantime, said that the Raqqa residents in their slogans called on the
Syrian army to free the region from the occupiers, and said that the protests
took place after the SDF forces launched attacks on civilians which resulted in
the eruption of clashes between the two sides.
the meantime, the SDF forces arrested several protesters in a new wave of
suppression of civilians.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has been elected chairman of the African Union
at the continental body’s summit in Ethiopia.
Egyptian leader addressed the summit, saying he would focus on security in the
election brought to an end the one-year chairmanship of Rwanda’s President,
Union chairmen set agendas of issues to be addressed during their one-year
his tenure, Kagame dramatically challenged the election results in the
Democratic Republic of Congo.
leaders have been absent from African Union meetings since 1995 when an
assassination attempt was made on the life of former leader Hosni Mubarak.
forces were locked in fierce fighting as they pressed the battle against the
last shred of ISIS’s “caliphate” in eastern Syria on Sunday, a war monitor
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by a US-led coalition, announced a
final push to retake the extremist pocket near the Iraqi border late Saturday,
after a pause of more than a week to allow civilians to flee.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported heavy clashes between both sides
on Sunday morning, as coalition planes and artillery bombarded extremist
battle is ongoing. There were heavy clashes this morning, with landmines going
off,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based war monitor.
SDF launched an offensive to expel ISIS from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor
Kurdish-led alliance has since whittled down extremist-held territory to a
patch of just four square kilometers on the eastern banks of the Euphrates.
to 600 fighters could still remain inside, most of them foreigners, according
to SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali.
fighting intensified in December, more than 37,000 people, mostly wives and
children of extremist fighters, have fled out into SDF-held desert areas, the
Their home countries don’t want them and holding trials in Syria isn’t an
option: now suspected foreign terrorists could end up facing tough justice over
the border in Iraq.
countries have suffered for years at the hands of the Daesh group and Iraqi
courts have already meted out hefty sentences to hundreds of foreigners
detained on its soil, often after lighting-quick trials.
the final shred of the once-sprawling terrorists “caliphate” crumbles in
eastern Syria, Kurdish-led forces backed by the US have captured hundreds more
diehard foreign fighters.
American military — which spearheads an international coalition fighting Daesh
— has in the past shown itself willing to hand those captured in Syria to the
authorities in Iraq.
August AFP attended the Baghdad trial of 58-year-old French citizen Lahcene
Gueboudj, who said he had been spirited from Syria to Iraq by US troops.
Wille of Human Rights Watch said the organization knows of at least five
instances in which US forces handed foreign detainees over to Iraq’s Counter
include Australian and Lebanese citizens transported out of Kurdish-controlled
areas, at least one of whom was eventually sentenced to death in Iraq.
justice can be harsh and its courts have doled out death or life sentences to
hundreds of foreigners accused of being Daesh members, including some 100
who come from Syria can expect similar treatment.
are at risk of torture and unfair trials in Iraq,” Wille warned.
has stepped up pressure on its reluctant allies to bring home hundreds of
terrorists, but the issue is politically sensitive in countries like Britain
hit by repeated deadly Daesh attacks, has so far opposed returning terrorists.
But since Trump’s announcement, Paris has said it is studying “all options.”
a visit to Iraq this week, French Defense Minister Florence Parly warned of the
need “to avoid some terrorists ending up in the wild and dispersing.”
Al-Hashimi, a researcher on terrorists movements, told AFP that a deal appears
to have been struck with Iraq “at the very highest level and in secret” to tackle
a pact allows foreign fighters’ countries of origin to avoid politically
fraught repatriations; in exchange, Iraq will receive “ultra modern arms and
crucial military equipment,” Hashimi said.
can put anyone on trial who passed through its territory, even if they didn’t
fight there and just headed to Syria,” he said.
while such a deal might solve a headache for politicians, it has raised serious
concerns among relatives and representatives of those detained.
lawyer Vincent Brengarth, who is handling the cases of some of those detained,
questioned “how it could be justified that Iraqi courts would have
jurisdiction” over crimes committed in Syria.
officials say Kurdish forces in Syria are currently detaining some 60 adult
Roy, a member of a group of around 70 French families with relatives who went
to Daesh territory, said it would be “tragic” if captives were handed over to
law means that anyone found guilty of joining a “terrorist group” can face the
death penalty and its justice system has been accused of providing scant chance
for a fair trial.
number of foreign fighters have already been sentenced to death in Iraq,
although three French terrorists tried so far have been handed life terms that
equate to 20 years in prison.
to ban religious symbols on public employees
Geneva residents on Sunday voted for a controversial new “secularism law”,
which will among other things ban elected officials and public employees from
wearing visible religious symbols.
than 55% of voters in the Swiss canton backed the law, final results showed,
despite warnings that it could lead to discrimination, particularly against
Muslim women. Some critics think it might violate the constitution.
Canton, which for centuries has been a centre of religious freedom and
tolerance, has been striving to replace a law on the books since 1907.
new law’s stated ambition is to expand the dialogue between religious groups
and the state, and to better define the limits to religious expression in the
say it will help clarify existing principles in the Geneva Constitution to
protect the religious freedom of believers and non-believers alike.
right-leaning cantonal parliament adopted the text last April. It also has the
backing of Geneva’s three main religious communities, the Protestant Church,
the Roman Catholic Church and the Old Catholic Church.
the far left, the Greens, feminist organisations, unions and Muslim groups all
opposed it, and collected enough signatures to force the issue to a public
claim the law will have an oppressive and discriminatory effect, with some
condemning it as Islamophobic and warning that Muslim women who wear a
headscarf are being targeted.
in Geneva are already banned from wearing visible religious symbols, including
the hijab. The new text would extend this ban to elected officials and any
local or cantonal public employees who comes in contact with the public.
legal appeals have been filed against the new text which could block it from
being adopted, despite Sunday’s vote.
Geneva Evangelical Network has lodged an appeal against a provision in the text
that would ban religious gatherings in public.
second appeal has been lodged by the Green Party against a last-minute
amendment to the text banning elected officials and cantonal and local government
employees who have contact with the public from wearing visible religious
am hopeful that the courts will side with us, since this law goes against the
Swiss Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights,” Sabine
Tighemounine, a local elected official for the Green Party who wears a Muslim
headscarf, told the ATS news agency Sunday.
vote did not spell final defeat, she said. “The process is just getting
Geneva vote was among a range of local, regional and national issues voted on
across Switzerland Sunday as part of the country’s famous direct democratic
the national level, voters resoundingly rejected an initiative brought by the
Green Party’s youth wing, which called for a law to rein in urban sprawl by
blocking zoning of new construction land.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed sorrow over the recent
killing of two Palestinian teenage boys by Israeli gunfire in the Gaza Strip,
calling for an end to violence against children.
Shtewi, 17 or 18, and Hasan Shalabi, 14, were shot dead by Israeli soldiers in
Gaza on Friday during “The Great March of Return” weekly protests.
a statement released on Saturday, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle
East and North Africa Geert Cappelaere said that the agency was “deeply saddened”
by the killings.
is another stark reminder of the significant violence that children in the
state of Palestine continue to endure. As we mark 30 years since the Convention
on the Rights of the Child, it is essential that the fundamental rights of
children be respected,” he added.
further called for an end to violence against children in the occupied
is time that violence against children ends [sic],” he said. “Children are
children. They must be protected at all times. Children should never be a
target. Nor should they be exposed to any form of violence, by any party.”
Saturday, thousands of Palestinians attended the funerals of the slain Gazan
March of Return demonstrations are held every week to demand the right to
return of the Palestinians driven out of their homeland by Israeli aggression.
They also demand a halt to Israel’s inhumane blockade of the Gaza Strip, which
has deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.
forces use live ammunition against protesters in Gaza.
grand mosque is an extraordinary sight. Covered by a 40ft wide copper dome and
flanked by soaring wings, it has become a cultural landmark in the city since
its completion in 2012, attracting not just worshippers but also a steady
stream of school groups and tourists.
extraordinary in France, a country where the separation of the state from
religion is rigorously enforced under a law dating back to 1905, public
authorities provided the mosque with a prime riverside plot and put up a third
of the €8.7m budget (£7.6m) to build it.
rules apply here, because the Alsace-Moselle border region where Strasbourg lies
was temporarily part of neighbouring Germany in 1905, and the French laicité
(secularism) law was not applied after it…
Afghans and political observers say they fear the talks hosted by Russia last
week have harmed the prospect of long-term peace and given the Taliban
insurgents the upper hand in negotiations with the United States.
two-day Moscow meeting was the first time senior Afghan politicians held talks
with the militants directly, and the resulting joint declaration issued on
Wednesday endorsed some of the group’s demands, such as the complete
withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the release of Taliban
prisoners and removal of Taliban leaders from a UN blacklist.
an unlikely photo-op afterwards, Taliban members and mainstream politicians –
including former president Hamid Karzai, former national security adviser
Hanif Atmar, opposition leader Atta Mohammad Noor and Mohammad Mohaqiq, who
was last month sacked as deputy chief executive by President Ashraf Ghani –
stood side by side and declared the meeting a success.
depends on what you see as success,” Hekmatullah Azamy, deputy director at the
Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul, told The National.
getting the Afghan side to sit with the Taliban, then it was surely a success,
but we should measure success with how the US views this meeting.”
has made no official comment, but did not voice its opposition.
Azamy acknowledged that the US stance on the involvement of Russia and even
Iran in Afghan affairs had changed since special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad took
charge of the peace effort in September, holding several rounds of talks with
the Taliban at their political office in Doha, and also in Abu Dhabi.
US had no objection with the Afghan elites attending this meeting,” he said,
comparing it with Moscow’s failed attempt to hold a similar meeting last year
that was abandoned after Afghan politicians chose not to attend, fearing US
the lack of direct talks between the Taliban and the government, owing to the
group’s refusal to negotiate with what it considers to be a puppet regime,
complicates efforts to end the insurgency.
appears to be a confrontation of sorts between the various approaches to
peace,” Mr Azamy said.
the US is pressuring the Taliban to talk to the government, Mr Azamy said the
Moscow meeting strengthened the insurgents’ negotiating position and influence.
Taliban made military progress in the last year, but with this meeting they
have also gained certain political status and legitimacy, in terms of local
diplomacy,” he said.
see them recognised by the Afghan political elite should worry the government,
because in some ways it brings the Taliban into the mainstream.
next time they sit with the US, the Taliban can say confidently that the Afghan
people don’t have a problem with them. This will affect the Afghan government.”
Ghani yesterday made another attempt to engage with the Taliban, renewing an
offer to allow them to open an office in Afghanistan, but this was rejected by
Azamy said the president handled the issue of the Moscow talks
didn’t show strong opposition because it could have affected the declaration of
the meeting,” he said.
suggested the document might have included direct criticism of the government.
“But they are between a rock and a hard place,” he said.
spokesman Haroon Chankansuri dismissed the legitimacy of the meeting and the
significance of the ensuing declaration.
Moscow meeting was a political and academic discussion on peace and the
declaration was a summary of the two-day summit. It is not an executive outcome
on peace,” he said.
Afghans also object to the absence of the government at the Moscow talks,
including some critics of Mr Ghani.
took to social media to register their objections using the hashtag
#UDontRepresentMe and called for the Taliban to talk to the government.
shouldn’t let the people who ruined our childhood in their war for power ruin
our present and future too,” Salma Alkozai, a civil servant from Kabul, said on
have come together to repeat history. The history that we are still struggling
to wash off of our identity.”
Stanikzai, an Afghan student of international trade law, echoed that sentiment.
are not to be trusted,” she told The National. “If the Taliban truly want
peace, our government has an office they can negotiate with.
Afghan constitution can also be amended and they can bring all the changes they
want, but in a more institutionalised manner.”
said the government had made a lot of progress in peace efforts with the
Taliban, including the historic Eid ceasefire last year.
said the government had also increased pressure on the Pakistani government to
stop supporting the insurgents and agreed a peace deal with Gulbuddin
Hekmatyar, leader of the Hizb-e-Islami group.
Stanikzai said a similar situation involving the Taliban and president Mohammad
Najibullah in the 1990s should serve as a warning.
the Taliban made the same promise with Dr Najibullah – he was willing to
negotiate with them but when they entered the capital, they murdered him,” she
don’t want peace or pardon for the atrocities they committed – they want the
fall of the government and chaos so they can once again take control of the
Kabul academic said he was concerned by how politicians had reversed their
positions towards the Taliban in Moscow, and the possibility of US forces
who went to Moscow are the ones who have been fighting the Taliban on the front
lines,” he said.
president Hamid Karzai did not provide the Taliban office space during his
tenure, but now it’s part of the declaration.
Atmar signed the bilateral security agreement with the US on his second day in
the last government, which allowed US troops to stay and fight the Taliban, but
now he is calling for a withdrawal.”
Khalilzad said after talks with the Taliban last month that they had agreed on
a draft deal that included the withdrawal of US forces in exchange for a
ceasefire, intra-Afghan talks and a guarantee that Afghanistan would not
Russian official says Moscow has repatriated a new group of children whose
mothers are being held in Iraq over their membership in the Daesh Takfiri
terrorist group and involvement in criminal acts in the country.
Russian children have been repatriated from Baghdad,” an unnamed Russian
Foreign Ministry official said on Sunday.
December 30 last year, 30 Russian children born to Daesh terrorists were sent
back to Moscow from Iraq.
Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova said on December 4 that Moscow had
received hundreds of requests from the widows of Daesh terrorists who were
slain either in Iraq or Syria over the past few years, to return home.
said over 1,000 requests had been submitted to Russian authorities, adding that
the women had “sustained an unimaginable violence.”
further noted that the repatriation of the Daesh widows is a difficult process
given the fact that they have been involved in acts of terror and their return
could pose a threat to the safety of Russian citizens.
April 29, 2018, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which is the country's
flagship criminal justice institution, found 19 female Russian citizens guilty
of “joining and supporting Daesh” and handed down life sentences to them.
court issued the verdicts as the women, all accompanied by small children,
attended the hearing.
Sabsabi, a Russian senator and deputy chairman of the Senate's Foreign
Relations Committee, had earlier warned that the Russian women would face death
penalty, noting that most of them had denied their charges.
pointed out that there were children, less than three years of age, who were
kept in jail along with their mothers.
to a report published by Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Mashriq newspaper, more than
1,500 women and children from the families of Daesh militants are currently
being held in the Arab country, and the Baghdad government is coordinating with
their respective countries to decide their fate.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations
against Daesh in the country on December 9, 2017.
July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which
served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.
the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd
al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.
forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of
fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.
in the Netherlands have allowed Palestinians living in the country to register
the besieged Gaza Strip and the West Bank as their official places of birth,
instead of registering under such designations as 'the Israeli-occupied
territories' or 'unknown'.
State Secretary Raymond Knops, in a letter addressed to the House of
Representatives in The Hague on Sunday, stated that he intends to add Gaza and
the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, to a list of official states
used by the Dutch civil registry.
added that the new category is in accordance with “the Dutch viewpoint that
Israel has no sovereignty over these areas.”
Dutch minister further highlighted that the new category was named based on the
Oslo Accords and the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
news outlets reported that the new category will be available to Palestinians
born after May 15, 1948, when Israeli forces displaced some 700,000
Palestinians, forcing them to flee to different neighboring countries. Israeli
soldiers also wiped nearly 500 Palestinian villages and towns off the map,
leaving an estimated total of 4.7 million Palestinian refugees and their
descendants dreaming of an eventual return to their ancestral homeland more
than six decades later.
Israeli-occupied land was the only birthplace available to Palestinians
registering in the Netherlands up until 2014. The category “unknown,” also
known as code “0000,” was made available to Palestinians living in the country
after opposition to listing Israel as their birthplace.
the UN General Assembly and at least 136 countries have recognized Palestine as
a sovereign state, the Netherlands has refused to do so.
United States military says it has killed eight al-Shabaab extremists with an
airstrike in southern Somalia.
US Africa Command statement says Friday's strike hit near Kobon, not far from
the port city of Kismayo.
US says Kobon has been used to stage attacks against Somali forces. Its
statement says no civilians were killed in the airstrike.
US military has carried out at least a dozen such airstrikes this year in
Somalia against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, the deadliest Islamic extremist
group in Africa.
United States has dramatically stepped up airstrikes against al-Shabaab since
President Donald Trump took office. Experts say it will take more than
airstrikes to defeat the extremists, who continue to carry out deadly attacks
in the Horn of Africa nation and neighbouring Kenya.
leaders and security officials have been angered by reports profiling the
county as an Al-Shabaab hub, saying the narrative is hurting the local economy
and tainting the devolve unit’s image.
at Isiolo Girls High School on Saturday over the 100 per cent transition policy
to secondary schools, the leaders said the county is not a centre for
by the county’s deputy governor Abdi Issa, Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo, Isiolo
North MP Hassan Oda, County Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa and County
Commissioner John Ondego, they said the negative profiling is scaring away
investors and tourists.
said the media has negatively focused and sensationalised the issue of
radicalisation, a problem they maintain is national rather than local.
the leaders acknowledged that a number of local youths were lured into joining
Somalia’s Al-Shabaab terror group even though those involved in terrorist
activities have also been drawn from other counties.
Ondego said no Isiolo youth has crossed over to Somalia last year, a positive
indication that anti-radicalisation campaigns were finally bearing fruit.
agree that our children have been affected but we cannot profile Isiolo as an
Al-Shabaab hub since the perception is killing our economy,” said Senator
year, a county action plan on countering violent extremism was launched with
security officers backing use of hard and soft approaches to countering
Dullo, who blamed high unemployment rates, poverty, and drug abuse for making
the local youth easy targets for recruiters, defended the county insisting that
only one suspect involved in the last month’s Dusit office complex attack was
Salim Gichunge, one of the terrorists involved in the recent attack was from
Isiolo and had disappeared in 2015.
boys who participated in the recent attack were from other regions too
including Kiambu. Why is it that Isiolo is the one mostly featured!” she
Muslim clerics also dismissed reports aired by a local TV station that five
mosques and football playing grounds were being used as radicalisation hubs as
cited by an Al-Shabaab returnee who was interviewed.
clerics through their umbrella body, the Council of Imams and Preachers of
Kenya (CIPK), demanded an apology within 14 days from the media house.
deputy governor claimed that the television programme which aired the expose’
was trying to ‘finish’ Isiolo economically and marginalize the county more
since leaders were not interviewed.
is no mosque and I want to repeat and refute.. …I am ready to resign as deputy
[governor] of Isiolo if you tell me that there is a mosque that is encouraging
and promoting terrorism because I normally conduct my prayers there. We are
against it,” said Mr Issa.
next week, he said the county will urge prominent clerics to speak to youths to
Ameh Comrade Godwin
personnel of the Nigerian Army attached to the Nigerian Army Electrical and
Mechanical Engineers (NAEME) have been killed in the fight against insurgents
in the North East, a top commander of the service has revealed.
of the NAEME, Major General J.B. Olawunmi, who made this known at the weekend
to newsmen, lamented that some officers and men of the corps have paid the
supreme price in the service to the nation, especially in the counter-terrorism
operations in the North East, Daily Sun reports.
praying that Almighty God would grant the souls of the slain soldiers eternal
rest and quicken the healing of their injured colleagues, General Olawunmi said
that the corps’ training activities for the year 2018 were successfully
conducted, with the attendant improvement in the performance of personnel.
commander spoke at the 2018 West African Social Activities (WASA) of the for
corps, saying, “I must not fail to acknowledge the fact that nothing would have
been achieved without the support of the Chief of Army Staff, who graciously
provided all the resources needed to perform effectively. He graciously
approved the establishment, renovation of our NAEME barracks in Auchi, Edo
State, among others too numerous to mention here.”
calls on China to close Muslim 'concentration camps' where one million Uighurs
have been detained
has called on China to close the “concentration camps” where the country has
detained more than a million Uighurs Muslims.
ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said China’s treatment of the Turkic Muslim
population was "a great cause of shame for humanity".
said the Turkic Muslim population faced pressure and "systematic assimilation"
in western China and added that Turkey had shared its opposition on "all
levels" urging authorities to close the detention facilities and respect
has intensified a clampdown on Uighurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang
that was put in place after a bloody 2009 riot.
of Uighurs have fled, many travelling to Turkey, where the language and culture
are similar to that in Xinjiang.
than one million people are believed to have been detained so far by Chinese
foreign ministry spokesman, Mr Aksoy, said he had learned of the death in
prison of famed Uighur musician and poet Abdurehim Heyit, who had been
sentenced to eight years over one of his songs.
tragedy has further reinforced the reaction of the Turkish public opinion
towards serious human rights violations committed in the Xinjiang region,"
Mr Aksoy said.
expect this legitimate response to be taken into account by the Chinese
authorities. We respectfully commemorate Abdurehim Heyit and all our kinsmen
who lost their lives defending their Turkish and Muslim identity.”
detention is indicative of China's determination to crack down on Uighur
intellectuals and cultural figures in an effort, some say, to eradicate a
separate Uighur language and identity.
death has not been independently confirmed and China had no immediate response
to the minister's remarks.
months of denying their existence, Chinese authorities under increasing outside
pressure acknowledged the system of camps, terming them vocational training
have provided little or no information on how many are interned within them and
how long they are being held.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had once accused China of "genocide"
but has since established closer diplomatic and economic relations with
Indonesian entertainers have rallied against a draft law that seeks to ban
blasphemous and “pornographic” music content, which critics say could be used
to clamp down on freedom of expression in the Muslim-majority nation.
than 100 protestors – many carrying placards or playing guitars and drums –
took to the streets of Bogor, near Jakarta, on Sunday to demonstrate against
the proposed law.
online appeal calling for the vaguely worded bill to be scrapped has been signed
by nearly 270,000 people.
the proposed law, musicians would be prevented from “bringing negative
influences from foreign cultures and/or degrading human dignity” in Indonesia.
well as cracking down on blasphemous and “pornographic” content, it imposes
onerous new requirements on musicians, such as carrying out competency tests to
legislation, which is being considered by parliament, could see musicians
jailed or fined for failing to comply.
say the vague wording of the draft law could lead to misuse by authorities.
Riyadi, who initiated the petition on behalf of a coalition of concerned
musicians, said the bill is “very dangerous and could be the gateway for a
group of people to persecute the creative process of people they dislike.”
Anang Hermansyah, who is on the committee that drew up the bill, has been
quoted as saying the goal was to strengthen Indonesia’s entertainment industry
and that the details could still be changed.
is not clear why the bill suggests banning foreign influences and
“pornographic” content – or what would be classified as pornographic content in
90% of Indonesia’s more than 260 million people identify as Muslim but the vast
majority practise a moderate form of the religion.
foreign artists have occasionally found themselves in the cross-hairs of
religious conservatives or fallen afoul of the country’s censors.
star Lady Gaga cancelled a concert in 2012 because of security concerns after
Islamist hardliners promised “chaos” if she entered Indonesia.
LUMPUR, Feb 8 ― Lim Kit Siang today sought to fend of accusations that the DAP
is an “enemy of Islam”, by pointing out that the party had consistently back
those who believed in a moderate version of Islam which is in line with a
pointed out that DAP worked together with PAS in the Barisan Alternatif in
1999-2001 and Pakatan Rakyat from 2008-2015 on the basic of common principles
and not opportunism, and ended these alliances when the Islamist party became
insistent with the push for an Islamic State and its support for ex-prime
minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
is always a 'friend of Islam' which is moderate and tolerant which will make
Malaysia a world top-class nation and not an extremist and intolerant Islam
which divide Malaysians and will destroy
the Malaysian Dream,” the Iskandar Puteri MP said in a statement.
claimed the reason why PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang accused the
DAP of being a “enemy of Islam” was because the latter was trying to divert
public attention from the withdrawal of his legal suit against Clare
Rewcastle-Brown, editor of Sarawak Report and an out-of-court settlement which
enabled the original Sarawak Report article on Najib allegedly giving RM90
million to PAS to remain online.
this week, Abdul Hadi sought to explain why PAS ended its alliance with DAP
some years back, and in doing so accused the latter party of being an “enemy of
toppled leader Najib Razak will go on trial this week over an extraordinary
financial scandal that contributed to the downfall of his long-ruling coalition
and reverberated around the world.
former prime minister and his cronies are accused of stealing $4.5 billion from
Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB in a mind-boggling fraud that stretched
from Switzerland to the Seychelles.
money was purportedly used to fund a global shopping spree — a $250-million
super-yacht, high-end real estate, and Monet and Van Gogh artworks were among
the items allegedly bought with cash plundered from public coffers.
scandal ensnared celebrities, with the fraud’s suspected mastermind seen
partying with Leonardo DiCaprio and Paris Hilton, while the new Malaysian
government has accused Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs of stealing billions
during its work with 1MDB.
revulsion at the graft allegations played a large part in the election defeat
of Najib — who set up the fund — and a coalition that had ruled Malaysia
uninterrupted since independence from Britain in 1957.
his shock poll loss in May, the 65-year-old has been arrested and hit with 42
charges linked to the scandal. He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
from keeping quiet, the aristocratic ex-leader has mounted a publicity blitz,
seeking to present himself as a man of the people and constantly hurling jibes
at the new government.
week’s trial, starting Tuesday, centres on allegations that 42 million ringgit
($10.3 million) was transferred from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit,
into Najib’s personal bank accounts.
case involves three counts of money-laundering, three of criminal breach of
trust — where someone is accused of dishonestly using something entrusted to
them — and one of abuse of power. Najib has pleaded not guilty to all the
is just one of several trials Najib is expected to face over 1MDB and involves
a fraction of the total purportedly stolen from the fund, and the $681 million
that allegedly ended up in his personal accounts.
the start of the first trial is nevertheless a key moment, and may relieve
pressure on the new government following criticism that it has been slow to act
an important moment, albeit a very delayed one,” said Cynthia Gabriel, who was
a member of a government committee set up to investigate the scandal.
is very critical for the new government to address and resolve past scandals,”
added Gabriel, head of the non-profit The Center to Combat Corruption and
former leader and his defence team have portrayed the cases against him as
revenge by the new government led by 93-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir
Mohamad, Najib’s mentor-turned-nemesis.
Shafee Abdullah, Najib’s chief lawyer, labelled the upcoming trial “political”.
you give me a straight judge, a straight system of justice, and the witnesses
are left to themselves without being coached, I’ll win this case,” he told AFP.
dates have been set until the end of March and prosecutors are expected to call
dozens of witnesses.
abuses amid monitors quit, Palestinians escort Hebron pupils to school
in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron escorted children to school Sunday,
saying protecting them from Israeli settlers was necessary following the
withdrawal of international monitors.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month he would not renew the
mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), accusing it
mission left on January 31.
was established after a massacre of Palestinians in 1994 and Palestinian
officials warned the withdrawal of the international monitors could increase
abuses by settlers in the city.
from the Youth Against Settlements organization accompanied children to schools
in vests with the word “observer” written in English, Arabic and Hebrew an AFP
we started a local campaign to document violations that children going to
school are subject to in this area where there are always settlers and the
occupation army,” Issa Amro from the organization told AFP.
will not replace the international observers, but we try as much as we can to
make sure that the children go to school.”
scuffles broke out between Israeli settlers, the Palestinians and Israeli
soldiers during the walk, the AFP journalist said.
was created after 29 Palestinian worshippers in a mosque were gunned down by an
American-born Israeli settler.
carried out daily patrols and document rights abuses they witness, although
they were not allowed to intervene.
mission reported its findings to its member countries - Italy, Norway, Sweden,
Switzerland and Turkey - as well as the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
is holy to both Muslims and Jews and has been a flashpoint in the
least 600 Jewish settlers live under heavy military guard in the city, which is
home to around 200,000 Palestinians.
settlements are seen as illegal under international law and a major obstacle to
peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future
vows to freeze money transfers to Palestinian Authority ‘next week’
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to implement a controversial
plan to deduct certain amounts from the tax the Tel Aviv regime collects on
behalf of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
said during a press briefing in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds on Sunday that his
so-called security cabinet would approve next week a deduction in tax revenues
relative to the amounts the PA pays to the Palestinians languishing in Israeli
jails or the families of those killed by the regime’s military.
to the remarks, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said that
the PA would take none of the money if Israel withheld even “a penny.”
Palestinian Ma’an news agency, citing Israel Hayom newspaper, had earlier
reported that the Israeli ministry of military affairs was in the “advanced
stages” of determining how much funding would be withheld.
Tel Aviv regime collects around 127 million dollars a month in duties levied on
goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli “customs”
and then transfers it to the PA.
early July last year, Israel’s parliament passed a bill to withhold hundreds of
millions of dollars in funds from the Palestinians over welfare payments given
to prisoners and their families.
the time, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb
Erekat condemned the decision, which he described as “piracy.”
stipends benefit roughly 35,000 families of the Palestinians killed and wounded
by Israel. The PA says the payments are a form of welfare stipend to the
families who have lost their main breadwinner. The Israeli regime calls that
“terrorist salaries.” In a speech in June 2017, Abbas argued that “payments to
support the families are a social responsibility to look after innocent people
affected by the incarceration or killing of their loved ones.”
Islamic resistance movement Hamas has praised recent calls by a political party
active in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) for democratic
Palestinian general elections.
political bureau member Hussam Badran said in a statement on Saturday that his
movement “fully supports holding general elections supervised by a national
unity government that is formed consensually.”
added that Hamas will “cooperate with all Palestinian factions and parties in
order to get over the internal political crisis and the disappointing
performance by the incumbent government regarding the Palestinian
is ready to participate in a comprehensive national dialogue that would be held
unconditionally. It also stresses that it rejects monopoly of power and
unilateralism by some Palestinian factions under whatever pretext,” Badran
Palestinian Democratic Union lately called for a comprehensive national
dialogue among all Palestinian parties to open the way for presidential and
legislative national councils in accordance with the full proportional
representation of the factions, and under the supervision of a compatible
national unity government.
February 5, Hamas and Islamic Jihad demanded the quick formation of a new national
unity government, stressing the need for further cooperation between the two
groups in the face of challenges facing the Palestinian nation.
two movements, in a joint statement released following a lengthy meeting
between their representatives in the Egyptian capital city of Cairo, emphasized
that a national unity government must be established in a bid to hold new
parliamentary elections in Palestinian territories, and secure Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas announced on January 30 that the Palestinian
legislative polls will be held in East Jerusalem al-Quds, the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip to enable the Palestinian citizens to elect their representatives
Palestinian leadership is keen to achieve the national Palestinian unity by
implementing what had been agreed upon in Cairo in 2017,” Abbas said, adding
that “the Palestinian leadership is committed to its implementation.”
December, Abbas announced that the Palestinian Constitutional Court had decided
to dissolve the Palestinian parliament, better known as the Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC).
court had also called for holding new parliamentary election in the Palestinian
territories after six months of dissolving the parliament.
last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah officially submitted
his resignation and that of his unity government to Abbas, casting doubt on the
prospects of reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
had been facing pressure from his ruling Fatah movement over the past few weeks
to remove Hamdallah from power, and establish a new government comprised of
representatives from PLO factions in addition to independent figures.
headed the Palestinian National Consensus Government, which was formed after
Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement in 2014.
Israeli regime has been conducting a joint war game with the United States,
simulating a scenario in which Israel needs aerial defense by the US.
so-called Juniper Falcon drill began on Thursday and will continue until
February 15, according to Israeli media.
war game involves 300 American and 400 Israeli forces from various units.
media reports said the exercise is part of an agreement between Washington and
Tel Aviv to hold training drills on a regular basis.
Israeli air force said that the maneuver included “operational orders which may
be utilized in the future.”
March, a similar exercise was held with the participation of more than 2,500
forces from the US European Command and 2,000 Israeli soldiers.
simulates war on Lebanon
on Thursday, Israel completed a week-long military drill in the mountainous
areas of the Jordan Valley in the occupied West Bank, simulating war on
Army spokesman Avichay Adraee said the regime’s forces drilled occupying and
burning areas while evacuating casualties under fire.
waged two all-out wars against Lebanon — in 2000 and 2006 — but fell short of
its military objectives in both cases in the face of strong resistance by the
Hezbollah resistance movement and the Lebanese Army.
since the latest military confrontation, the Tel Aviv regime has been
apparently practicing for a future war. Hezbollah says, however, that Israel is
in no position militarily to wage and endure another war.
Inspired in part by Iran’s Islamic Revolution, a young Egyptian army lieutenant
emptied his machine gun into President Anwar Sadat in 1981, killing a leader
who made peace with Israel and offered the shah a refuge after his overthrow.
assassination carried out by Khalid Al-Islambouli and others from a Sunni
Islamic extremist group showed the power of Iran’s Shiite-led revolution across
the religious divides of the Muslim world.
initially saw Iran’s revolution as the start of an effort to push out the
strongman Arab nationalism that had taken hold across the Middle East.
those divisions now feel inflamed by the sectarian bloodshed that followed the
US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Syria’s long civil war and the regional rivalry
between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
may seem as though the Middle East has always been divided between Sunni Islam,
which represents about 85 percent of the world’s more than 1.8 billion Muslims,
and Shiite Islam. But that divide, stemming from a disagreement centuries ago
over who should succeed the Prophet Muhammad, owes much to the political
rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran after 1979.
before the Islamic Revolution, Islamists had wanted to wed governments to their
faith. One of the most prominent was the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group
founded in 1928 in Egypt that spread across the Arab world. Another was the
Iranian Shiite Islamist group “Devotees of Islam,” who assassinated pro-Western
Prime Minister Ali Razmara in 1951.
aftermath of World War II instead saw the rise of pan-Arab nationalists, chief
among them Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Military strongmen took power, pushing
for rapid modernization that shunted religion aside.
nationalists “see themselves often as critical of religion because religion is
‘backward.’ It’s what’s been holding the Arab world back,” said Daniel Byman, a
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a professor at Georgetown
University. “That’s kind of the dominant divide, and Islamists of all stripes
are pushing back against this.”
Ruhollah Khomeini, who returned to Iran from exile after the departure of Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, made a point to keep Shiite ideas out of speeches.
Iranian revolution in the beginning was portraying itself as the start of a
pan-Islamic revolution,” said Toby Matthiesen, a senior researcher at St.
Anthony’s College at the University of Oxford who is writing a book on
Sunni-Shiite relations. “It was even seen like that by a lot of the Sunni
also made a point to embrace the Palestinians in their fight against Israel.
Yasser Arafat, the leader of the overwhelmingly Sunni Palestinians, returned
the favor by becoming the first leader to visit Khomeini.
Iranian revolution gave us a strong belief that the tyrants can be brought
down,” said Ahmed Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic
political party and armed wing that has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007
with Iran’s backing. “Following that big victory, the Islamic Jihad was
established here in Palestine and few years later Hamas was founded too.”
pan-Islamic Iranian inspiration perhaps reached its height on Oct. 6, 1981, as
Islambouli and his co-conspirators rushed out of a truck at a Cairo military
parade and assassinated Sadat, who had made history by signing the first Arab
peace deal with Israel. At trial, Islambouli famously clutched a Qur’an and
shouted: “It was I who killed the Pharaoh!” Iran venerated Islambouli, naming a
street in Tehran after him and issuing a postage stamp in his honor.
by this time, Saudi Arabia, fearful of Iran’s growing influence and the 1979
extremist attack on the Grand Mosque at Makkah, began pumping money into
spreading its ultraconservative view of Sunni Islam throughout the world and
dismissing Shiites as apostates.
Saudis really put a lot of money into the ‘Dawah’ machine to try to out-compete
Iran around the world,” Byman said, referring to the kingdom’s proselytizing
efforts. “There’s a real panic and concern then.”
admiration for Iran waned as it supported destabilizing attacks across the
region, such as a failed 1981 militant coup in Bahrain and a 1985 car bombing
targeting the emir of Kuwait. Iran’s eight-year war with Iraq deepened that
at the same time found perhaps its greatest success in helping create the
Shiite militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, which still holds sway over much of
the country decades later as both an armed group and a political party. In
October 1983, a bombing at the US Marine barracks in Beirut killed 231 American
troops — the bloodiest day for the armed forces since World War II — and a US
federal judge blamed Hezbollah and Iran for the attack. Iran has long denied
exploded in the region with the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Iran backed Shiite
militants implicated in deadly roadside bomb attacks against US forces and sectarian
assaults on Sunnis. Sunni extremists repeatedly targeted Shiite civilians, and
when the Daesh group rampaged across Syria and Iraq in 2014 it massacred
Shiites and other minorities. Iran intervened again, reactivating the militias
to help Iraqi forces eventually defeat the extremist group.
civil war further fueled the split, as Iran and Hezbollah provided crucial
military aid to President Bashar Assad, who comes from the Alawite religious
minority, while Sunni Gulf countries and Turkey supported the mainly Sunni
yet even today, the role of the Iranian revolution in stoking Sunni militancy
cannot be ignored.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that Iran was determined to
expand its military power and ballistic missile program despite mounting
pressure from hostile countries to curb Iran’s defensive work, state TV
have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of
... missiles and will continue our path and our military power,” Rouhani said
in a speech at Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) square, where tens of thousands gathered
to mark the 40th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic revolution.
Yemen’s government has said it remains committed to paying back loans to the
Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) that were due in 2016, and once paid back millions of
dollars more will be made available state news agency SPA reported.
borrowed the money to fund the fight against the Houthi militia, but have been
unable to repay the funds by the agreed date.
Rahman Al-Humaidi, chairman of the Arab Monetary Fund, said Yemen would now pay
the loans according to a new schedule.
Humaidi said it was uncommon for Yemen not to repay its debt on time.
said the AMF was ready to help Yemen modernize its central bank by preparing a
comprehensive study of the current financial situation and the banking sector
The Israeli Army said on Sunday it had started preparations to demolish the
West Bank home of a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli woman.
troops operated in Hebron, where the suspect in the murder of Ori Ansbacher is
from,” the army said in an English-language statement.
the operation, the troops surveyed the suspect’s house in order to examine the
possibility of its demolition.”
suspect was arrested over the weekend and has not yet been charged.
body of Ansbacher, 19, was found late on Thursday in southeast Jerusalem, and
she was buried the next day in her Israeli settlement of Tekoa.
security forces arrested the suspect in a raid in the occupied West Bank city of
Shin Bet security service named him as 29-year-old Arafat Irfaiya from Hebron.
the police and Shin Bet have said investigations have so far not found
conclusively whether the killing was a “terrorist attack” or from other
runup to Israel’s general election in April, however, politicians and Israeli
media appeared to have no such doubts on Sunday.
have no doubts about the nationalist motives of the murderer,” Public Security
Minister Gilad Erdan told public radio.
so many years of suffering from terror we should know — this is a nationalist
on calls to execute Palestinian militant killers, Erdan said he was in favor of
applying the death penalty in certain circumstances.
it becomes clear that there is no possibility of rehabilitating the murderer
and that he abused his victim, in such cases capital punishment should be
applied,” he said.
time has come to employ the death penalty for terrorists, as the law allows us
to do,” the daily Maariv quoted MP Bezalel Smotrich of the far right Jewish
Home party as saying.
a court gag order, Israeli social media were abuzz over the weekend with what
Yediot Aharonot newspaper called “graphic descriptions about the alleged nature
of the murder.”
called on the public not to share “publications and reports, especially on
social media, about the circumstances of the murder case, including
irresponsible horrific descriptions.”
Nudged by rightwing political rivals after a deadly Palestinian attack on a
young Israeli woman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who seeks re-election
pledged Sunday to freeze money transfers to the Palestinian Authority.
collects around $127 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined
for Palestinian markets that transit through Israeli ports and then transfers
it to the PA.
Israeli parliament last year passed legislation to partially withhold funds, in
response to PA payments to families of Palestinians jailed by Israel for
attacks against Israelis.
the end of the week, the staff-work necessary for implementing the law on
deducting terrorists’ salaries will be completed,” Netanyahu — who faces a
general election in April — told journalists at the start of the weekly cabinet
Sunday I will convene the security cabinet and we will approve the necessary
decision to deduct the funds. Let nobody doubt, the funds will be deducted, at
the start of next week,” he said in Hebrew.
Sunday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett was among rightwingers pressing
Netanyahu to implement the law after a Palestinian was arrested at the weekend
on suspicion of killing 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher.
law to offset terrorist funds passed...last July,” he Tweeted. “I call on the
prime minister — apply the law immediately.”
civil affairs minister Hussein Al-Sheikh said that the PA would not go along
with Israel withholding any part of the tax money due.
Palestinian Authority will refuse to receive any cleared funds if Israel
deducts a penny from it,” he told AFP, speaking in Arabic.
did not say what the PA’s next step would be.
Israeli army said Sunday it had started preparations to demolish the West Bank
home of the Palestinian suspected of Ansbacher’s killing, named by security
officials as 29-year-old Arafat Irfaiya from the flashpoint city of Hebron on
the occupied West Bank.
body was found late Thursday in southeast Jerusalem, and she was buried the
next day in her Israeli settlement of Tekoa.
security forces arrested the suspect in a raid in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
He has not yet been charged.
the police and the Shin Bet security agency have said investigations have so
far not concluded whether it was a “terrorist attack” or driven by another
the runup to elections, however, politicians and Israeli media appeared to have
already made up their minds.
time has come to employ the death penalty for terrorists, as the law allows us
to do,” the daily Maariv quoted MP Bezalel Smotrich of the far-right Jewish
Home party as saying.
called on the public not to share “publications and reports, especially on
social media, about the circumstances of the murder case — including
irresponsible horrific descriptions.”
hereby clarify that those are completely baseless publications,” it said.
of July’s law on Palestinian funds wrote at the time that the PA paid around
$330 million a year to prisoners and their families, or seven percent of its
has withheld payments in the past, notably in response to the Palestinians’
2011 admission to the UN cultural agency UNESCO as a full member.
Pentagon chief lands in Afghanistan, supports Kabul role in peace talks
Acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan arrived in Afghanistan on Monday
and said it was important the Afghan government is involved in talks, from
which it has so far been excluded, to end the 17-year-old war.
who will meet US troops and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on his first trip in
his new role, said he had so far not received any direction to reduce the
nearly 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan.
also said the United States has important security interests in the region.
government has been shut out of the evolving peace talks between Taliban negotiators
and US envoys, with the hardline Islamist movement branding his government a US
puppet. Kabul is also concerned that a sharp drawdown of US forces could lead
to chaos in the region.
is important that the Afghan government is involved in discussions regarding
Afghanistan," Shanahan told a small group of reporters travelling with him
on the unannounced trip.
Afghans have to decide what Afghanistan looks like in the future. It's not
about the US, it is about Afghanistan," he said.
took over from Jim Mattis, who quit in December over policy differences with US
President Donald Trump.
said he could not make any guarantees because US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad
was leading the talks.
US military has strong security interests in the region. (The) presence will
evolve out of those discussions," Shanahan said.
also said his goal on the trip was to get an understanding of the situation on
the ground from commanders and then to brief Trump on his findings.
officials have held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in Qatar since
last year in what is widely seen as the most serious bid yet for peace in Afghanistan since the
Taliban were ousted by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
sides hailed progress after the latest round last month, although significant
obstacles remain. Those include the involvement of the Afghan government, which
the Taliban refuse to acknowledge.
next round of talks is due in Qatar on February 25.
Kugelman, a South Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Shanahan's
main priority in Kabul should be to address Afghan government concerns.
top priority of Shanahan has to be to impress upon the government that we're
going to do everything we can to get you into this conversation," Kugelman
will also have to grapple with how much allies will trust him.
a former four-star general once in charge of US Central Command, was respected
for his deep knowledge of military and global affairs. Shanahan, a former
Boeing executive and Mattis's deputy, is seen as a relative outsider in foreign
and neighbouring countries are also concerned about the effect a sudden
withdrawal of US forces could have on the region.
Afghan official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Reuters that even
the suggestion of US troops potentially leaving was dangerous.
course it has given leverage to the Taliban, there is no question about
that," the official said.
has offered no specifics about when he would bring home the 14,000 US troops in
Afghanistan but has said progress in negotiations with the Taliban would enable
a troop reduction and a "focus on counter-terrorism".
said a withdrawal of about half the US troops in Afghanistan was not something
that was being discussed at this point and he had not been directed to reduce
presence we want in Afghanistan is what assures our homeland defence and
supports regional stability and then any type of sizing is done in a
coordinated and disciplined manner," he said.
said after six days of talks with the Taliban in Doha last month, the United
States and the Taliban had sketched the outlines for an eventual peace accord.
He has said since then there had been progress on the future of US troops in Afghanistan.
the Taliban have put out contradictory information on what timeline the US had
agreed to in any potential withdrawal.
recently, a Taliban official said no timetable had been agreed with the US government
for the partial withdrawal of US forces.
officials have told Reuters that, while no formal orders have been sent, the
military is preparing for what a withdrawal of about half of the 14,000 US
troops in Afghanistan would look like.
criticizing vote, US charts careful course on Bangladesh
Bangladesh faced widespread international criticism over the conduct of recent
elections, but the United States looks set for business as usual as it sees
strong common interests with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
the eighth most populous nation in the world, with a moderate Muslim population
that largely welcomes cooperation with the West, Bangladesh has a warming
relationship with the United States - yet not one so close as to give
Washington significant leverage.
Hasina's Awami League won an incredible 288 seats in the 300-seat parliament in
the December 30 election, with opposition leader Khaleda Zia - her bitter
nemesis for decades - in jail on charges her opponents say are politically
motivated while the press faces draconian new restrictions.
US State Department voiced concern ahead of the election, accusing Bangladesh
of foot-dragging on letting in electoral observers and urging greater efforts
to ensure a free vote.
United States followed up after the election with a letter by President Donald
Trump that wished Sheikh Hasina success but asked her to "renew her
commitment to protecting human rights, individual freedom of expression and
democratic institutions," a US official said.
Hasina is a sworn enemy of Islamists, mounting a crackdown on the
Jamaat-e-Islami party that included hanging five of its leaders over charges
related to Bangladesh's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
has also earned widespread praise in Washington for taking in more than 700,000
Rohingya refugees who fled from neighboring Myanmar in a brutal campaign the
United States has called ethnic cleansing - stopping the crisis from become
more regional in dimension.
Kugelman, senior associate for South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International
Center for Scholars, said that Bangladesh was effectively becoming a one-party
authoritarian state - but one whose orientation largely suits Washington.
think the bottom line is that the US sees Sheikh Hasina as a useful partner.
She's very tough on terror and she's presided over a remarkable degree of
economic growth," he said.
think, in that regard, the US sees her as a supporter and practitioner of
stability in Bangladesh in spite of the tradeoff of having a very troubled
domestic political situation in Bangladesh."
government has shown no sign it takes seriously the concerns about the
election, also voiced by the European Union.
Wazed, Sheikh Hasina's US-based son who serves as her adviser on information
and communications technology, said the pre-election US statement was
"disappointing" and blamed it on what he called opposition supporters
among local staff at the US embassy in Dhaka.
he saluted the relationship with the United States and voiced hope for further
ties, saying a top priority was to draw greater US investment in an economy
that has been growing by more than six percent annually.
have a huge consumer market. You have almost 80 million people in the middle
class," he said.
said that Bangladesh has been "phenomenally successful in combatting
terrorism," calling it "one of the few Muslim countries that is
considered relatively terrorism-free."
added that the government felt a genuine empathy for fleeing Rohingyas in light
of Bangladesh's plight at independence and noted that the refugees have not
seen the type of backlash experienced by migrants to Europe.
SCOPE TO CRITICISE
United States see a friendly rapport with Bangladesh as vital to Washington's
goal of an open, US-friendly Indo-Pacific region. Unlike neighbors such as Sri
Lanka, Bangladesh has not drawn high-profile infrastructure deals with China.
country is even more critical to the US relationship with Bangladesh - regional
power and emerging US ally India, which has staunchly supported Sheikh Hasina,
limiting the scope for Washington to take another approach even if it so chose.
opposition, however, is hopeful that US criticism can make headway.
Kobir, the international affairs secretary of Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist
Party who met policymakers in Washington ahead of the vote, said the United
States should make clear that relations will be limited "unless you show
us you are democratizing."
said that Sheikh Hasina had turned Bangladesh into a country like Cambodia or
Venezuela, where the United States to varying degrees had criticized strongmen.
praised a US House of Representatives resolution that had urged free elections
and noted the opposition's concerns.
Taliban militants have suffered heavy casualties during the operations of the
Afghan armed forces in northeastern Takhar and northern Kunduz provinces.
209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said at
least 10 Taliban militants were killed and 15 others were wounded during the
operations of the Afghan Police and Afghan Intelligence led by the Afghan Army
in Khwajah Ghar, Dasht-e-Qala, Yangi Qala, and Khwajah Bahauddin districts of
statement further added that the operations are being conducted in the
framework of Toofan-24 operations.
Afghan forces also received artillery and close air support during the
operations, the 209th Shaheen Corps said adding that the operations will
continue until the mentioned areas are fully cleared of militants.
to 209th Shaheen Corps, the security personnel have not suffered casualties
during the operations.
the meantime, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the Afghan Air Force carried out
airstrikes using MD-530 helicopters against the militant in Hazrat Sultan area
located in the provincial capital of Kunduz which left two militants dead and
three others wounded.
local officials in western Farah province confirm that a Taliban attack has
claimed the lives of seven policemen in this province.
of the provincial council said a group of Taliban insurgents launched an attack
on a security outpost in Bala Bolok district late on Saturday night.
officials further added that the attack claimed lives of 7 policemen and
Taliban militants took away the weapons and other equipment of the police
the meantime, the provincial police commandment officials confirm the attack
but added that three policemen have lost their lives during the clash.
is among the relatively volatile provinces in West of Afghanistan with some of
its remote districts remaining home to Taliban militants who often attempt to
carry out attacks against the government and security institutions.
President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday offered the Taliban the possibility of opening
an office in Afghanistan but the proposal was swiftly spurned by the group that
is determined to keep his government out of accelerating peace talks.
has expressed alarm at the Taliban shutting his administration out of
negotiations with the United States as well as recent Moscow talks with Afghan
opposition politicians, and repeated earlier offers to give the group a secure
official address to aid any future diplomacy between the two sides.
the Taliban want an office, I will give it to them in Kabul, Nangarhar or
Kandahar by tomorrow,” Ghani said while visiting the province of Nangarhar, a
hotbed of insurgent violence on the border with Pakistan.
will bring a lasting and honourable peace to the country,” he said.
is a stronghold of the Taliban, the hardline Islamist movement that now
controls or contests districts across nearly half the country, more than 17 years
since they were toppled from power.
officials in Moscow last week stressed the importance of a formal office among
a string of demands that included the removal of Western sanctions and travel
bans on Taliban members, prisoner releases and an end to “propaganda” against
spokesman Sohail Shahin later told Reuters that the focus was international
recognition of their existing site in Doha, Qatar.
Sunday he said Ghani was trying to harm the peace efforts with his latest offer.
demand about having an official political office is clear, we want that our
office in Doha is recognised by the international community and the United
Nations,” Shahin said.
this, Ghani is trying to change the topic and harm the on-going peace efforts.”
negotiators are due to meet US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for another round
of talks in Qatar on Feb. 25.
talks are expected to centre around a ceasefire to end America’s longest war
and the withdrawal of foreign troops.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh on Sunday said prolonged Rohingya crisis would
encourage formation of pockets of radicalism, which could destabilise the South
at a seminar on "Bangladesh and Human Rights" in Dhaka, A.K. Abdul
Momen said Rohingya refugees needed to be sent home at the earliest, with
safety and security, Efe news agency reported.
fear is, if this (Rohingya) problem lingers for a longer time, it may encourage
pockets of radicalism and create problems of uncertainty and instability not
only for Myanmar and Bangladesh but for the entire region," Momen said.
must go back to their homes, earliest the better. The global leadership must
come forward to resolve the crisis at its root, not in Bangladesh," he
a former Bangladesh permanent representative in the United Nations, became the
Foreign Minister after a new government took charge in January.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina not sheltered the Rohingyas, it would
have ended up in the gravest and worst genocide since World War II," said
Prime Minister, by allowing (in) the persecuted people of the Rakhine province
of Myanmar, has saved the face of global leaders from ignominy and
disgrace," he said.
are ethnic Muslim minority concentrated in Rakhine State, and whom the Myanmar
government refuses to recognise as citizens and allow basic rights.
than 738,000 Rohingya refugees have arrived in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, since
the beginning of the crisis on August 25, 2017, following a wave of persecution
and violence in Myanmar that the UN described as an attempt at "ethnic
majority of Rohingyas -- more than 620,000 people -- live in just one area:
Kutupalong, the largest refugee settlement anywhere in the world.
need to be repatriated with safety and security at the earliest. Their exodus
was created by Myanmar and it is their responsibility to solve it," said
first phase of Rohingyas' voluntary repatriation to Myanmar was due to begin in
November last year, as per an agreement between Bangladesh and Myanmar on
November 23, 2017.
acting Secretary of Defense of the United States Patrick Shanahan has said that
no direction has been received to reduce the number of U.S. troops in
made the remarks to a group of journalists who were travelling with him to
Afghanistan, according to Reuters.
arrived in Afghanistan early on Monday in an unannounced visit and is scheduled
to meet with the U.S. forces and Afghan officials.
ongoing efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict through negotiations, Shanahan
said it was important the Afghan government is involved in talks.
also pointed towards the important security interests of the United States in
the region and added that he has so far not received any direction to reduce
the nearly 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
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