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Islamic World News (23 Sep 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Malaysian Islamic Studies Revision Book Justifies Death Sentence on Apostates



















Modern Madrasas in India are getting a thumbs-up from community leader

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Malaysian Islamic Studies Revision Book Justifies Death Sentence on Apostates

Modern Madrasa-Cum-Schools In UP Combine Quran with Computers

We Are Ready For War, but Choose To Walk Path of Peace: Pakistan Army

ISIS Chief Baghdadi Masters Art of Disguise, But One Mistake May End His Luck

29 Martyred, 70 Wounded in Terrorist Attack in South-western Iran

Ireland May 'Recognize' Palestine If Talks Keep Failing

 

Southeast Asia

Malaysian Islamic Studies Revision Book Justifies Death Sentence on Apostates

Wrong To Say Islam against Banning Child Marriage, Says Preacher

Xinjiang Enjoys Social Stability, Ethnic Harmony: Chinese Embassy Official

Not fit to be PM if Malay, Islamic agendas ignored - Anwar

Ma’ruf Amin resigns as NU supreme leader

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India

Modern Madrasa-Cum-Schools In UP Combine Quran with Computers

Muslims Aren’t Responding to Provocation, PM Modi’s Muslim Friend Says ‘Communal Monster’ Will Come Back to Haunt BJP

Agitating Sanitation Workers of MCD Threaten To Convert To Islam

Encounter between Security Forces, Terrorists Underway in J&K's Pulwama

ISI instructed J&K terrorists to kill SPOs, intercepted chats reveal

It is time to give a befitting reply to Pakistan, terrorists: Army chief

UP Muharram procession: Man injured after contact with live wire in Gorakhpur, mob goes on rampage

Imran Khan calls India’s statement cancelling talks ‘arrogant’, his minister makes another offer

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Pakistan

We Are Ready For War, but Choose To Walk Path of Peace: Pakistan Army

In One Tweet, Imran Closes All Diplomatic Doors, For Now

PML-N, PPP hold govt responsible for diplomatic debacle with India

Terrorist bid foiled in Bajaur; two killed

7 soldiers martyred in crossfire with militants in North Waziristan, says ISPR

FM Qureshi to stay in Washington for a day before UN General Assembly session

Nine terrorists killed, seven troops martyred in NWA

Children of Pakistanis ‘imprisoned’ in Iran seek federal govt’s help

Traders protest denial of passport free entry into Afghanistan at Torkham

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Arab World

ISIS Chief Baghdadi Masters Art of Disguise, But One Mistake May End His Luck

Big-Screen Business In Saudi Arabia Will Be Billion-Dollar Industry By 2030

US-led aircraft evacuate Daesh commanders from eastern Syria: Report

Tahrir Al-Sham Sends Chemical Cargos to ISIL Terrorists in Northern Syria

Tensions Intensify between US-Backed Militia, Civilians in North-eastern Syria

More Turkish Soldiers, Allied Militants Killed in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Syria

Child drowns after boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon

UAE completes withdrawal of troops from Yemen’s Mahrah province: Report

Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

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Mideast

29 Martyred, 70 Wounded in Terrorist Attack in South-western Iran

Islamic State Claims Killing Of 29 at Iran Military Parade

President Rouhani Warns of Crushing Response to Terrorist Attack in Ahwaz

Iran summons European diplomats after deadly military parade attack

ISIS falsely claims responsibility for Ahwaz attack, Iranian opposition says

Fatah accuses Hamas of colluding with Israeli government

Arab Coalition to open humanitarian corridors for civilians in Yemen’s Hodeidah

Yemeni army clears 500 mines planted by Houthi militias in Saada

Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

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Europe

Ireland May 'Recognize' Palestine If Talks Keep Failing

One Year On, Far Right Has Transformed German Politics

Putin slams act of terror during Iranian military parade, says ready to boost fight against terrorism

Russia rejects Israeli findings on downed plane

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South Asia

Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia Marching Ahead With Shared Visions & Partnership

5 Shibir Members Detained With Petrol Bombs In Sirajganj

Afghanistan condemns deadly attack on military parade in Iran

26 ISIS militants arrested in Kabul city for planning attacks during Ashura Day

 No Chinese debt-trap, India is oldest ally but Maldives open for businesses, says President Yameen on the eve of polls

Tribesmen offer condolences to families of 70 victims of Afghanistan suicide blast

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North America

Why Western Media Silent on Ahvaz Terrorist Attack

Stafford's Dispute with Muslim Organization Heats Up Amid DOJ Investigation

Pompeo threatens Iran with action if US interests attacked

US supports terrorists, yet Iran gets the blame

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Africa

Nigerian Military Accuses Journalists Of Working For Boko Haram

US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

Libya urges ‘effective’ UN action to end Tripoli violence

Cholera outbreak in Nigeria claims nearly 100 lives

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/malaysian-islamic-studies-revision-book-justifies-death-sentence-on-apostates/d/116461

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Malaysian Islamic Studies Revision Book Justifies Death Sentence On Apostates

22 September 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 — An Islamic Studies revision book for secondary school students reportedly rationalises executing apostates who leave Islam, according to Siti Kasim.

The activist highlighted a passage from “Focus SPM Pendidikan Islam Tingkatan 4 5” published by local publisher Pelangi that allegedly cited reasons for the death sentence on Muslims who leave the faith, like warning people that Islam cannot be toyed with, preventing apostates from influencing other Muslims, and preventing acts of degrading Islam.

“Since the news about wife beating came out, a Form 5 Student inbox me and showed me this.... Now, you tell me whether this is right or wrong?

“Please Dr Maszlee Malik @maszlee, you really need to look into the Agama Islam syllabus. This is horrendous!” Siti posted on Facebook today.

The Islamic Studies revision book for Form Four and Form Five students is touted as a Pelangi bestseller on its cover.

Siti earlier highlighted a question in a September/ October 2018 model examination paper for the Form Five Islamic Studies subject, issued by the Selangor Education Department, on how to beat a “disobedient” wife.

Students were asked to write a third answer besides the provided answers of “Not too much until it causes injury” and “Not on sensitive parts”.

“Is this what our Malay children learning in school?? What is this Dr Maszlee Malik @maszlee? Is this acceptable? What kind of trash are we teaching the kids in school?” Siti posted on Facebook yesterday.

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1675406/islamic-studies-revision-book-justifies-death-sentence-on-apostates

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Modern Madrasa-Cum-Schools In UP Combine Quran with Computers

Sep 23, 2018

Dressed in his uniform — a blue-and-white striped shirt and blue trousers — Zunaid Khan watches raptly as the laptop screen plays a movie about how pollution is affecting the environment. The 10-year-old is a Class V student of Gulshane Rizwan Madrasa, where little children are regularly shown educational movies and videos of nursery rhymes so they pick up the right English pronunciation. Located in UP’s Faridpur town in Bareilly district, the Madrasa is commonly called ‘Oxford School’.

It is one of the many Madrasas-cum-schools that have come up in UP in recent years. Unlike the traditional Madrasa where kurta-pyjama-clad students sit on the carpet and learn the Quran, Urdu and Persian as their main subjects, the focus here is on English, science, math, social studies, computer science and extra-circular activities. Oxford School’s owner Rahil Khan says it’s mostly children from poor homes who come to Madrasas for free education. “We do not want our students to be deprived of modern education, so we plan the schedule in such a way that they have enough time for both forms of education,” Khan says.

“Students are taught from NCERT books and texts of private publishers approved by CBSE schools.” The unaided school, which came up a year ago, has 150 students enrolled in primary classes. Tasleem Khan, a labourer whose children Khairoon Nisa (9) and Mohd Saddam Khan (7) go to Oxford School, says all members of his family have been labourers. “I want my children to get a proper education and decent jobs. A cleric persuaded me to send them to this school. Now our children even teach us,” says Khan, a resident of Savai Kalan village in Faridpur sub-division.

Although affiliated to the UP Board of Madrasa Education, these modern Madrasas follow the CBSE curriculum. Jagmohan Singh, Bareilly district minority welfare officer, says the UP government has made NCERT books compulsory in Madrasas from the current session. Less than half of UP’s Madrasas are covered by the Centre’s modernisation scheme — Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM) — started eight years ago. Each institution is provided with books for modern subjects and three teachers who are paid an honorarium.

Many Madrasas however, are bringing changes using their own resources. M Children Academy, an unaided Madrasa in Bareilly’s Nakatia locality boasts qualified teachers with BEd degrees, a library, a computer lab and CCTV cameras in each classroom. Mohd Miraz, a Class X student, says, “I am confident that I will realise my dream of becoming a doctor because I am getting a proper education.”

Of the 220 students at the academy, nearly 10% are non-Muslims. Its principal Abdul Qadir says, “Since we charge a fee of only Rs 200 per month, we also attract non-Muslim students as it is economical for parents who want to give their children quality English-medium education.”

Javed Khan, an alumnus of the academy, got admission into Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia University in 2016, and is currently doing a three-year diploma in computer engineering. “Having had the same education as other students, I didn’t have problems adjusting to college life,” says Khan, who hopes to bag a job in a reputed company once his course is over.

Madrasa Gulshane Khursheed, which has 17 teachers and 650 students, lays stress on physical education, with weight-lifting machines in place to help students get fitter. Principal Farzand Ali says they have exercise and sports classes for both girls and boys and are planning to start yoga classes as well.

What sets apart Maulana Mohd Ali Jauhar Public School in Sambhal is the fact that students here are taught Quran and Hadith in English. Its manager Feroz Khan says, “We want our students to have knowledge of all languages and subjects. We are modernising our teaching methods so our children are able to excel in any field once they leave the Madrasa.”

At Sun Flower Modern Urdu Arabic College in Chandauli, students have the option to choose either Urdu or Sanskrit while Sunni/Shia theology is compulsory in Classes IX and X. Of the 180 students here, 90 are non-Muslims. “As we teach all subjects and conduct examinations regularly, students from all religions come here,” says the manager, Abdul Hasib.

The changing profile of the Madrasa is already making a difference in students’ lives. Zoya Sameen, a Class VII student at the Chandauli Madrasa, recalls that till a few years ago, she had to go to a regular school in the morning and a Madrasa in the evening. “Now I am taught both kinds of courses here, so I have time to play in the evening.”

Modern Madrasas are also getting a thumbs-up from community leaders. Maulana Shahbudin Razvi, national general secretary, Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam, an organisation of Sunni Barelvi sect, says they do not have any issue with modern Madrasas if they are giving proper classes on religious texts along with modern education. “We want children in our community to have proficiency of computer and English. The students should have an option of employment outside the religious sector,” he adds.

Maulana Mohd Salim Khan, a local cleric whose two children are enrolled in Oxford School, notes, “Though we want our children to know about Islamic law, it is also necessary for them to remain in the mainstream and compete with other kids of their age. Modern Madrasas are bridging the gap between religious and modern education.”

‘I’m learning fast and I get to sit on a bench’

For Armaan Beg’s parents, it is a matter of pride that their son goes to a Madrasa where the medium of instruction is English.

The 10-year-old is the eldest among four siblings and studies in Faridpur town’s Oxford School. His father, Yunus Beg, is a labourer and earns Rs 200 per day, while his mother, Sona Begum, works as a zari artisan from home and makes Rs 150 in five days. Both his parents are illiterate.

Armaan says he used to go to a small Madrasa in the mosque of Dalpura village near the town for an hour each in the morning and evening. “I was enrolled in a government primary school where I studied till Class III. However, as my teachers never paid any attention to me, I could not even write my name in English. After my parents learnt about the modern Madrasa, they got me admitted here. As I was weak in studies, I got admission in Class II instead of IV.” The boy says the new school is different from his earlier ones. “The teaching method is interesting for both Quran and other subjects and I am learning fast. Also, I get to sit on benches.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/sunday-times/how-a-Madrasa-became-oxford-school/articleshow/65915577.cms

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We are ready for war, but choose to walk path of peace: Pakistan Army

September 22, 2018

Moments after Times of India reported inflammatory statements by Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday, the Pakistan Army spokesperson responded by saying: "We [Pakistan Army] are ready for war but choose to walk the path of peace in the interest of the people of Pakistan, the neighbours and the region".

These remarks were made by Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor while talking to Dunya TV.

According to TOI, the Indian army chief said India "needs to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that the terrorists and Pakistan Army have been carrying out". "Yes, it's time to give it back to them in the same coin, not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain," the Indian army chief was quoted as saying.

Gen Rawat's comments came shortly after Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter earlier on Saturday to respond to India's cancellation of the meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), calling New Delhi's reaction "arrogant and negative". "All my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture," added PM Khan.

Responding to Gen Rawat's statements, Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has a long-standing record of fighting terrorism, adding "we know the price [that is paid] for peace".

Read: India cancels New York meeting with Pakistan, says PM Khan's 'true face revealed'

"We have struggled to achieve peace in the last two decades. We can never do anything to disgrace any soldier," he asserted, strongly denying the claims made by India that hold the Pakistan Army responsible for the killing of a Border Security Force (BSF) soldier.

“They have in the past as well laid the blame on us for mutilating the body of a fallen soldier. We are a professional army. We never engage in such acts.

"As far as the issuance of postal tickets is concerned, the UN released a human rights violation report following which the then interim government issued those tickets highlighting the plight of Kashmiris.

"To turn this into an excuse that the peace process has been tainted or that Pakistan has somehow changed its stance, is inappropriate," the ISPR chief said.

Related: Islamabad 'deeply disappointed' over New Delhi's cancellation of meeting between FMs

“There is a freedom struggle going on in the Indian occupied Kashmir, and Burhan Wani onwards, it is completely a political movement,” Ghafoor said, adding that the struggle for independence has become a part of the DNA of Kashmiris and this is now the third generation which is willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

“They [India] should come forward for a dialogue. Whenever attempts for dialogue have failed, it is because India has run away from the table.

"The government of Pakistan’s offer still stands for India to come forward and hold talks with us,” the ISPR chief said.

'Indian govt trying to divert public's attention'

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry also promptly issued a response, backing the DG ISPR's statement. "Pakistan and India are nuclear powers; a war is out of question," he said.

The information minister termed the Indian army chief's statement an attempt to divert the attention of Indian public from the mega corruption scandal and the subsequent calls for resignation faced by PM Modi-led BJP government.

Chaudhry said that the Indian army chief's statement was inappropriate and that the general must refrain from using statements as a political tool.

"The Indian army chief needs to understand that he is not a BJP leader," Chaudhry remarked, adding that "the world stands witness to who wants war and who wants peace".

"As a peace-loving nation, Pakistan desires peace [with India]," he stressed, highlighting the fact that peace will be in the benefit of billions across both nations.

He said that Pakistan had reached out in hopes for peace and will continue its efforts to that end.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434329/we-are-ready-for-war-but-choose-to-walk-path-of-peace-pakistan-army

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ISIS chief Baghdadi masters art of disguise, but one mistake may end his luck

22 September 2018

Despite the launch of a major offensive on the last pocket of the ISIS extremist group in eastern Syria, close to the Iraqi border,  the leader of the terrorist group Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi might succeed once again in escaping, observers have warned.

While the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US-led coalition launched on September 10 the final phase of the attack on ISIS, targeting Hajin town and its suburbs, where Baghdadi is believed to exist, many have speculated that he might have already escaped.

Prominent Kurdish figure Rezdst Kubani who was present at a military position in the area said that: “It is the last stronghold for ISIS fighters. All its foreign leaders and warlords from outside Syria are gathered in the towns of al-Soussa, Hajin and al-Shaafa and we will kill them there.”

Baghdadi masters the art of disguise

But Hassan Hassan, a senior research fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University said that monitoring the location of Baghdadi may not be easy.

Hassan told AFP news agency that Baghdadi “learned how to hide well,” adding that he and his organization “had learned lessons from the mistakes which ended the lives of their leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and their military commander Abu Hamza al-Muhajir in 2010,” meaning that “only a small number of trusted people know where is he.”

While Hisham al-Hashemi, the Iraqi expert in the extremist organization, said that: “Baghdadi is hiding in the Syrian desert, an area between Iraq and Syria, and he moves between the Baaj (northwest of Iraq) and Hajin in Syria.”

Waiting for a fatal mistake

A senior Iraqi intelligence official said in early May that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in an area on the Iraqi-Syrian border and was traveling “in hiding, not in a convoy, accompanied by four to five people, including his son and son-in-law.”

Commenting on the incident, researcher Hassan Hassan, pointed out that these areas appear limited on the map, but “on the ground they are large areas of mountains, deserts, rivers and villages in Iraq and Syria, providing many hideouts.”

He added that “With the strong technical support of the US-led coalition, the Iraqis and the Syrians have the resources to monitor him, and he may be arrested for an error committed by himself or his men,” he said.

This error may be similar to the one that almost happened on November, 3, 2016, when the Guardian newspaper reported in January, “when he spoke 45 seconds on the radio with his men during the Iraqi forces’ offensive to restore Mosul, He was spotted immediately.”

“His bodyguards took him away immediately after they realized what he had done,” said a senior Kurdish official who listened to the radio during the incident.

If Baghdadi can escape this time, he may join secret cells of the organization in another part of Iraq or Syria.

News of Baghdadi escape to Afghanistan through Iran

Meanwhile, Asharq al-Awssat newspaper quoted security sources and other extremist groups in Pakistan as saying that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi arrived in the state of Nangarhar in eastern Afghanistan after crossing the Iranian territory.

Baghdadi relocation, according to the sources, who asked not to be identified, came after the arrival of hundreds of ISIS members to the province after crossing the Iranian territory, through the city of Zahedan in eastern Iran, where sources said that the terrorist organization maintains a headquarter of the hospitality of its fighters with the knowledge and coordination with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Baghadadi, one of the world’s most wanted, has survived over the years from several air strikes and at least once been wounded, but experts still warn he is mastering the art of disguise and may also escape this time.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/09/22/Baghdadi-masters-art-of-disguise-but-a-fatal-mistake-may-end-his-fate.html

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29 Martyred, 70 Wounded in Terrorist Attack in South-western Iran

Sep 22, 2018

"29 people were martyred and 70 others were wounded during the terrorist attack on the Armed Forces' parades in Ahwaz," Deputy Governor-General of Khouzestan province Hossein Hosseinzadeh told FNA on Saturday.

Earlier, Governor-General of Ahvaz Gholamreza Shariati had told the state-run news agency IRNA that "the wounded have been transferred to Ahwaz hospitals".

He added that the terrorists attacked the bystanders watching the annual Armed Forces' parades, marking the start of the Sacred Defense Week, commemorating Iranians' sacrifices during the 8 years of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran in 1980s, in disguise of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij (volunteer) forces, killing and wounding several people, including innocent women and children.

Shariati said that none of the officials participating in the military parades in Ahvaz city in Khouzestan province was injured in the attack.

He also said that based on preliminary reports, 4 terrorists carried out the Saturday attack in Ahwaz, adding that two of them were killed and two others were arrested.

But, Spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi told FNA that 4 terrorists carried out the attack during military parades in Ahwaz, noting that three of them were killed and the last one was captured by security forces.

He added that none of the terrorists could escape, noting that other reports about the details of the attack are not confirmed.

Meantime, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Public Relations Department and IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif told ISNA news agency that the terrorists who attacked people during the Armed Forces' parades in Ahwaz were affiliated to al-Ahwaziyeh stream which is nourished by Saudi Arabia.

He added that the terrorists aimed to overshadow the magnificence of the Iranian Armed Forces' parades.

General Sharif said that people were also invited to watch the parades and the terrorists both fired at people and the Armed Forces.

He said that such attacks are precedent and al-Ahwaziyeh terrorist group had earlier fired at the convoys of people who visited the Southern cities of Iran which resisted against Iraq's aggression during the 8-year Iraqi-imposed war against Iran in 1980s. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970631000484

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Ireland may 'recognize' Palestine if talks keep failing

23.09.2018

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON

Ireland may recognize Palestine as a state if talks over a two-state solution with Israel keep failing, the Irish foreign minister said Saturday.

Simon Coveney made the remarks during a joint press conference in Dublin with visiting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who was accompanying President Mahmoud Abbas.

“We have made a choice not to officially recognize the state of Palestine just yet,” the Irish Times quoted Coveney as saying.

“But if this hopelessness continues in terms of the dialogue working we will be forced to review that for obvious reasons, as I think a lot of other countries in Europe will too,” he added.

He said Ireland has already committed to recognizing a Palestinian state as part of a peace process; however, if negotiations between Palestine and Israel continue to prove fruitless, “we may have to forget the second part of that."

Al-Maliki was in Dublin with Abbas, and the duo also met Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar and President Michael D. Higgins during their stopover on their way to New York to attend next week's UN General Assembly.

Abbas is expected to plea to the international community to salvage the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or totally abandon it.

Meeting in Ireland

Coveney announced during the press conference that the Irish government is considering hosting a meeting in Ireland between leaders of Arab and European countries and Palestinian representatives to restart the stalled peace process, the Irish Times reported.

Describing the U.S. President Donald Trump administration's decision to pull $200 million in funding from the UNRWA – UN agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – as “a mistake,” Coveney pledged to increase Irish funding for the agency from €4.5 million ($5.3 million) to €7 million ($8.24 million).

Late last month, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the refugee agency.

The U.S. has long been the UNRWA's largest contributor, providing it with $350 million annually -- roughly a quarter of the agency's overall budget.

Established in 1949, the UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Al-Maliki welcomed the suggested meeting by the Irish government, as he said the international community should "take up its own responsibility to seek action when it comes to Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”

Occupation, 'illegal' expansion

Coveney was asked if he believes Israel is moving towards imposing an apartheid-style regime.

“We have an occupation of the Palestinian territories,” he responded.

“And while that occupation is taking place we are seeing an expansion of Israeli settlements on to Palestinian lands. In our view that is illegal.”

Also speaking about the closing of Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington by the U.S. administration, Coveney said “we need sustained dialogue if we are to make a breakthrough in the Middle East peace process.”

“We believe that shutting down channels of communications is never a good idea,” he added.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/ireland-may-recognize-palestine-if-talks-keep-failing/1262258

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Southeast Asia

 

Wrong to say Islam against banning child marriage, says preacher

22 Sep 2018

Preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin has spoken out against parties rejecting the government's move to increase the minimum age of marriage to 18.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the PKR Youth executive councillor in charge of religion said Muslim scholars have differing opinions on the age of puberty and age of maturit

"There are certain groups of Muslims in Malaysia who are against setting the minimum age to marry at 18. They claim the move to set a minimum age has no basis in Islamic traditions.

"The fact is, their excuse of there being 'no such traditions in Islam' is completely untrue," he said.

"This is because within discussions among Islamic scholars, there are (differing) views on two issues, the age of puberty and age of maturity," he explained.

He pointed out that there are also differing views on the age at which Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisyah was wed to him, which is an oft-cited example to back child marriages.

Wan Ji said that a child's age of maturity had been addressed in the Quran through a verse on how orphans are not allowed to manage their inheritance until they reach the appropriate age.

In this instance, the age of maturity is defined as the age at which one possesses the mental capability to manage any inheritance.

"Therefore, by looking at the need to reach the age of maturity before being allowed to manage wealth, the same consideration should be given for permission to marry.

"Further, there are way more complexities involved in managing a household than managing wealth," he argued.

On the role of Malaysian syariah courts in regulating child marriages, Wan Ji claimed that not all of its decisions are in line with Islamic teachings.

As an example, he pointed to the need for preachers to obtain a license from the state Islamic religious departments.

Wan Ji argued that the license requirement restricted a Muslim's freedom to preach the word of God.

At present, the Malaysian syariah courts have set 18 as the minimum age of marriage for boys, and 16 for girls.

However, those who are below the minimum age can apply for permission to marry from the syariah courts, as well as obtaining consent of their parents.

Objections to raising minimum age

Meanwhile, the New Straits Times today quoted Sabah mufti Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar as saying that people should be allowed to get married early.

He had also claimed that syariah law states the age of marriage was set at 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

"These (marriages) are valid as long as they follow proper procedures and obtain the required permission.

"The reason why they are allowed to get married early is because some of these children can already be considered mature," he said in response to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who had announced the government’s initiative to increase the minimum marriage age to 18.

Others who previously spoke against Putrajaya's plans to ban child marriages include PAS vice-president Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.

The Kelantan deputy menteri besar was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Mujahid Yusof Rawa, who said that Putrajaya was formulating a standard operating procedure (SOP) to tighten syariah court provisions on child marriages, before imposing an outright ban.

Wan Azizah, who is also minister of women, family and community development, previously came under fire for her previous statement that the 15-year-old girl made to marry a 44-year-old divorcee in Kelantan had "consented" to the marriage.

This had been the second such case to be reported out of Kelantan in recent months.

In the first case, an 11-year-old Thai girl living in Gua Musang became the third wife to a 41-year-old man after marrying the latter in June this year.

The case drew similar criticism from rights activists, politicians and members of the public.

Earlier this month, Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah decreed that the marriageable age for Muslim males and females would be raised from 16 to 18 years.

Following that, the Selangor state assembly on Sept 6 unanimously passed the Islamic Family Enactment (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003 (Amendment 2018) which, among others, regulates the minimum age for a Muslim marriage in the state.

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/444235

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Xinjiang enjoys social stability, ethnic harmony: Chinese Embassy official

Sep 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman of Chinese Embassy has said that Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China enjoys social stability, sound economic development and harmonious coexistence among ethnic groups.

Referring to a recent meeting held between Ambassador Yao Jing Dr Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony of Pakistan on Wednesday, September 19, 2018, the spokesman said both the dignitaries had a good discussion on China-Pakistan relations including the CPEC cooperation and some specific projects in Pakistan.

“The Chinese ambassador appreciated the efforts by the Pakistani Government to promote religious harmony, on which both the two sides had full consensus,” said the spokesman.

The spokesman added that the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) issued a news item about the meeting on the same day and it has covered the meeting accurately.

“However, some local and international media gave baseless and distorted reports about the meeting and this embassy totally rejects them,” the spokesman said.

The Chinese official added that the Embassy would like to avail of this opportunity to reiterate that the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China enjoys social stability, sound economic development and harmonious coexistence among ethnic groups.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/09/22/xinjiang-enjoys-social-stability-ethnic-harmony-chinese-embassy-official/

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Not fit to be PM if Malay, Islamic agendas ignored - Anwar

September 22, 2018

IPOH: PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pointed out that he is not fit to become prime minister if he ignores the agenda for the Malays and Islamic religion.

He said the differences from the aspects of race and religious beliefs would not be an obstacle to him at all in implementing justice for the other races in Malaysia.

“I will defend the Malay interest so that they will not be left out, poor and without major business opportunities in the urban areas.

“I will also continue to look after the interests of those people who gave their confidence and support to us including the Indians, Chinese and other races,” he said.

Anwar was speaking at the “Amanat Perdana Malaysia Baharu” (New Malaysia Premier Message) at the Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Auditorium, here today.

He said the PKR would also continue to absorb the Islamic concept in the party, however it would never be made as an immunity and an advantage to step on party members from the other races.

“We will not use Islam to pressure the other people or to use Islamic interpretation merely to punish other people. Our Islamic ideology is for missionary work, to give awareness on interpretation and the true syariah understanding,” he said.

Anwar, who is also the PKR candidate for the Port Dickson by-election said that his stand and that of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the issues of lesbianism, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) were in tandem.

“We are Malaysians who understand religion and we do not agree on marriages between the same sex, only that the media try to pit us (by reporting that) the prime minister did not agree with LGBT, Anwar said we review the law on sodomy,” he said.

Anwar said the law on sodomy was brought by the British to India during the colonial era and then Malaysia took the law and brought it into the country.

“To me the law is not fair and should be reviewed, so it is to pit me against Tun Mahathir . Everyday it is shown that what I say that can cause enmity between Tun Mahathir and me,” he added.

Anwar said he and Tun Dr Mahathir were in agreement to save the country from being robbed by previous leaders.

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/413931/not-fit-be-pm-if-malay-islamic-agendas-ignored-anwar

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Ma’ruf Amin resigns as NU supreme leader

September 22, 2018

Vice-presidential candidate Ma’ruf Amin has resigned from his position as Rais ‘Aam (supreme leader), of the country’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU).

His deputy, Miftahul Achar, has been appointed to replace him.

“Serving as Rais ‘Aam is a noble mandate for all NU members, including myself. However, there is a situation in which I, an NU member, cannot avoid. The nation has called on me to give my best as a vice-presidential nominee,” Ma’ruf said in his resignation letter dated Sept. 22.

“My choice is a new path of struggle for the greater benefit [of the Indonesian people],” he said.

The plenary meeting accepted Ma’ruf’s resignation, as it aligns with the organization’s statutes that stipulate the Rais ‘Aam must resign if he or she is running for office.

The plenary meeting also appointed Ma’ruf as a member of NU’s Mustasyar (advisory board), for the period of 2015 to 2020.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/09/22/maruf-amin-resigns-as-nu-supreme-leader.html

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India

 

Muslims Aren’t Responding to Provocation, PM Modi’s Muslim Friend Says ‘Communal Monster’ Will Come Back to Haunt BJP

SANYA DHINGRA      

23 September, 2018

Businessman Zafar Sareshwala says Muslims aren’t responding to provocation & will focus on education.

New Delhi: A prominent Muslim businessman and educationist known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned that a section of the BJP is fanning communal sentiments and “creating a monster” and this would come back to haunt it.

“If people see that lynching is acceptable, they will not stop at Muslims…they will not see whether someone is a Hindu, old, a man or woman,” said Zafar Sareshwala, former vice-chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad.

“If you, say, don’t want us to slaughter buffalo, we (Muslims) will stop doing it…We won’t die of hunger if we don’t eat ghosht (meat),” he said. “But what will happen to your own beef exports then? Six out of ten in the trade are Hindus. What will happen to them?” he said in a telephone interview to ThePrint from Mumbai.

Asked if the BJP leadership, including the prime minister, emboldens communal elements by making provocative statements during elections, the former vice-chancellor said, “I don’t believe anything politicians say in election rallies…If they say they love Muslims in an election rally, will we buy it? Then why do we so readily buy the provocative statements?” he asked.

There are elements in the BJP that want to provoke the Muslim community, he said, adding that his only message to his community is that they will lose the plot if they get provoked.

‘Muslims not responding to concerted efforts to provoke them’ 

Sareshwala, who has been a rare outspoken Muslim supporter of the Prime Minister since 2003, when Modi was Gujarat chief minister, said Muslims are deliberately not responding to the concerted attempts to provoke them.

“There is a silent churning within the community…We are like Arjuna in the Mahabharata… You bring in uniform civil code, you build the Ram mandir, we won’t get bogged down or react. Our only focus is education,” Sareshwala, a Gujarati businessman, said.

“I tell people from my community, ‘don’t run after parties that don’t give you tickets. Work hard and get selected in competitive exams like the UPSC instead’…That is in our hands,” said Sareshwala, who argued that Muslims must have a share in power. “We do this for 15-20 years, they (political parties) will come running to offer us tickets.”

In 2015, Sareshwala started a countrywide campaign, Taleem ki Taqat (Power of Education), among university-going sections of the Muslim community. “The idea was that our community should understand that education is key; everything else will follow,” he said.

‘BJP’s top leadership not communal’

On engaging with the BJP, Sareshwala said that the party’s top leadership was not communal but added that he was “worried” about the communal disharmony in the country. “I meet several of the ministers and they are all worried about what is happening.”

“It is important to keep the engagement on… Look at what the RSS is saying about Muslims today,” he said, explaining that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s message of inclusiveness is the result of engagement and not provocation.

Also read: Deoras to Bhagwat: The evolution of RSS view on Muslims over the last 70 years

“Now, you cannot expect the RSS to start abusing Hegdewar and Golwalkar, but they are saying what they are saying now,” he said, referring to Bhagwat’s speeches at a three-day conclave in the national capital last week.

At the event, Bhagwat said, “Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist”.

https://theprint.in/governance/pm-modis-muslim-friend-says-communal-monster-will-come-back-to-haunt-bjp/122875/

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Agitating sanitation workers of MCD threaten to convert to Islam

September 22, 2018

New Delhi: Agitating sanitation workers of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) threaten to convert to Islam if their demands are not met. They said they will change the religion on October 5 by reaching Jama Masjid. However, some union leaders have opposed it saying the matter will not resolve this way.

During the demonstration at East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), founder of MCD Swachata Karamchari Union R B Utwal and sanitation workers union president of Delhi Municipal Corporation J Bhagwan Charan announced that if their demands are not met they will be forced to change the religion. They said they will reach Jama Masjid in thousands of numbers and will accept Islam.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/agitating-sanitation-workers-mcd-threaten-convert-islam-1410995/

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Encounter Between Security Forces, Terrorists Underway in J&K's Pulwama

September 23, 2018

Srinagar: An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir during wee hours on Sunday. The firing is underway in Mir Mohalla area. The incident comes two days after three Jammu and Kashmir policemen were abducted and brutally killed by terrorists in Shopian district.

Briefing about the matter, a police official said that a cordon and search operation was launched in Dar Ganie Gund village in Tral’s Aribal area in the south Kashmir following specific intelligence inputs about the presence of militants in the area.

The encounter broke out after the militants fired upon the forces who retaliated, he added.

http://www.india.com/news/india/jammu-and-kashmir-encounter-breaks-out-between-security-forces-terrorists-in-pulwamas-mir-mohalla-firing-underway-3341592/

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ISI instructed J&K terrorists to kill SPOs, intercepted chats reveal

Sep 23, 2018

NEW DELHI: The government’s decision to call off proposed talks between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the sidelines of UNGA within 24 hours of announcing the same was prompted by interception of messages from ISI handlers based in Pakistan directing their foot-soldiers in Kashmir to abduct and kill special police officers of Jammu & Kashmir police.

Sources in the Indian intelligence agencies told TOI the reason behind the dramatic reversal were intercepted messages from Pakistan giving specific and pinpointed instructions to terrorists based in J&K to kill the SPOs immediately after they had been abducted. The messages were chillingly specific, identifying the victims by name. The terrorists on the ground were even directed to spare a civilian they had taken hold of, while killing the three special police officers.

Events unfolded swiftly as per the instructions of Pakistan-based handlers, giving Indian agencies little chance to intervene and thwart the killers. While the bodies of three abducted SPOs — identified as Nisar Ahmad, Firdous Ahmad & Kulwant Singh — were recovered from an orchard, the brother of an SPO, Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, was freed.

The Modi government, taking serious note of the evidence of Pakistan-based elements’ role in abduction and killing of SPOs — with a clear design to disrupt local body polls in J&K — promptly decided to call off the proposed talks with Pakistan foreign minister.

Sources said the government had, in any case, accepted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s talks offer warily. An official said there were doubts if talks between Swaraj and Qureshi would have gone beyond exchange of diplomatic courtesies.

The purpose behind targeting the SPOs was to derail the local body polls being held in J&K after a long gap. Sources in the central intelligence agencies had on Friday confirmed to TOI the abduction and killing of three SPOs of J&K police was aimed at creating a fear psychosis ahead of local body polls and also “scaring” the police personnel into stepping back and becoming “inactive” as terrorists pulled out all stops to vitiate the democratic process.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/isi-instructed-jk-militants-to-kill-spos-intercepted-chats-reveal/articleshow/65917442.cms

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It is time to give a befitting reply to Pakistan, terrorists: Army chief

Sep 22, 2018

NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Saturday said that “it is time” that the barbarism being propagated by the Pakistan army and the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir is given a befitting reply, reported news agency ANI.

"We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists and the Pakistan Army have been carrying out. Yes, it's time to give it back to them in the same coin ... not resorting to similar kind of barbarism. But I think the other side must also feel the same pain," General Rawat said while addressing the media.

We need to take stern action to avenge the barbarism that terrorists

& the Pakistan Army have been carrying out. Ye… https://t.co/enITkw4QVN

— ANI (@ANI) 1537617358000

On questions of talks with Pakistan, the Army chief reiterated the government's stand that talks and terrorism cannot go “I think our government's policy has been quite clear and concise. We've made no bones about the fact that talks and terrorism can't go hand in hand. Pakistan needs to curb the menace of terrorism,” General Rawat added.

The media briefing came shortly after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet said that he was disappointed at India's " arrogant and negative+ " response to his offer of talks.

India had rescinded Pakistan PM's offer+ of a dialogue citing the brutal murder of security personnel in J&K by the terrorists.

Distancing himself from the controversy surrounding the Rafale defence deal, the Army chief said that the modern weapons are a primary requirement of every defence force.

"We continuously need modern weapons. There is a limit till which we can use a particular weapon, and as new technologies come, we also want them to be included in our forces. So buying of weapons continue," the Army chief said.

"But I don't agree that it reduces our spirit. It's not that we don't have some other option. I don't want to talk specifically about Rafale, but modern weapons are the need of every force. The delay in the composition is not good for the force," he added.

The Army chief also dismissed allegations that the armed forces are not being given a free hand to tackle the terrorists.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/it-is-time-to-give-a-befitting-reply-to-pakistan-terrorists-army-chief/articleshow/65913400.cms

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UP Muharram procession: Man injured after contact with live wire in Gorakhpur, mob goes on rampage

September 23, 2018

Gorakhpur district saw violence on Friday evening after a man was injured when he came in contact with a high tension wire during a Muharram procession in Gulhariya Bazar. Seventeen people have been arrested.

The man, 24-year-old Khursheed, was part of a tazia procession. A mob attacked the police and torched a police outpost and vehicle. They were dispersed after more forces were called in.

The FIR lodged in the incident named 24 people, including Khursheed, and around 200 unidentified people. Police said Khursheed instigated the mob.

“Khursheed was standing on a tractor-trolley when he came in contact with the high tension wire at Amwa village,” said Gulhariya Bazar police SHO Jaideep Kumar Verma. “While he was being taken to the hospital, the mob attacked Bhathat police outpost, damaged furniture and set documents on fire. They also assaulted sub-inspector Dileep Kumar Chowdhary and homeguard Om Prakash Singh.”

Circle Officer (Chauri Chaura) Y K Narayan said, “Khursheed was named in the FIR by the police as he was found to be the person instigating the mob to attack the police outpost and thrash the policemen.”

He was admitted to a private hospital from where he disappeared and is absconding, said police, adding that his injuries were minor. Assistant Superintendent of Police (North) Rohit Singh said the FIR was filed under various charges, including rioting and attempt to murder.

In Moradabad, 38 people were injured following a power generator explosion in Machhaula police station area. While 17 were discharged from the hospital, others were undergoing treatment.

Machhaula police SHO Vikas Saxena said, “The incident occurred when an electric bulb on a tazia came in contact with a high tension wire at Jayantipur village.”

In Amroha, 16 people were injured when a tazia on a tractor-trolley came in contact with a high tension wire in Didauli police station area. They are in hospital.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/up-gorakhpur-muharram-procession-man-injured-contact-live-wire-mob-rampage-5370184/

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Imran Khan calls India’s statement cancelling talks ‘arrogant’, his minister makes another offer

Sep 23, 2018

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was disappointed at India’s response to his peace overtures, termed it “arrogant” and “negative”, and said “all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture”, a comment that is certain to raise hackles across the border.

Khan’s response on Twitter came even as Pakistan’s information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Saturday that despite the “unfortunate cancellation” of the planned meeting of foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Pakistan is ready to open the border for Indian pilgrims to access Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur.

India will have to decide on the future course of engagement with Pakistan but Islamabad is ready to discuss all outstanding issues as it believes wars and hostility provide no solution, Chaudhry said in a phone interview a day after India called off a meeting between the foreign ministers of the two countries over terror-related concerns.

The “real issue” between the two sides remains Kashmir, he said, adding that Pakistan is “ready to discuss everything”.

“There are several ways we can handle things. One way is we could go to war, both countries have atomic weapons and those who survive can handle the outstanding issues. But it is foolish to think we can go to war,” said the minister, who is considered to be close to Khan.

“The other way is the approach advocated by (Indian national security adviser Ajit) Doval of ‘defensive offence’ where both sides use measures to internally weaken each other. Or we can sit and discuss all issues between us and find a solution.”

He added: “We are ready to discuss everything. We have fought three wars over the past seven decades and we can’t change our neighbours. It is for India to decide.

“But then elections are coming up in India and maybe anti-Pakistan slogans sell in India. Anti-India slogans don’t sell in Pakistan.”

Chaudhry’s claims are interesting because New Delhi thinks that even if the civilian government of Pakistan wants peace, Rawalpindi General Headquarters (GHQ), its army command, calls the shots, especially where the country’s relationship with India is concerned.

Commodore (retired) C Uday Bhaskar, director of Society for Policy Studies, said terror had once again disrupted tentative attempts at engagement between the two sides. “The reality is that India-Pakistan relations have been hostage to terrorism for almost 20 years and both sides have been unable to surmount this challenge,” he said. But Bhaskar said it was “unlikely Imran Khan would have been able to make a gesture (for peace with India) without keeping the army in the loop”.

India on Friday called off the planned meeting between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, citing the killing of security personnel by Pakistan-based entities and the release of 20 Pakistani stamps glorifying slain Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Chaudhry said Pakistan too had concerns about terrorism purportedly backed by India in Balochistan. “Our intelligence agencies believe India is sponsoring the movements in Balochistan and then there is the case of (Kulbhushan) Jadhav… This issue of cross-border terrorism goes both ways,” he said.

He added that the “real issue between the two countries is Kashmir” and “lakhs of Pakistanis” back the “struggle” in Jammu and Kashmir. “Blaming everything on Pakistan is not right, India too should correct its mistakes. Blaming us for the administrative, financial and other problems in Kashmir is ridiculous,” he said.

Chaudhry also said it would not be possible for both countries to guarantee that there wouldn’t be terror attacks whenever efforts are made for peace talks.

“Our understanding is that the abrupt cancellation of the meeting reflects the confusion within the government in Delhi and the divisions on this issue. You can’t accept (a proposal for a meeting) and reject it within a day,” he added.

Chaudhry said peace efforts had suffered a “big hit” because of the meeting being called off. “Pakistan and India should have moved forward,” he said.

He said India should take advantage of the current consensus between Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership on foreign policy issues. “The government and military are very close and there have been few occasions when their relations have been as exemplary as now,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s policies are linked to the economy and not security, Chaudhry said. “He (Khan) wants to bring crores of people above the poverty line and the latest developments have jeopardised peace efforts in the whole region,” he said.

Despite the latest developments, Pakistan is prepared to open the border at Kartarpur to allow Indian pilgrims to access Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, believed to have been built at the site where Guru Nanak died. “We have completed all the arrangements. This is an issue of the ordinary people, Sikhs and other Indian pilgrims, and an issue of faith. They shouldn’t suffer and we want to formalise the informal proposal the Pakistan Army chief made to (Punjab state minister Navjot) Sidhu,” Chaudhry said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pakistan-pm-imran-khan-calls-india-s-statement-cancelling-talks-arrogant-his-minister-makes-another-offer/story-1wsufQ66Xc31qrcWTt3CVM.html

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Pakistan

 

In one tweet, Imran closes all diplomatic doors, for now

Sep 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reacted in “Trumpesque” fashion on Twitter, lashing out at India’s cancellation of a meeting between Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, describing the decision as “arrogant” and insinuating that PM Narendra Modi lacked vision.

Though the Indian foreign office refused to respond to Khan’s tweet on Modi, the Pakistan PM’s sharp reaction is only likely to further reduce any prospect of a formal exchange in the immediate future. As it is, the Modi government and BJP view the cancellation of the meeting on the sidelines of UNGA in New York as politically fortuitous, regarding the event as liability that might have only allowed Islamabad to gain some PR points With Khan’s mandate to deal with India seen to be largely dictated by the Pakistan army, the Indian government also seems keen to signal that the ground situation will be the evidence it will consider.

India called off the meeting, saying violence in Jammu & Kashmir where policemen have been targeted and killed by Pakistan backed terrorist groups was not conducive for any exchange. India also pointed to the recent release of a series of 20 postage stamps by Pakistan glorifying terrorists killed in India. Rising incidents of violence ahead of panchayat polls in J&K only strengthened fears that the new government’s overtures and appeals to support the “peace constituency” are not matched by Pakistan Army’s actions.

India had been unusually sharp while calling off the meeting, with MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar saying it is obvious that behind Pakistan’s proposal for talks its evil agenda stood exposed and the true face of the new Prime Minister Imran Khan has been revealed to the world.

In response to India’s cancellation, Islamabad pointed out the “alleged” killing and mutilation of a Border Security Force personnel took place two days prior to the Indian announcement of its agreement to hold the bilateral meeting. Pakistan also raised the point that the postage stamps were issued before the July 25 elections, following which Prime Minister Imran Khan assumed office.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/in-one-tweet-imran-closes-all-diplomatic-doors-for-now/articleshow/65917634.cms

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PML-N, PPP hold govt responsible for diplomatic debacle with India

Amir Wasim

September 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The country’s two major opposition parties have held the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government responsible for the latest diplomatic debacle following New Delhi’s refusal to hold a meeting between the two foreign ministers in New York and questioned the “haste being shown by Prime Minister Imran Khan in making efforts to mend fences with India”.

The leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) allege that the government has not done its homework and assessed the situation before approaching India for a meeting, terming the talks offer through a letter written by Prime Minister Imran Khan to his Indian counterpart a “misstep”.

PML-N President and Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif has called on the international community to take notice of the jingoistic statement of the Indian army chief, while stating that “Pakistan is more than capable of defending and responding to any aggression by New Delhi”.

In a tweet, Mr Sharif wrote, “The bellicose & irresponsible statement by the Indian army chief exposes the Indian designs to the world that should immediately take note of New Delhi’s threatening posture. Pakistan extending an olive branch to India should never be misconstrued as weakness.”

“Pakistan’s unwavering patriotic soldiers stand steadfast to defend with might and fury against unprovoked aggression from any threat. While the nation stands united with their intrepid military and against the cowardly threats,” he added.

Talking to Dawn here on Saturday, former foreign minister and PML-N MNA from Sialkot Khawaja Mohammad Asif said it seemed the government was “not prepared” from day one, adding that “too much keenness being shown by the prime minister” showed “weakness on our part”.

“Giving them (India) too much reflects haste on our part to mend fences with India,” he said, adding that he was not against normalisation of relations between the two neighbouring nuclear states, but “dignity must be maintained”.

Mr Asif regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan had written the letter in which he “talked about terrorism” without realising that the US and India had recently issued a joint statement after the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi and Islamabad which was “dead against” Pakistan.

“They (US and India) raised all kinds of allegations against Pakistan and you are talking about terrorism (in the letter). This is a sign of weakness (on our part),” Mr Asif said, while criticising Mr Khan for stating in the letter that “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism”.

Moreover, he said, Mr Khan had offered “olive branch” to India at a time, when it was committing serious human rights violations in India-held Kashmir.

The senior PML-N leader also criticised Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that “he is playing to the gallery” as part of election campaign in his country. He said the PML-N government had always found India’s attitude “unrealistic and obstructive”.

Similarly, PPP Vice-President and the country’s former ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman said the government should have done its homework before approaching India for a meeting, especially after the initial response.

“Right now, however the Indian Govt and Army chief response is both immature and irresponsible. What are they threatening Pakistan about?” she questioned. “They have crossed all diplomatic norms and protocols to emerge as a belligerent nuclear power that is only looking to externalise its own extremisms,” writes Ms Rehman on her official social media page on Twitter.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434477/pml-n-ppp-hold-govt-responsible-for-diplomatic-debacle-with-india

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Terrorist bid foiled in Bajaur; two killed

Anwarullah Khan

September 23, 2018

KHAR: Security forces on Saturday claimed to have foiled a terrorism bid in Bajaur tribal district by killing two terrorists, including one would-be suicide bomber, during an intelligence-based operation in Mamond tehsil.

Security sources said that both terrorists, including a deputy operational ‘commander’ of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Bajaur chapter, were killed during a special operation conducted in the hilly Gat Agra area

The sources stated that the operation was conducted following the information that the terrorists were attempting to carry out terrorism activities in the region. Soon after receiving the information, a contingent of security forces was dispatched to the area which killed the terrorists before they carried out their activities.

They claimed that the deceased deputy operational commander of the TTP Bajaur, who was wearing a suicide jacket, was among the most wanted militants in the district. He said the militant commander had been involved in many terrorist activities in the region, including bomb blasts.

The sources pointed out that the dead militant commander was also involved in collection of extortion from locals on behalf of the TTP Bajaur.

A number of materials, including three 9 mm pistols, 30 rounds of 9 mm pistol, one torch and one mobile set, were recovered from the bodies of terrorists.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434476/terrorist-bid-foiled-in-bajaur-two-killed

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7 soldiers martyred in crossfire with militants in North Waziristan, says ISPR

September 22, 2018

The military’s media wing reported on Saturday that seven soldiers including a captain embraced martyrdom in an exchange of fire with militants during an intelligence-based operation in North Waziristan.

A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public relations said that a group of “terrorists was reported to have infiltrated from across and was hiding in a compound” in Gharlamai area of North Waziristan.

Those who embraced martyrdom include Captain Junaid, Havaldar Amir, Havaldar Atif, Havaldar Nasir, Havaldar Abdul Razzaq, Sepoy Sammi, and Sepoy Anwar.

During the operation by security forces nine terrorists were also killed, whose bodies have been held, read the ISPR statement.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1434330/7-soldiers-martyred-in-crossfire-with-militants-in-north-waziristan-says-ispr

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FM Qureshi to stay in Washington for a day before UN General Assembly session

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

LAHORE: Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, reached Washington DC on Saturday night for a day-long stay before leaving for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session at its New York headquarters.

Qureshi will stay in DC for 24 hours and is scheduled to visit Pakistan’s Embassy in Washington where he would be meeting members of the business community as well as the journalists.

Also read Shah Mehmood Qureshi expresses disappointment over India’s decision

After that, the minister will leave for New York to attend the UN General Assembly’s 73rd session, which opened on September 18 on Monday. Qureshi is heading the Pakistani delegation for the session.

Moreover, during his official visit to the US, Qureshi is also expected to visit his American counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua is also a part of the Pakistani delegation who is on in a week-long visit to the United Nations’ headquarter in New York.

FM Qureshi is expected to present Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly session.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/301692/fm-qureshi-to-stay-in-washington-for-a-day-before-un-general-assembly-session/

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Nine terrorists killed, seven troops martyred in NWA

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

Nine terrorists were killed and seven security personnel martyred in an intense exchange of fire during an operation in North Waziristan Agency on Saturday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

The security forces launched an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in North Waziristan’s Gharlamai and Spera Kunar Algad areas, the statement said. “A group of terrorists was reported to have infiltrated from across and had been hiding in a compound. Nine terrorists were killed with their bodies held during the operation,” it said. “During intense exchange of fire with terrorists, seven Pakistan Army soldiers including an officer embraced martyrdom,” the statement further said.

Those who embraced martyrdom are Captain Junaid, Havaldar Amir, Havaldar Atif, Havaldar Nasir, Havaldar Abdul Razzaq, Sepoy Sammi and Sepoy Anwar.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/301584/nine-terrorists-killed-seven-troops-martyred-in-nwa/

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Children of Pakistanis ‘imprisoned’ in Iran seek federal govt’s help

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

Three children of a tribesman, who is being held in the central prison of Zahedan in Iran since 2007 on the charges of smuggling drugs, on Saturday appealed to the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noor-ul-Haq Qadri and Prime Minister Imran Khan for “assistance” in his release.

Reportedly, 16-year-old Takbirullah, 17-year-old Zarkatullah and 13-year-old Dayanat spoke to the media during a press conference in Landi Kotal.

They revealed that their father Barkatullah, a resident of Khuga Khel town, along with his colleagues was arrested by police in suspicion of smuggling drugs into Iran.

They said that he was promoting his merchandise business in Iran.

“Since then, we have been undergoing financial crisis, and were forced to quit studies,” they said.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/301331/children-of-pakistanis-imprisoned-in-iran-seek-federal-govts-help/

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Traders protest denial of passport free entry into Afghanistan at Torkham

Ahmad Nabi

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

Transporters and local traders on Saturday held a demonstration in Torkham against the National Logistics Cell (NLC) and the Frontier Corps (FC) for making it mandatory for everyone to carry passport for verification at the border before crossing into Afghanistan.

Reportedly, a large number of truckers, local businessmen and auto-parts dealers gathered near Torkham border and chanted full-throat slogans against the NLC and the FC for what they termed as ‘anti-tribesmen’ policies being implemented in the region.

A senior customs clearing agent, Haji Nazeem Gul Shinwari, while leading the demonstration, said that such policies by the NLC and the FC have forced many small-time traders and businessmen to abandon their trading activities at the border.

He said that they were never asked about their passports nor had the Afghan border authorities ever objected to their frequent cross-border movement in connection with their business.

Meanwhile, the officials posted at the main crossing point demanded of a group of local traders on Saturday to have their passports prior to crossing the border. They were returned as none of them had it.

They expressed concerns over authority of the NLC and asserted that it was a private organisation to facilitate imports and exports, and had no right to inspect their passports.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/301307/traders-protest-denial-of-passport-free-entry-into-afghanistan-at-torkham/

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Arab World

 

Big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be billion-dollar industry by 2030

September 22, 2018

DUBAI: The big-screen business in Saudi Arabia will be a billion-dollar industry by 2030, according to experts, as regional and global movie operators queue up for a ticket into the Kingdom’s hugely profitable movie market.

Saudi Arabia is expected to amass the largest share of the cinema business in the Arabian Gulf region by 2030, with hundred of cinemas and thousands of screens set to open across the Kingdom over the next 12 years.

Within months of Saudi Arabia formally ending a 35-year-long ban on cinemas, three cinema operation licenses were awarded to operate in the Kingdom, the first was to AMC Theaters, an American chain owned and operated by Wanda Group. It opened the Kingdom’s first modern cinema on April 18 and plans to open around 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and between 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 cities by 2030.

Shortly after, the second license was awarded to VOX Cinemas, now one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest movie operators. It plans to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia in the next five years, the same number of screens as the company’s regional footprint combined.

In July, it was announced the the third license had been awarded to the Al-Rashed United Group — Empire Cinema — which plans to build 30 theaters in the country over the next three years. And last month, a fourth license was awarded to Lux Entertainment Co., which plans to open 300 cinemas across the Kingdom within five years.

VOX, which plans to open 80 new screens over the next 12 months, says the Kingdom will form half of its overall revenues in the Middle East over the next five years.

“Saudi has huge opportunities and is expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion (SR3.75 billion),” said Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas, of which VOX Cinemas is a subsidiary.

He said the Kingdom’s box-office market is expected to become “one of the largest” in the world, with a majority of its 32-million population under the age of 30. “The market is massive and full of opportunities as the population is young and enthusiastic about cinema.”

Will Saudi Arabia ever host the world premiere of a Hollywood movie? No one’s saying right now, but with such a covetable box-office market, it may only be a matter of time.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1376341/saudi-arabia

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US-led aircraft evacuate Daesh commanders from eastern Syria: Report

Sep 22, 2018

The US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has airlifted to a safe sanctuary several commanders of the foreign-sponsored terror outfit from a region in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, where government forces and fighters from popular defense groups are tightening the noose around the extremists.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that two US-led military aircraft conducted the operation on the outskirts of al-Marashida village, and transported the Takfiris to an unknown location.

SANA, citing information received from local residents, reported on December 29 last year that American helicopters had evacuated Daesh commanders from several districts of Dayr al-Zawr province two days earlier.

Earlier that month, the Syrian government had sent a message to the United Nations, accusing the US-led coalition of reaching deals with Daesh and coordinating its actions with the terror group’s commanders.

On September 10, 2017, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the US-led coalition was trying to destroy the Arab country and prolong the armed conflict there.

Muallem said that Damascus would demand the dissolution of the military contingent, stressing that thousands of Syrian women and children had been killed by coalition airstrikes in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

The top Syrian diplomat further noted that the Pentagon was using the coalition to cover up its destruction campaign in Syria.

He added that the US-backed militiamen from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were fighting Syrian army forces to gain control over the oil-rich areas of the country.

Damascus would not allow any external force to violate its sovereignty, Muallem pointed out.

Last August, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that US-led choppers had transported four Daesh members and a civilian from a house used as an arms depot in Beqres, a suburban area east of Dayr al-Zawr, to a safe area.

According to the report, the five people included a European bomb expert, three Egyptian Daesh members and a local resident of Beqres.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574882/USled-aircraft-evacuate-Daesh-commanders-from-eastern-Syria-Report

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Tahrir Al-Sham Sends Chemical Cargos to ISIL Terrorists in Northern Syria

Sep 22, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, quoted the source as reporting that Tahrir al-Sham has dispatched six cargoes of Sarin and chlorine gas to the ISIL and Ansar al-Towhid terrorists that have recently been deployed in Northern Hama and Northeastern Lattakia.

It further said that most of the regions, where the ISIL has deployed forces in Hama and Lattakia, are among regions where militants should be disarmed based on the Sochi agreement.

The Arabic Sputnik went on to say that the fate of three other chemical cargoes is unknown after a number of members of the pro-militant White Helmets Organization were killed and could not hand over the chemicals to the recipient group in an area between Northeastern Idlib and Aleppo province.

Other news sources recently said that ISIL's Asian members have merged in Tahrir al-Sham and deployed forces in regions that are under the control of al-Turkistani Islamic Party in western and Southwestern Idlib.

An Arab media outlet reported earlier this month that the pro-militant White Helmets Organization, directed by its foreign supporters, were planning to transfer poisonous materials to new locations in Hama province as terrorist groups were trying to stage a false-flag chemical attack.

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV channel quoted a well-informed source in Jisr al-Shughour as disclosing that the White Helmets were planning to transfer a large volume of poisonous materials to Qala al-Maziq and Kafr Naboudeh in Northern Hama as requested by their foreign backers.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970631001116

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Tensions Intensify between US-Backed Militia, Civilians in Northeastern Syria

Sep 22, 2018

The SDF opened fire at people in the village of al-Khalediyah near the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa, killing a villager.

The clashes in al-Khalediyah came after the SDF arrested young men under a forced recruitment plan.

In the meantime, the SDF arrested several young men in the town of Tabaqa in Western Raqqa to force them to join the militias.

A number of people in al-Savameh square in Raqqa city were arrested by the SDF for an alleged attack on the militias' base.

Also, a gunmen of the SDF was killed in a bomb blast in the small town of al-Karamah in Eastern Raqqa, field sources said, adding that the body of an SDF militia has also been discovered in Raqqa city amid intensified attacks by unknown raiders on the group.

Local sources said on Tuesday that the SDF arrested almost two hundred young people in different regions in Raqqa under its forced recruitment plan that has been in practice for the last several months.

The sources further said that the SDF attested over 110 teachers in the town of Ra'as al-Ein and its outskirts, al-Shadadi, al-Ariyeh and al-Houl regions and sent them to their bases.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970631000891

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More Turkish Soldiers, Allied Militants Killed in Clashes with Kurds in Northern Syria

Sep 22, 2018

Hawar news reported that the Kurdish units targeted a vehicle of the Turkish troops along a road betweent the villages of Khaletah and Koblah in Shera region in Afrin, killing two Turkish soldiers and injuring several more.

In the meantime, three gunmen of the Ankara-backed Sultan Murad militant group were killed after their vehicle came under the Kurdish militia attack along a road connecting Rajou to Mobata in Afrin, Hawar news said, adding that the Kurds seized the militants' arms and ammunition.

On Tuesday, the Ankara-backed militants looted a warehouse of a privately-owned Auto spare parts company in the Old Neighborhood in the town of Afrin.

The militants stole the entire spare parts from a warehouse in the Old Neighborhood of Afrin, and then smuggled them to an unknown place.

In the meantime, members of Sultan Murad terrorist group cut power cables near Nirouz Square in Central Afrin.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970631000612

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Child drowns after boat carrying Syrian refugees sinks off Lebanon

22 September 2018

A boat with around three dozen Syrian refugees on board sank off the coast of Lebanon on Saturday and most were rescued by the Lebanese army but at least one child drowned, security sources said.

The boat was ferrying the refugees illegally to Cyprus, some 180 km away, when it foundered off the coast of northern Lebanon, the sources said. Three more of the people on boat were in a serious condition in hospital.

Lebanon is hosting around 1 million registered refugees from Syria's civil war, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. The Lebanese government puts the figure at around 1.5 million.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/09/22/Child-drowns-after-boat-carrying-Syrian-refugees-sinks-off-Lebanon.html

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UAE completes withdrawal of troops from Yemen’s Mahrah province: Report

Sep 22, 2018

The last batch of Emirati troops, who had served in a Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s eastern province of Mahrah, have arrived home after the Abu Dhabi regime ordered them to withdraw.

Informed sources, requesting anonymity, told Arabic-language Yemen Shabab television network on Saturday that the United Arab Emirates withdrew its forces the previous day, and handed over buildings used by its troops to local authorities.

The sources added that mercenaries and military advisers from African countries would most likely replace Emirati soldiers.

The UAE is Saudi Arabia’s key ally in its deadly war against Yemen.

On Saturday, Yemeni army soldiers, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, targeted the positions of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi at the al-Alab border crossing of the kingdom’s southern region of Asir.

There were no immediate reports about possible casualties or the extent of damage caused.

Separately, an elderly woman sustained injuries when Saudi rockets and mortar shells rained down on residential areas in the Razih district of Yemen’s northwestern mountainous province of Sa’ada.

Moreover, two civilians lost their lives and another two suffered serious injuries when a Saudi airstrike hit a cold storage at Kilo 16 area of al-Hali district in the strategic western Yemeni province of Hudaydah.

A Saudi airstrike against a car rental company in the July 7 area of the same Yemeni province also injured two civilians and left a number of cars burnt out.

High-profile Saudi-backed commander slain in northern Yemen

Additionally, a senior commander of Saudi mercenaries has been killed during clashes with Houthi Ansarullah fighters in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah.

Brigadier General Ali Hazza al-Sayadi, the commander of the Special Forces Brigade in Harad, was reportedly targeted in the Harad district of the province on Saturday evening.

Yemeni ballistic missile targets Saudi Jizan Airport

Meanwhile, Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, fired a domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missile at a strategic economic target in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan in retaliation for the Riyadh regime’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country.

A Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the short-range Badr-1 missile struck Jizan Airport, also known as King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Airport, with great precision, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574889/UAE-completes-withdrawal-of-troops-from-Yemens-Mahrah-province-Report

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Pro-Turkey Syria rebels accept Idlib deal, albeit cautiously

September 23, 2018

BEIRUT: Pro-Turkey rebels have cautiously accepted a Moscow-Ankara deal to prevent a Russia-backed regime attack on Syria’s last major opposition bastion of Idlib, while a small militant group has rejected it.

The dominant force in the northwestern region bordering Turkey, the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) alliance led by militants of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, had on Sunday however still not responded.

Late Saturday, the National Liberation Front (NLF) rebel alliance in a statement accepted the deal reached on Monday for Idlib, but said they remained on their guard.

They announced “our full cooperation with our Turkish ally in helping to make a success their efforts to spare civilians from the afflictions of war.”

“But we will stay alert to any betrayal by the Russians, the regime or the Iranians,” the NLF warned, fearing the agreement to be “temporary.”

“We will not abandon our weapons, our land or our revolution” against the Russia- and Iran-backed forces of President Bashar Assad, the rebels said.

Also on Saturday, in a statement circulated on social media, the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen rejected the agreement reached in the Russian resort of Sochi.

“We at the Hurras Al-Deen organization again announce our rejection of these conspiracies,” it said.

Monday’s agreement provides for a U-shaped buffer zone 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) wide to be set up around Idlib.

Under the deal, all factions in the planned demilitarized zone must hand over their heavy weapons by October 10, and radical groups must withdraw by October 15.

Both the extremist Hurras Al-Deen and NLF rebels are present inside this planned buffer area, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

But the dominant HTS alliance is also widely present, according to the Britain-based monitor.

The militant-led group — which controls more than half of the Idlib region — has not officially responded to the agreement.

But its propaganda agency Ebaa has cast doubt on Turkey’s motivations.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1376456/middle-east

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Mideast

 

Islamic State claims killing of 29 at Iran military parade

Sep 22, 2018

TEHRAN: Militants shot dead at least 29 people including women and children in an attack on Saturday on an Iranian military parade claimed by the Islamic State group, as Tehran accused a US ally in the region of the assault.

The attack in the southwestern city of Ahvaz came as the country marked the anniversary of the start of its 1980-1988 war with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and prompted President Hassan Rouhani to warn of a "crushing response".

"The response of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the smallest threat will be crushing", Rouhani said on his official website. "Those who give intelligence and propaganda support to these terrorists must answer for it." Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet that the attack near the Iraqi border was carried out by "terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime".

"Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks," he wrote.

IS jihadists said via their propaganda mouthpiece Amaq that "Islamic State fighters attacked a gathering of Iranian forces" in Ahvaz.

The city lies in Khuzestan, a province bordering Iraq that has a large ethnic Arab community and has seen separatist violence in the past that Iran has blamed on its regional rivals.

State television gave a casualty toll of 29 dead and 57 wounded, while official news agency IRNA said those killed included women and children among spectators at the rally. Many of the wounded were in critical condition.

Armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said the dead included a young girl and a former serviceman in a wheelchair.

"Of the four terrorists, three were sent to hell at the scene, while the fourth who had been wounded and arrested went to hell moments ago due to his severe wounds," Shekarchi told state television.

Khuzestan deputy governor Ali-Hossein Hosseinzadeh told the semi-official ISNA news agency that "eight to nine" troops were among those killed, as well as a journalist.

Zarif did not specify which regional government he held responsible for the shooting, but Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said the attackers were funded by Sunni arch-rival Saudi Arabia.

"Those who opened fire on civilians and the armed forces have links to the Ahvazi movement," Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif told ISNA.

"They are funded by Saudi Arabia and attempted to cast a shadow over the Iranian armed forces." Zarif vowed Iran would "respond swiftly and decisively in defence of Iranian lives".

In a message of condolence to Russia's close regional ally, President Vladimir Putin said he was "appalled by this bloody crime".

"This event once again reminds us about the necessity of an uncompromising battle against terrorism in all of its manifestations." Khuzestan was a major battleground of the 1980s war with Iraq and the attack on the anniversary parade in Ahvaz had significant symbolic value.

The province saw unrest in 2005 and 2011 but has since seen been largely quiet. Attacks by Kurdish rebels on military patrols along the border further north are relatively common. But attacks on regime targets inside major cities are far rarer.

On June 7, 2017, 17 people were killed and dozens wounded in simultaneous attacks in Tehran on the parliament building and on the tomb of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini -- the first inside Iran claimed by the Sunni Muslim extremists of the Islamic State group. In April, 26 alleged IS jihadists went on trial on charges connected with that twin attack.

The attack in Ahvaz came as President Rouhani was among dignitaries at the main anniversary parade in Tehran.

In a keynote speech, Rouhani vowed to boost Iran's ballistic missile capabilities despite Western concerns that were cited by his US counterpart Donald Trump in May when he abandoned a landmark nuclear deal with Tehran.

"We will never decrease our defensive capabilities... we will increase them day by day," Rouhani said at a military parade. "The fact that the missiles anger you shows they are our most effective weapons," he said, referring to the West.

Iran has ballistic missiles with a range of up to 3,500 kilometres, enough to reach both Israel and US bases in the Middle East.

The United States reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran last month, and a new round of even harsher sanctions targeting Iran's vital oil sector is set to go back into effect on November 5.

Washington has said it is ready to open talks on a new agreement to replace the July 2015 accord, but Tehran has said repeatedly it cannot negotiate under the pressure of the sanctions.

Trump and Rouhani will both be in New York next week for the United Nations General Assembly. But Iran has repeatedly ruled out any meeting.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/islamic-state-claims-killing-of-29-at-iran-military-parade/articleshow/65913750.cms

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President Rouhani Warns of Crushing Response to Terrorist Attack in Ahwaz

Sep 22, 2018

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's response to the slightest threat will be crushing but those who support these terrorists with their propaganda and intelligence should account," President Rouhani said in separate phone conversations with Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli and Governor-General of Khouzestan province Gholamreza Shariati on Saturday.

He extended his condolences to the bereaved families of the victims, and ordered all relevant bodies to adopt all necessary measures to treat the wounded people.

He also ordered the intelligence ministry to mobilize all possibilities and security and military bodies to identify and punish the terrorists and their links.

29 people were killed and 70 were injured in the Saturday morning attack by al-Ahwaziyeh terrorist group during the nationwide military parades in Iran's Southwestern city of Ahwaz.

"29 people were martyred and 70 others were wounded during the terrorist attack on the Armed Forces' parades in Ahwaz," Deputy Governor-General of Khouzestan province Hossein Hosseinzadeh told FNA on Saturday.

Earlier, Governor-General of Ahvaz Gholamreza Shariati had told the state-run news agency IRNA that "the wounded have been transferred to Ahwaz hospitals".

He added that the terrorists attacked the bystanders watching the annual Armed Forces' parades, marking the start of the Sacred Defense Week, commemorating Iranians' sacrifices during the 8 years of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran in 1980s, in disguise of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij (volunteer) forces, killing and wounding several people, including innocent women and children.

Shariati said that none of the officials participating in the military parades in Ahvaz city in Khouzestan province was injured in the attack.

He also said that based on preliminary reports, 4 terrorists carried out the Saturday attack in Ahwaz, adding that two of them were killed and two others were arrested.

But, Spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi told FNA that 4 terrorists carried out the attack during military parades in Ahwaz, noting that three of them were killed and the last one was captured by security forces.

He added that none of the terrorists could escape, noting that other reports about the details of the attack are not confirmed.

Meantime, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Public Relations Department and IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif told ISNA news agency that the terrorists who attacked people during the Armed Forces' parades in Ahwaz were affiliated to al-Ahwaziyeh stream which is nourished by Saudi Arabia.

He added that the terrorists aimed to overshadow the magnificence of the Iranian Armed Forces' parades.

General Sharif said that people were also invited to watch the parades and the terrorists both fired at people and the Armed Forces.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970631001091

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Iran summons European diplomats after deadly military parade attack

23 September 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday the United States wants to create insecurity in the Islamic Republic, a day after an attack on a military parade that killed 29 people, including 12 members of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

The attack, which also injured 60 people, was one of the worst ever against the Guards.

“Iran’s answer (to this attack) is forthcoming within the framework of law and our national interests,” said Rouhani, adding that the United States will regret its “aggressiveness”.

Iran summoned diplomats from Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain over the attack on the army parade, state-run media said on Sunday.

The Dutch and Danish ambassadors and the British charge d’affaires were “informed of Iran’s strong protests over their respective countries’ hosting of some members of the terrorist group” which carried out the attack, official news agency IRNA said.

An Ahwazi political group refuted claims that ISIS carried out the deadly attack on the military parade.

The spokesman of the “Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz” Yaquob Hurr al-Tisteri said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel that “ISIS claims of the attack are not true”.

He then said that the attack was executed by national resistance individuals without specifying whether his group had any specific knowledge on which group carried out the attack.

The spokesman told Al Arabiya that civilians were killed due to random shooting by the Iranian security forces and that sources on the ground said individuals “responded in retaliation”.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the security forces to use their powers to identify the perpetrators of the attack.

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country would respond “quickly and decisively” to the attack, charging agents of a “foreign regime” with responsibility.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/09/23/Iran-summons-European-diplomats-after-deadly-military-parade-attack.html

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ISIS falsely claims responsibility for Ahwaz attack, Iranian opposition says

22 September 2018

An Ahwazi political group has refuted claims that ISIS carried out the deadly attack on a military parade in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahwaz on Saturday, killing at least 29 people, including 12 Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and injuring 60 others. The spokesman of the "Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz" Yaquob Hurr al-Tisteri said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel that “ISIS claims of the attack are not true”.

He then said that the attack was executed by national resistance individuals without specifying whether his group had any specific knowledge on which group carried out the attack.

The spokesman told Al Arabiya that civilians were killed due to random shooting by the Iranian security forces and that sources on the ground said individuals "responded in retaliation".

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the security forces to use their powers to identify the perpetrators of the attack.

For his part, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country would respond “quickly and decisively” to the attack, charging agents of a “foreign regime” with responsibility.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/09/22/ISIS-falsely-claims-responsibility-for-Ahwaz-attack-Iranian-opposition-says.html

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Fatah accuses Hamas of colluding with Israeli government

22 September 2018

The Palestinian Fatah faction has accused the Hamas leadership of colluding with the Israeli government and abandoning the "right of return" principle.

In a statement released on Friday, Fatah said that the Hamas movement is sending messages to the American administration and to the Israeli government, asserting its acceptance of a deal on the basis of a state in Gaza under its control with a long term truce, at the expense of an independent Palestinian state to be established within the June 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital and the Right of Return of the Palestinian People.

The movement pointed out that the Palestinian president rejected the US-Israeli proposal on what was described as the “deal of the century” in the name of the Palestinian people, but Hamas leaders are working to send signals of willingness to accept.

Fatah also pointed out that Hamas is carrying out its plan, “exploiting the public’s preoccupation with the battles of steadfastness on the ground in Jerusalem and Khan al-Ahmar, and in all the sites of confronting the settlement and the occupation.”

News about Qatari communications and Hamas’ approval

Israeli TV channel 10 previously revealed that Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani tried to contact by telephone, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convince Israel of Doha's plan to conclude a truce agreement with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, led by Hamas, through written messages and confidential communications in order to communicate with Netanyahu and convince him.

The TV channel further revealed that Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, sent a letter last May aimed at delivering a plan.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/09/22/Fatah-accuses-Hamas-of-colluding-with-Israeli-occupation.html

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Arab Coalition to open humanitarian corridors for civilians in Yemen’s Hodeidah

23 September 2018

The Arab Coalition announced on Saturday that it would soon open safe corridors for Yemeni civilians and relief and humanitarian convoys in the province of Hodeidah.

The coalition, which is fighting against Yemen’s Houthi militia, confirmed that the opening of the corridors comes in agreement with the United Nations following intensive meetings focusing on the humanitarian situation.

Hodeidah has recently witnessed a massive exodus of Houthi militias following Arab Coalition and Yemeni government attacks.

The militia had been shelling of homes in several areas including Durahemi, al-Tahta, Hays, Taif, al-Manar and Zubaid.

They also planted mines and explosive devices on farms and roads amid daily shelling using mortars and Katyusha rockets.

Since the militia took over Hodeidah, the militias have displaced thousands of residents.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/09/23/Arab-Coalition-to-open-humanitarian-corridors-for-Hodeidah-civilians.html

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Yemeni army clears 500 mines planted by Houthi militias in Saada

22 September 2018

The engineering teams of the Yemeni army supported by the coalition were able to extract 500 mines and improvised explosive devices planted by the Houthi militias in a number of areas of the Kataf district of Saada.

A source on one of the engineering teams in Saada confirmed that they were continuing demining operations from the liberated areas to secure them before the citizens are able return to their homes.

The source pointed out that the Houthis have disguised hundreds of mines within populated areas.

He said that the amount that has been extracted so far distributed between 200 mines and armored vehicles, and 300 explosive devices weighing between 3-80 kg.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/09/22/Yemeni-army-clears-500-mines-planted-by-Houthi-militias-in-Saada.html

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Israel gives Bedouin villagers until end of month to leave

September 23, 2018

JERUSALEM: Israeli authorities issued a notice to residents of a Bedouin village in a strategic spot in the occupied West Bank on Sunday informing them they have until the end of the month to leave.

The fate of Khan Al-Ahmar has drawn international concern, with European countries calling on Israel not to move ahead with plans to demolish it.

Israel’s supreme court on September 5 rejected appeals against demolition, allowing authorities to move ahead.

Israel says the village was built without the proper permits, though it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to receive such permission in that part of the West Bank.

The notice given to the some 200 residents of Khan Al-Ahmar on Sunday says they have until the end of the month to demolish the village themselves.

“Pursuant to a supreme court ruling, residents of Khan Al-Ahmar received a notice today requiring them to demolish all the structures on the site by October 1st, 2018,” a statement from the Israeli defense ministry unit that oversees civilian affairs in the West Bank said.

It did not say what will happen if they refuse to do so. Village residents vowed not to leave despite the notice.

“No one will leave. We will have to be expelled by force,” said village spokesman Eid Abu Khamis, adding that a residents’ meeting would be held later on the issue.

“If the Israeli army comes to demolish, it will only be by force.”

The village is located in a strategic spot east of Jerusalem, near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.

There have been warnings that continued settlement building in the area would eventually divide the West Bank in two, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1376461/middle-east

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Europe

 

One year on, far right has transformed German politics

September 23, 2018

A year after surging into parliament, lawmakers from the far-right AfD party have upended the normally staid world of German politics, with provocations and insults now the order of the day in the venerable Bundestag.

Taking up 92 seats in the lower house of parliament, the country's largest opposition party uses every chance it gets to rail against immigration, Islam and especially Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The combative rhetoric, some of it unthinkable until a few years ago, has at times stunned seasoned lawmakers. But the tactic appears to be paying off.

Recent surveys suggest the AfD would garner 18 percent of votes if elections were held now, second only to Merkel's centre-right CDU, itself weakened by the rise of the far right.

"The parliamentary culture is now more confrontational," said Paul Nolte, a history professor at the Free University of Berlin.

"The AfD is not considered a normal party, and in the Bundestag it doesn't act like a normal party," he told AFP.

'New era'

In what the Frankfurter Allgemeine daily called "a historic turning point", the AfD took 12.6 percent of votes in last year's September 24 elections to win its first seats in the national parliament.

Not bad for a party that started out as an anti-euro outfit just four years earlier, before capitalising on anger over Merkel's 2015 decision to open the borders at the height of Europe's migrant crisis.

The AfD's success caused a political earthquake in Germany, where no far-right party had had a large-scale presence in the Bundestag since the end of World War II.

Setting the tone in the first parliamentary session, AfD parliamentary group chief Bernd Baumann said "a new era begins now", and promptly sparked a row with an erroneous historical remark about notorious Nazi Hermann Goering.

Since then, the once consensus-driven mood in the glass-domed Bundestag has given way to fierce debates peppered with taunts and calls to order.

"They have changed the daily discourse, including in the Bundestag, with words like 'knife migrants', 'asylum flood' and 'asylum tourism'," Greens MP Renate Kuenast told the Frankfurter Allgemeine.

The growing public acceptance of such language and the far-right taboos that are being smashed are "a bigger and more fundamental change than the changes brought by Germany's reunification", she added.

"Verbal provocations are certainly one of our characteristics," AfD MP Rene Springer told AFP.

'Dungheap'

In June, an AfD lawmaker caused outrage by using his allocated debate time to call for a minute's silence for 14-year-old Susanna Feldmann who was raped and murdered, allegedly by a failed Iraqi asylum seeker in a case that fuelled anti-migrant sentiment in Germany.

Other MPs accused the AfD of shamelessly politicising the death, while Bundestag president Wolfgang Schaeuble rebuked the lawmaker for not following procedure.

Rounding on its critics, AfD MP Gottfried Curio recently described the party as the victim of "hatred and being hunted" by other parties.

The words deliberately echoed Merkel's condemnation of last month's far-right protests in Chemnitz, where she said foreigners were "hunted down" during protests triggered by the fatal stabbing of a German man, allegedly by asylum seekers.

When Social Democratic MP Johannes Kahrs called the presence of right-wing radicals in the Bundestag "unappetising", the AfD's entire parliamentary faction walked out in protest.

The SPD's Martin Schulz, a former European Parliament chief, dialled up the heat even more in a scathing takedown of the AfD this month in which he told the far-right party's co-leader Alexander Gauland he belonged "on the dungheap of history".

The remark referenced Gauland's controversial description of the Nazi period as a mere "speck of bird poop" in 1,000 years of German history.

'Bored'

AfD MP Springer however said Germany's lawmakers tend to cool it down away from the cameras, when the "tone towards us becomes more sober".

But aside from the high-profile spats, the AfD has yet to make much of a mark when it comes to performing legislative duties.

Several of its lawmakers "appear bored" and show little interest for the minutiae of daily parliamentary business, the pro-business FDP party's Marco Buschmann told the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

AfD MPs are also routinely criticised for their lack of political experience and thin grasp of policy issues.

"There's a potential for more professionalism," one AfD lawmaker admitted.

Nevertheless, said Nolte, "the AfD's parliamentary group has shown itself to be a bit more stable, consistent and homogenous than some had predicted".

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/09/23/one-year-on-far-right-has-transformed-german-politics.html

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Putin slams act of terror during Iranian military parade, says ready to boost fight against terrorism

Sep 22, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed his “deepest condolences” to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a terrorist attack on an army parade in southwestern Iran left multiple people killed and wounded, denouncing the “bloody crime” and calling for an “uncompromising” joint combat against terrorism in all of its forms and “manifestations.”

The Russian leader made the comments in a message sent to his Iranian counterpart on Saturday, a few hours after four gunmen, disguised in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij uniforms, opened fire on people from behind a viewing stand at Quds Boulevard in the city of Ahvaz during the parade held to mark the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Iran in the 1980s.

Deputy Governor of Khuzestan Province Ali Hossein Hosseinzadeh told Iran's Mehr News Agency that the death toll had risen to 25 from an initial figure of 10. He added that at least 60 other people had sustained injury. A four-year-old boy was also among those who had received fatal wounds.

Three of the terrorists were shot dead at the scene while a fourth was arrested and later succumbed to his wounds, armed forces spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi said.

“Please accept the deepest condolences regarding the tragic consequences of the raid by terrorists in Ahvaz. We are appalled by this bloody crime,” said Putin in his message, a copy of which was posted on the Kremlin website.

“We expect that everyone involved will face a deserved punishment. This event once again reminds us about the necessity of an uncompromising battle against terrorism in all of its manifestations. I would like to confirm our readiness to continue building cooperation with Iranian partners in resisting this evil,” the Russian leader added.

Putin also extended his heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved and wished speedy recovery to the wounded.

The Saudi-backed al-Ahvaziya terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) only used the word "attack" for the act of terror.

Similarly, Reuters and others described the incident as an "attack" instead of a terrorist one, whereas they have been quick to use "terrorist attack" for similar incidents that have taken place in Europe over the past few years.

Meanwhile, the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack but provided no evidence for the claim.

Syria denounces Ahvaz terror attack

In the wake of the bloodshed in the Iranian city, the Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement, vehemently condemning the act of terror and stressing that terrorists and those supporting them in the region would not be able to achieve their goals through such crimes.

An unnamed official source from the ministry further told Syria's official SANA news agency that Damascus had expressed its “full sympathy” to and “solidarity” with Iran, reaffirming that those behind “such sordid crimes” were doomed to fail.

The official also offered the Syrian government’s “warmest condolences” to the Iranian leadership, government and people as well as families of the victims, wishing quick recovery to the wounded.

In a condolence message to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also condemned "in the strongest terms this cowardly and criminal terrorist act."

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has stood against terrorism in Syria and denounced terrorism in the international arena, all the way being honest in its principled and determined stance against Takfri and criminal terrorism,” added the Syrian president.

“I would like to affirm once more to you and to the friendly Iranian people that we are with you with all the power we have against these terrorist acts, and we hope that the backers, financers and supporters of terrorism will understand that this danger threatens mankind as a whole, urging them to reconsider their positions in backing terrorism in various parts of the world,” Assad said, according to the Syria's official news agency SANA.

Hezbollah: Ahvaz attack in reaction to resistance front victories

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement also condemned the attack in a statement, saying it was aimed at undermining the security and stability of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"This crime is a direct response to the major victories achieved by the resistance front in the region," the movement said, adding that the attack was a continuation of other forms of war waged by the US and its allies, including unjust economic sanctions.

It, however, said that such attacks would never affect Iran’s strength or its constant support for the Palestinians’ resistance and other freedom-seeking nations in the world.

Yemen’s Ansarullah slams “cowardly” terror attack

Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement, in a brief statement, condemned the terrorist attack in Ahvaz, saying that some staunch allies of the United States in the region were behind the “appalling “crime.”

It added that those who orchestrated the act of terror would only achieve more loss.

Pakistan against any terrorism

In a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office, Islamabad also slammed the deadly terrorist attack and expressed solidarity with Tehran and the families of those killed and wounded in the brutal shooting.

Elsewhere in the statement, cited by the Daily Pakistan, the ministry said the Pakistani government was against any kind of terrorism.

Turkey slams “heinous” terror attack

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also “strongly condemned” the terrorist attack in a statement carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

“We wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to the wounded. We convey our condolences to the people and Government of Iran,” the statement said.

Oman strongly slams the terror attack

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman denounced the Ahvaz terror attack, adding that Muscat condemned all forms of terrorism and violence regardless of the reasons.

It also extended condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the “friendly” Iranian people, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.

Armenia denounces “inhuman acts” of terrorists in Iran

Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, in a condolence letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, also expressed his sympathy to the Iranian people, particularly families of the victims.

“Such inhuman acts once again reaffirm our conviction that it’s necessary to join all the efforts in fight against that evil,” he said, adding, “Strictly condemning what happened, I wish steadfastness and spiritual strength to the relatives of the victims and speedy recovery to the injured.”

Azerbaijan condemns “treacherous” terror attack

Azerbaijan Republic’s Defense Minister Colonel General Zakir Hasanov, in a message, denounced the terrorist incident in Ahvaz and offered his condolences to his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Amir Hatami and Chief of Staff of Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574885/Iran-Russia-Putin-

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Russia rejects Israeli findings on downed plane

Sep 22, 2018

Russia has rejected the findings of an Israeli investigation into the deadly crash of a Russian military aircraft in the Syrian province of Latakia, and called on Tel Aviv to launch a new probe into the matter.

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper said on Friday that the Russians had not accepted Israel's findings, which considered Russia and Syria responsible for the downing of a Russian Ilyushin 20 reconnaissance aircraft some 35 kilometers off the coast of ‎Latakia as it was returning to a nearby Russian base earlier in the week. 15 Russian servicemen were killed in the incident.

Haaretz’ report came after an Israeli delegation led by Amikam Norkin, the regime’s air force commander, visited Moscow to brief Russian officials on Tel Aviv’s initial investigation of the incident.

The paper said the visit failed to defuse the crisis and the Kremlin rejected the Israeli conclusion that Syrian forces were to blame for the incident.

During their meetings in Moscow, Norkin’s delegation claimed that the Syrian military had fired more than 20 missiles – including the missile that hit the Russian plane – “in an unprofessional manner.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an Israeli military official said the Israeli warplanes were “nowhere near the Russian plane when it was shot down,” adding that the aircraft had been fired upon at a point when Israel’s aircraft were already landing in Israel.

The delegation claimed that the Russians did have sufficient advance notice, but failed to divert the plane from harm’s way after it had completed its surveillance mission.

Earlier, the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv had censured Israel for its “irresponsible and unfriendly actions,” and pinned the blame on Israel’s Air Force, which was conducting aerial assaults against Syrian army positions when the incident happened.

“Moscow views as irresponsible and unfriendly actions of Israeli Air Force, which exposed Russian Il-20 aircraft to danger and led to the deaths of 15 servicemen,” it said in a tweet, adding that Russia would “take all necessary measures to eliminate the threat to life and security of our military fighting against terrorism.”

The Israel regime has over the past years carried out numerous strikes against the Syrian army positions in what is widely viewed as an attempt to help the terrorists survive in the face of successful Syrian army operations. It has defied criticisms of its unlawful military actions against Syrian soil.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574873/Russia-Israeli-investigation-plane-crash-Latakia

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia marching ahead with shared visions & partnership

Sep 23, 2018

At the outset, we would like to convey our heartfelt congratulations and deep gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on this very auspicious occasion of the National Day of the Kingdom.

Bangladesh has been enjoying excellent relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for many years, with advancement of new partnerships in mutually interested areas such as trade, investment, education, ICT, manpower etc. The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and people of Bangladesh consider Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the government of Saudi Arabia as a true, trusted and tested friend always and regard them as the leader of Muslim Ummah.

We deeply appreciate the visionary and dynamic role of the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman in his relentless efforts in uplifting the Saudi economy, society and people through pragmatic reform measures with advancement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, under the wise and dynamic leadership of King Salman.

We are happy and proud to inform the readers that this year in March the United Nations declared that Bangladesh has met the graduation criteria from the LDC (Lower Developing Country) category to Developing Country. This could be achieved due to the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as under her able leadership, for nearly a decade, Bangladesh has followed pragmatic development strategies, which resulted in inclusive economic growth, structural transformation and remarkable social progress.

It is pertinent to note that Bangladesh met all three criteria for graduation from LDC, its per capita GNI (Gross National Income) is $1,610 whereas UN threshold was $1,230, the HAI (Human Asset Index) is 72.9 whereas threshold was 66 and EVI (Economic Vulnerability Index) is 24.8 whereas threshold was 32. Given this backdrop, Bangladesh is now emerging an important country where there are plenty of opportunities in trade and investment.

Bangladesh is marching ahead with a significant growth rate of 7.86 this year, being the highest ever in Bangladesh, with business-friendly environment and competitive cost structure that can give best returns. It is an ideal destination for Saudi entrepreneurs as it has a very dynamic young talented Muslim population (almost 90% population is Muslim) with attractive incentives. Potential investors may explore enormous potentialities in investment opportunities in different sectors, such as tourism industry, IT, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, etc. in Bangladesh.

These all were possible due to visionary statesmanship of Bangladesh Prime Minister with her special 10 initiatives — one house one farm and rural savings bank, sheltering project, digital Bangladesh, education assistance program, women empowerment, electricity to every household, community clinic and mental health, social safety net program, investment expansion, and environment protection.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina undertook three official visits recently to the Kingdom, first one in June 2016 for bilateral meeting, second one in May 2017 to attend Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh and the recent one in April this year to attend Gulf Shield-1 Military exercise. All these visits created a new dimension of our bilateral relations. Saudi leadership lauded the role of Bangladesh in maintaining peace and stability through UN peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh always stands ready to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a member of ‘Islamic Alliance’ to fight against terrorism and violent extremism. The Bangladesh Prime Minister reiterated firm commitment towards ‘zero tolerance’ to this menace.

Both the countries increasingly recognize the mutually beneficial potential to expand bilateral economic cooperation across a range of areas. Trade between the two nations has increased significantly in the recent years though at a modest level as yet. By July 2018, Bangladesh exports to KSA are around $350 million whereas Bangladesh import from KSA stands at around $750 million. During the visit of Prime Minister Hasina, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) organized a business session where leading Saudi businessmen took part as well as ten leading Bangladesh businessmen, who were accompanying the Prime Minister, were present.

In the Business session Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for more investment and exploring business opportunities in Bangladesh. She also offered a special economic zone out of 100 special economic zones to Saudi investors. At the call of the Prime Minister, Economic Adviser of the Royal court expressed keen interest to invest in Bangladesh through their Public Investment Fund (PIF) in ‘commercially viable projects’.

As a follow up to the invitation of Bangladesh Prime Minister, a 21-member high-powered Saudi business delegation visited Bangladesh from Dec. 4-7 2017, when they had very fruitful interactive sessions with their Bangladeshi counterparts as well as meetings with Finance Minister and Commerce Minister of Bangladesh. In the coming days, we are expecting a number of interactions between two business communities for expanding ties in trade and investment to realize the Visions of both nations in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

Bangladesh Prime Minister inaugurated the 45th session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in Dhaka on May 2018. Bangladesh, as chair of OIC CFM, expects to actively engage in activities for welfare of the Muslim world through the revitalized OIC.

For several decades, Bangladesh has been meeting the need of workers in several work streams in the Saudi labor market. The Bangladeshi migrant community has established their credentials in a longer term; and working with considerable appreciation of the Saudi peoples. In the process, they are also a part of contemporary Saudi economic growth.

As of date, more than one and a half million Bangladeshi professionals and workers are living in KSA, spread across the Kingdom. Many of them have also moved along as entrepreneurs in the Kingdom. In recent meetings between Bangladesh and Saudi officials it was agreed to stress upon on the institutions, curricula, related facilities, etc. in Bangladesh vis-à-vis academic and professional qualifications while proceeding on future recruitment of Bangladeshi workers including professionals. It is a timely initiative by both the governments to have a transparent and robust recruitment mechanism for lowering migration cost.

Recently the government of Saudi Arabia has opened up investment opportunities for Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who can either invest solely or with Saudi partnership as Joint Venture projects in different areas such as aquaculture and fisheries, construction, human resources training, tourism and many more areas. Recently the Governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) — the Saudi Invest expressed his willingness to support Bangladeshi investors coming to the Kingdom. SAGIA offers advice and services to support interested parties from the initial planning stage through to after care.

Given this backdrop of enhancement of bilateral engagements, the government of Bangladesh under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken pragmatic measures to build its own Chancery Complex of the Embassy of Bangladesh in Riyadh (at Diplomatic Quarters), and it is expected that by October 2018, the Embassy would be commence its services there.

Saudi Arabia is vigorously pursuing the Saudi Vision 2030 which offers Bangladesh to look at new areas of engagements in all areas such as manpower, trade, investment, education, agriculture etc. Similarly, Bangladesh’s Vision 2021 to become a Middle Income Country and the Vision 2041 to attain the status of a developed country warrants Bangladesh to work closely with the Kingdom towards fast-growing cooperation in all areas, particularly in trade and investment.

Bangladesh’s geo-strategic location in the global market with USA, EU duty free access and some of the key global value chains, provides a significant demand for quality infrastructure where Saudi Arabia may consider investing. Both countries should opt for transformation of respective economies for the bright future of the peoples. Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia are actively pursuing to have collaboration and cooperation in different areas with shared visions and partnership in achieving SDGs by 2030.

Moshi is the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia & Islam is Deputy Chief of Mission, Bangladesh Embassy Riyadh

http://saudigazette.com.sa/article/543980/SAUDI-ARABIA/Saudi-National-Day/Bangladesh-Saudi-Arabia-marching-ahead-with-shared-visions-amp-partnership

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5 Shibir members detained with petrol bombs in Sirajganj

September 22nd, 2018

Having received a tip-off, police detained the suspects having found them in front of the Chhongachha Madhyapara Sarkarbari Jame Masjid in the Sadar upazila on Friday

Five people suspected of planning acts of sabotage have been taken into custody in Sirajganj.  Six petrol bombs were found in their possession.

Having received a tip-off, police detained the suspects having found them in front of the Chhongachha Madhyapara Sarkarbari Jame Masjid in the Sadar upazila on Friday afternoon, confirmed Sadar police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Md Daud.

Daud also said the group underwent primary interrogation on Friday night, where they confessed to planning acts of vandalism and sabotage. They were sent to the court on Saturday afternoon.

The five suspects are Hafizul Islam, 22, Nasir Uddin, 19, Obaidul Haque Naim, 16, Shobuj Islam, 19, and Mehedi Hasan, 19.

Full report at:

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2018/09/22/5-shibir-members-detained-with-petrol-bombs-in-sirajganj

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Afghanistan condemns deadly attack on military parade in Iran

Sep 23 2018

The Afghan government strongly condemned the deadly attack by gunmen on a military parade in Ahwav city of Iran that left scores of people dead or wounded.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said the Afghan government and nation have been the victims of terrorism for many years and the brave Afghan forces are still in the frontline of the fight against terrorism.

The statement further added that the menace of terrorism in the regional and international level, is a clear issue, emphasizing that the nations must jointly fight the menace terrorism without any distinction.

ARG Palace in its statement also added that the Afghan government believes that terrorism recognizes no borders and is the enemy of the whole humanity.

According to ARG Palace, the terrorists are targeting the residents of all countries in all places and the time has come that a consensus should be established to honestly fight the menace of terrorism.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-condemns-deadly-attack-on-military-parade-in-iran-06009/

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26 ISIS militants arrested in Kabul city for planning attacks during Ashura Day

Sep 18 2018

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), says a group of at least 26 ISIS militants have been arrested for planning attacks mourners during the Ashura Day.

A source privy of the development has said the militants have been arrested during separate operations in Kabul city.

The source further added that the leader of the group identified as Abdullah son of Sultan Shah has also been arrested by the NDS forces.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group have not commented in this regard so far.

This comes as ISIS militants have carried out numerous attacks in capital Kabul during the recent months, particularly targeting the civilian targets in West of Kabul city.

At least 26 people were killed and more than 90 others were wounded in a coordinated suicide attack and car bomb explosion near a wrestling club in Dasht Barchi area of Kabul city nearly two weeks ago.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/26-isis-militants-arrested-in-kabul-city-for-planning-attacks-during-ashura-day-05984/

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No Chinese debt-trap, India is oldest ally but Maldives open for businesses, says President Yameen on the eve of polls

by Arun Janardhanan

September 23, 2018

Presenting himself as a nationalist with a focus on economic development and listing out a number of big ticket infrastructure projects mostly funded by China, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen is seeking a second term as Maldives will vote for the next president on Sunday. Opposition counters his claims of development with serious charges of his ‘authoritarian regime’ that imprisoned or forced to flee almost all the top opposition leaders and even Supreme Court judges in the last two years.

In his first ever interview with an international media, Yameen spoke to The Indian Express about the charges against his regime, Chinese debt trap and the ‘India First’ policy.

You have been in power for five years and the Maldives have been witness to significant changes. Yet these five years have also seen political turmoil. What message or assurance do you have for the people of the Maldives, and the world?

The transformational changes that the Maldives has witnessed in the past five years far outweighs any political turmoil. True, the past five years has been challenging but we are capable of resolving our domestic affairs among ourselves. International partners must respect our right to self-determination, a founding principle of the charter of the UN.

My administration is committed to having free, fair and transparent elections, as has been the tradition since the 2008 Constitution came to force. If elected, my administration is further committed to fulfilling our vision of an independent and progressive Maldives.

Which do you think are the significant measures your government ushered in? And what do you think remains to be done?

We have made significant investments in order to ensure sustained socio-economic growth. The bridge linking Velana International Airport (VIA) and Hulhulmalé to Malé will introduce much needed synergy for the Greater Malé area to prosper. The development of VIA to cater to upwards of 5 million visitors a year, complimented with the development of regional airports and seaplane hubs, is going to bring transformational growth, and allow all corners of the Maldives equitable access, to tourism and related businesses – the integrated tourism project mere minutes away from the airport and additional resorts and guesthouses will further ensure the industry is ready to cater to the huge influx and such projects also increase jobs and opportunity for our young women and men; our driven youth population.

Across the nation we have delivered clean water to more than half of the population, we have delivered sewerage services to over three fourths of the population and we have built over two dozen airports – over the past administrations we have been lagging behind but these are the expectations, and the developments, that my administration has delivered within these last five years. We have spent MVR 90 billion across the country towards this achievement; towards improving the lives of Maldivians and towards building national infrastructure whereby delivering lasting, meaningful and sustainable change.

Your government has cracked down on political rivals, even detained judges. This has led to criticism in different parts of the world. How do you counter the charge of high-handedness?

Justice is blind and my administration upholds this principle. There is no one charged, detained or sentence outside of the procedures outlined in our Constitution, Laws and Regulations. Legal and judicial procedures have been followed in every case and the rights guaranteed in our laws have been upheld. Despite criticism, my administration will not falter in upholding the rule of law, regardless of who, why or when.

After the 2013 elections which brought you to power, your political rivals, especially former President Nasheed, complained that the polls were not fair. What assurances can you provide on the transparency of the election process?

Every election since the 2008 Constitution has been observed and monitored by local and international partners, who have declared those elections as free, fair and transparent. In 2013, I believe the former President did in fact concede defeat and all legal remedies available were exhausted. The world accepted the election as free and fair.

I have no reason to believe that this election will be any exception.

We have had two elections after the Presidential elections of 2013. During the Parliamentary elections seats were fairly well distributed between all parties but in the Council elections the opposition came out in quite a favorable position.

I am confident in our state institutions, their independence and capacity to ensure credible elections.

What is your response to critics and political rivals who claim that the country is staring at a debt-trap?

The Maldives is a small state but some observers take that also to mean that we do not have the capacity to evaluate or decide. The Maldives is home to one of the most well educated and literate populations in the region, if not globally.

What I am saying is that we have done our homework. We have exceptional minds who have excelled at their academic endeavors in the best western and regional educational institutions who also have the added insight and advantage of “on the ground” observation – they are well aware of global best practices and local trends and needs. I myself am fortunate enough to have had the same, if not similar, academic and practical exposure.

We know our position.

We are not staring at a debt-trap – even the most modest estimates based on arrival growth alone should make this abundantly clear and the positive ratings by two independent global agencies speak to this. Add to this the rising profits, and increased performance potential, of our companies due to a vibrant economy and new, and incoming, investments; we have full confidence that we will be able to leverage our debt to bring even more progress and prosperity to our people.

Which are the economic challenges you intend to address on priority if you were to return to power?

As illustrated in my party’s Manifesto, housing is a priority. I have pledged to ensure that all youth will have adequate housing by 2030. Housing is at the core of many socio-economic issues and I believe that adequate housing is the important first step towards economic stability.

The Maldives are a popular tourist destination and tourism is key to its economy. The political upheavals have prompted some countries to issue travel advisories cautioning their citizens. Has that impacted the Maldives? What would be your message to them?

Certainly political developments in the country does have an impact on our tourism. However, the experience has always been that political unrest is localized to the Capital or other major cities across the nation. Tourist resorts are largely unaffected and life goes on as normal. It must be noted that even the state of emergency that was precipitated by a constitutional crisis, went on peacefully. Apart from the travel advisories that are automatically triggered as a result of a state of emergency in effect, our schools, roads and beaches were open. Life went on, as usual.

There is concern in India that ties with the Maldives are under strain. Many suspect that this has to do with you government’s growing ties with China, thereby threatening Indian geopolitical, security interests. How do you address this worry in India?

India is historically, our oldest ally. The Maldives has always had an India first policy. That being said, Maldives is open for business, especially during this time of unprecedented economic growth.

How do you intend to expand ties with India? And China?

The Maldives is now at a place where we have to surge forward towards development and economic growth and as such we are ready to foster economic, and bi-lateral ties with all nations willing to be our partners in progress.

There is concern in several quarters over what they believe has been the rise of Muslim hardliners in the Maldives in recent years. How do you respond to this?

The rise of religious fanaticism is an issue that plagues all nations. I am confident that social inclusiveness and economic stability is the key to addressing this issue. These are priorities of my administration. In the meantime, we are constantly working with our international partners, through resource and information sharing, to curb radicalization and extremist thought.

Sourcing and building a strong local network of professionals and skilled workers, strengthening health tourism and providing shelter were among your priorities. How much of a headway has your government made?

The government funded 25 storey multi specialist Dharumavantha Hospital will come online later this year and long with that we will begin internships for fresh medical graduates laying the foundations of the first medial university program locally. While already we have several specialist facilities for kidney diseases, heart diseases, respiratory diseases, and more.

Our approach towards encouraging investments and our policies within the health sector has also seen the development of the first multi-specialist private hospital in our smart city Hulhumalé which is currently in operation and they have been ramping up services throughout the year.

Have the Maldives made progress on gender equality? Where do women professionals, leaders and workers stand?

One of the pledges of my administration was to ensure that 20% of all government boards and state companies, are held by women. This has been achieved. I have further pledged to increase this number to 50% in the next 5 years.

I have also ratified the Gender Equality Act which have steps towards prevention of discrimination based on gender.

Interestingly, as health professionals, teachers and lawyers, women currently contribute more and outnumber men in these key service sectors – this is true even in the civil service.

In terms of access to education girls have the same opportunity as boys and consistently outperform them – I am proud to say the Maldives maintains a 99% literacy rate. Our Police has the highest percentage of women on the force when compared to the entire region.

The wellbeing of, and opportunity for, women and children are one of my highest priorities and we plan to introduce a specialized hospital for them. Already we have facilitated for mothers to work from home.

Which world leader/s do you count as your role model? Tell us about your love for football, interaction with youth, and the books you read.

Lee Kuan Yew has been across the board, for me personally, the most inspirational world leader. His vision of what a small state could achieve is what grounds me in my reality that the Maldives can far exceed expectations others may have of our nation.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/maldives-polls-president-abdulla-yameen-interview-chinese-debt-trap-india-oldest-ally-businesses-5370202/

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Tribesmen offer condolences to families of 70 victims of Afghanistan suicide blast

SEPTEMBER 23, 2018

Tribesmen on Saturday organised a memorial gathering in the honour of 70 Shinwari tribesmen who had lost their lives during a demonstration when a suicide bomber exploded himself on Sept 11 near Daka village of Momandara district of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.

Reportedly, a large number of political workers, clerics, Shinwari tribesmen of Landi Kotal subdivision and members of civil society gathered at the house of Gulab Hujra, a tribe elder, and extended their condolences and solidarity to the families of victims.

Meanwhile, they urged the Afghanistan’s government to adopt effective measures for countering terrorism and ensure security of citizens on its soil.

Later, prayers were offered for the peace of the departed souls.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/301291/tribesmen-offer-condolences-to-families-of-70-victims-of-afghanistan-suicide-blast/

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North America


Why Western media silent on Ahvaz terrorist attack

Sep 22, 2018

The mainstream Western media have been mostly silent about the deadly US-sponsored terrorist attack in the Iranian city of Ahvaz, according to US scholar and political analyst Kevin Barrett.

"Innocent people being killed by terrorists is front page news in the West; but, in the case of terrorism against Iran, suddenly, everything changes and the media tends to ignore and downplay it," Barrett told Press TV in an interview on Saturday.

Barrett sees the attack as another terrorist operation launched by the United States and its regional allies.

“There have been close to 20,000 people killed in these kinds of terrorist attacks by extremist groups in Iran over the years to almost the complete silence of the western media and that is because it is the western governments led by the United States and its Israeli master who are in fact organizing, funding, arming, equipping, and unleashing these terrorists against Iran and they have been ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979," Barrett said.

Barrett noted that US President Donald Trump and top officials in his administration like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security adviser John Bolton were behind such state-sponsored terrorist attacks on innocent people.

“Today, we have in power in the United States the Trump administration whose two main Iran advisers -- Bolton and Pompeo --are fanatical anti-Iran haters,” Barrett said.

Barrett said the pair had received huge bribes from the Iranian terrorist opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), known to most other countries by another acronym, MEK.

“These guys bribes are usually called ‘speaking fees’, and Bolton and Pompeo and others will go in front of these terrorist organized events – propaganda exercises – for huge sums of money, to basically paper over MEK’s terrorist past,” Barrett said.

In return, Barrett assumed, the pair helps the terrorists receive funds to launch anti-Iran operations. “We can assume that the pair is helping their friends by upping the level of US support for them,” he said.

Barrett said direct support of terrorists groups like the MEK and state-sponsored terrorism was doing the US no good.

Barrett concluded that US-sponsored terrorist attacks were going to be counterproductive in the long run because “terrorism doesn’t work ... Iranian people are not going to stand it. People like Bolton and Pompeo may have failed to learn that lesson and they will be learning it in the future. “

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574920/Why-Western-media-silent-on-Ahvaz-terrorist-attack

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Stafford's dispute with Muslim organization heats up amid DOJ investigation

Sep 23, 2018

Stafford County's longstanding relationship with the All Muslim Association of America predictably soured after county leaders effectively blocked the organization's proposed cemetery.

The Muslim nonprofit lobbed accusations of religious discrimination, leading to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation that could turn into a lawsuit against the county. But Stafford once enjoyed a good relationship with the AMAA—maybe too good, according to Supervisor Wendy Maurer.

At a public meeting Tuesday, Maurer said she thinks the AMAA benefited from political favoritism when the county bought a large swath of land from the nonprofit for more than $600,000 in 2017. That 76-acre property on Brooke Road abuts the organization's existing cemetery—which the county approved in 1995—but Planning Director Jeff Harvey said the AMAA determined it would be “cost prohibitive” to expand the cemetery there because of slopes and wetlands.

The county bought the land and an adjacent tract owned by someone else with the stated goals of saving forests and wetlands near Crow's Nest Natural Area Preserve and providing a buffer for a nearby 70-acre heron rookery.

Maurer, whose Rock Hill District includes the proposed cemetery on Garrisonville Road that caused the dispute, said in an interview that she highlighted the purchase to show that Stafford's history with the organization is not one of discrimination.

“The moment you don’t get your way, now all of sudden we're discriminatory," she said, calling the accusation disingenuous. "Honestly, I took great offense to it.”

The county's past dealings with the AMAA will likely have no bearing on the DOJ's investigation of a nearly 2-year-old ordinance that critics say was designed solely to block the proposed Muslim cemetery on 1508 Garrisonville Road. In fact, supervisors' divided vote Tuesday to maintain the ordinance rather than relax it could add fuel to the fire.

Still, Maurer's explosive remarks offered a different perspective on the county's dealings with the AMAA.

She took particular aim at former Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul Milde, suggesting that he orchestrated the sale of AMAA's land as a political favor to the nonprofit's members who donated to or supported his campaign. The organization unsuccessfully tried to market the property to private buyers, Maurer said.

Milde, who voluntarily stepped down at the end of 2017, strongly denied the allegation, writing in an email that Maurer’s “lame attempt to smear me is intended to distract from her pursuit of a discriminatory policy that is placing the county in legal peril.”  Supervisors unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance in December 2016, but Milde said he was unaware of its effect on the cemetery at the time.

Attorney Clark Leming, who represents the AMAA, said county employees, not Milde, approached the organization about buying the land. AMAA could have expanded its cemetery on a portion of that land had the county not made the offer, he said.

The organization bought its proposed cemetery site on Garrisonville Road for $800,000 in 2015, about 18 months before the county passed its disputed ordinance prohibiting new cemeteries within 900 feet of private wells, reservoirs and streams that drain into reservoirs. The Virginia Department of Health's more relaxed standards say new wells should not be within 100 feet of cemeteries, though the state does require a distance of 900 feet between cemeteries and public water supplies.

Emails show that concerns the Muslim cemetery would contaminate nearby wells influenced the setback, but that issue never came up during public meetings at the time.

Those discussions occurred around the same time the county negotiated the purchase of the AMAA's land.

Supervisors voted unanimously in October 2016 to buy the site for $650,000, about $41,800 more than its assessed value.  In the same vote, they also agreed to pay $175,000 to another landowner for a 46-acre tract near Crow's Nest with a taxable value of $377,000.

A county spokesman said the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust, which owns the nearby heron rookery, took an interest in the property first and negotiated the sale prices before the county got involved. Milde also said the NVCT pitched the idea to the county and that he was not initially part of the discussions.

The county received a $433,000 grant toward the land purchases from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation, an organization Milde belonged to. A $400,000 donation to Stafford's conservation program also helped cover the cost. A stipulation of that donation, made by a developer in exchange for the county's approval of a 75-home subdivision, was that the money be used to preserve land in the Aquia District. A county report said Stafford employees worked with Milde, who represented the Aquia District, to "identify viable properties for land conservation."

Milde, who has been a proponent of protecting Crow's Nest for years, said at a meeting two years ago that the purchases "didn't cost us anything, really, on a county level." 

Stafford did end up paying half of the $11,259 cost to clean up a dump site on the Muslim nonprofit's property, subtracting the balance from the purchase price. Maurer said the county is supposed to cite landowners for dump sites, not pay to clear them, under an ordinance. And she noted that municipal employees typically avoid working on private property for liability reasons.

“So we didn’t cite them; we didn’t discriminate against them religiously,” Maurer said at the meeting. “Actually, they were given special consideration because we didn’t apply our Stafford County ordinance.”

She implied that Milde played a role in the cleanup, which was coordinated by employees of the Rappahannock Regional Landfill. Milde was a member last year of the Rappahannock Regional Solid Waste Management Board, but he said in an email that neither he nor his colleagues on the R-Board authorized or discussed the trash cleanup.

Maurer also claimed that AMAA reps offered to raise money for her campaign in a meeting last year to discuss the proposed cemetery. She said the organization did not explicitly make the offer in exchange for her support of its cemetery, but that the inference concerned her.

In addition, she alleged that AMAA officials told her "Milde got Stafford County to buy our land.” That statement, Maurer said, caused her to look into what she now considers a questionable deal. She said she voted in favor of the purchase because "I was under the assumption that all was well and good—that this wasn’t a special deal."

In a May 2017 email before Maurer's meetup with the Muslim group, Milde offered to join her and described AMAA board member Rafi Ahmed—who requested the meeting—as a "good citizen and supporter of mine."  Online records show no donations from Ahmed to Milde, though Ahmed has attended an annual fundraiser put on by the former supervisor.  Ahmed did not immediately respond to a call from The Free Lance–Star for comment.

Milde did receive a $1,000 donation in 2012 from a Mossadaq Chughtai, who listed his employer as the Pakistani American Leadership Center. He is also the AMAA's president, according to the organization's website. He got another $250 donation that year from Muhammad Tarar, who listed the AMAA as his employer.

Milde, who will seek the Republican nomination next year for the 28th District House of Delegates seat, said in an email that he's never received a donation from an organization called the AMAA and that he does not ask his donors about their religious affiliations. He called Maurer's claims "false and baseless."

"For the sake of Stafford taxpayers, she needs to reacquaint herself with the U.S. Constitution and current protections for religious institutions in federal law," Milde wrote in an email.

The AMAA made a conflict-of-interest complaint of its own last year against Planning Commissioner Crystal Vanuch, who lives across the street from the organization's proposed cemetery. Commonwealth's Attorney Eric Olsen found that Vanuch did not have a conflict under state law, though she did recuse herself from the Planning Commission's vote several months ago to recommend keeping the cemetery ordinance.

Vanuch took an active role in proposing the changes and even made a presentation on the topic to the Board of Supervisors nearly two years ago.  During that presentation, she did not mention the proposed Muslim cemetery as being one of the reasons for the new ordinance.

Supervisor Jack Cavalier, who voted Tuesday against retaining the ordinance, said Vanuch's briefing was "totally out of normal order."

Full report at:

https://www.fredericksburg.com/stafford-s-dispute-with-muslim-organization-heats-up-amid-doj/article_b9b282cb-cebc-5ce1-8df9-51fc7f78369c.html

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Pompeo threatens Iran with action if US interests attacked

Sep 22, 2018

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has threatened to take action against Iran in case of any attack on American interests in the Middle East.

In an  interview with the CNN on Friday, Pompano warned that Washington would hold Tehran responsible for any attack on its interests in the region.

"We have told the Islamic Republic of Iran that using a proxy force to attack an American interest will not prevent us from responding against the prime actor," he said. "We will not let Iran get away with using a proxy force to attack an American interest; Iran will be held accountable for those incidents."

Asked if the US response included a military action, Pompeo said, "They're going to be held accountable. If they’re responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we’re gonna go to the source.”

Both the US embassy in Baghdad and its consulate in Basra came under attack earlier this month amid a fresh wave of violence in Iraq.

The Iranian consulate and the provincial office of Iraq's Hashd al-Sha’abi were also gutted in the rampage.

At the time, the White House blamed Iran for the “life-threatening attacks” against its diplomatic missions in Iraq and warned that Washington would hold Tehran responsible if there are future assaults.

This drew a reaction from Iran's Foreign Ministry which rejected what it described as “astonishing, provocative and irresponsible accusations," stressing that Washington could not cover up its involvement in fomenting tensions in Iraq through blaming others.

Meanwhile, several Iraqi officials confirmed that the US had instigated the chaos in Iraq in a bid to sow discord among political parties.

Elsewhere in his interview, Pompeo claimed that Iran had been "confronting the world" by "arming" Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement and Yemen's Ansarullah Houthi fighters.

The US administration, under President Donald Trump, has stepped up its hostile rhetoric against Iran.

Back in May, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the 2015 Iran deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite objections from the other signatories to the accord.

Trump also introduced the first wave of anti-Iran sanctions in August and threatened that the second wave would “ratchet up to yet another level” in November.

'US endangers int'l security'

Separately on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif lambasted the Trump administration for being a “real threat” to the Middle East and global “peace and security,” saying the White House is destabilizing the world.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574864/Iran-Mike-Pompeo-Iraq

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US supports terrorists, yet Iran gets the blame

Sep 22, 2018

The US State Department’s annual Country Reports on Terrorism for 2017 is out. The report has been strongly denounced by critics as highly politicized and contradictory.

The annual report says terrorist attacks declined in 2017 largely because the Daesh terrorist group suffered major defeats in many countries like Iraq and Syria.

But the US government report ironically describes Iran as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.

It’s no secret that Iran helped roll back Daesh advances in Iraq and Syria by supporting anti-terror efforts in those countries.  It was for the same success that Syria and Iraq openly thanked Iran for its efforts to root out terrorism.

Critics of the US foreign policy say the state Department’s annual survey lacks credibility since it is not based on facts and falls in line with America’s anti-Iran campaign.

Brecht Jonkers, a journalist at al-Masdar news agency told Press TV that it was hypocritical of the US to accuse Iran of sponsoring terrorism.

“The US speaks with a very hypocritical attitude. It should not very surprising that there’s a major hypocrisy when the United States has the audacity to accuse Iran of being main sponsor of terrorism in the world.”  

The report comes as the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump is trying to pile pressure on Iranians.

“The US speaks with a very hypocritical attitude. It should not be very surprising that there’s a major hypocrisy when the United States has the audacity to accuse Iran of being the main sponsor of terrorism in the world.”  

The report comes as the administration of US President Donald Trump is trying to pile pressure on Iranians.

The US which withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in May wants to force the country to come to the negotiating table again but Tehran says it cannot trust the Americans.

The US State Department’s latest survey makes no mention of notorious names that come to mind whenever the issue of global terrorism is raised.

Saudi Arabia is perhaps the most prominent case in point. The kingdom’s support for extremist groups in the region and beyond is an open secret.

For instance, there are numerous reports that show the Saudis have cut deals with terror groups in Yemen in a bid to defeat Yemeni fighters.

Saudi Arabia and some of its regional allies are widely believed to have been the main sponsors of terror groups over the course of war in Syria.

But they never even get a slap on the wrist. The United States itself has long used extremist factions in many countries to advance its interests.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/09/22/574852/US-terrorism-Iran-saudi

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Africa

 

Nigerian military accuses journalists of working for Boko Haram

September 21, 2018

The Nigerian military has accused “some journalists” of working for the terror group, Boko Haram, after reports showed security forces had suffered heavy losses in recent months.

In an apparent targeting of the media, the military said it was “known that some journalists work for Boko Haram and fraternise with terrorist commanders”. The military provided no evidence backing its claim.

Its statement on Thursday came amid reports showing the army has lately faced a string of heavy losses, with over a hundred soldiers killed by Boko Haram.

In July, PREMIUM TIMES reported that no fewer than 23 Nigerian soldiers went missing after insurgents ambushed a military convoy at Boboshe village in Bama local government area of Borno State. Five officers, 18 soldiers and eight trucks were missing after the attack.

More attacks have occured since then with at least 31 soldiers killed in a September onslaught, military sources told PREMIUM TIMES.

Reuters also reported this week the deaths of soldiers. It appears the military statement was in response to the report.

John Agim, the military spokesperson, said the statement that the “campaign” was spearheaded by a “particular foreign news agency”.

Mr Agim denied soldiers had been killed. He said the report “was calculated to dampen the spirit of the troops at the theatres of operation and to demean the successes recorded so far in the war against terrorism”.

“It is more worrisome when such an ill-informed report is coming from a supposed credible news agency expected to be a partner in progress. It agitates the mind whether the reporter is working in isolation or speaking the mind of its sponsors,” the statement said.

“It is a well-known fact that terrorism thrives on publicity and propaganda. It is also known that some journalists work for Boko Haram and fraternise with terrorist commanders against the standing forces to whip up sentiment,” he said.

The military said at the peak of Boko Haram insurgency, “the armed forces with limited weapons chased Boko Haram out of Abuja and other cities into Sambisa forest”.

“How much more now that the military is well equipped with determined troops to take on any terrorist group, be it Boko Haram or Islamic State In West Africa,” he quipped. “If this is still seen as ‘struggling’ by the purveyors of the false reports, then the word may have assumed a new meaning,” he said.

He said the strategy of drawing out the enemy had been a great success as hundreds of terrorists had been killed in their desperate attempts to recapture some cities in the North-east.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/284899-nigerian-military-accuses-journalists-of-working-for-boko-haram.html

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US airstrike kills 18 Al-Shabab after US attacked in Somalia

September 22, 2018

JOHANNESBURG: A US military airstrike has killed 18 Al-Shabab extremists after US and local forces on the ground came under attack in southern Somalia, the US Africa Command said Saturday.

No US or Somali forces were killed or injured in the attack, an AFRICOM spokesman, Nate Herring, told The Associated Press. The airstrike was carried out Friday in self-defense after extremists were “observed maneuvering on a combined patrol,” while the US also responded with “indirect fire,” the spokesman said.

The confrontation occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the port city of Kismayo, the US Africa Command statement said. Two other Al-Shabab extremists were killed by Somali forces “with small arms fire during the engagement,” it said.

The operation was Somali-led, the AFRICOM spokesman said. There was no immediate comment from Somali authorities.

The US has carried out more than 20 airstrikes this year against the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa.

US military involvement in Somalia has grown since President Donald Trump early in his term approved expanded operations against Al-Shabab. Dozens of drone strikes followed. Late last year the military also carried out its first airstrike against a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State in northern Somalia.

Since the expanded operations, two US military personnel have been killed in Somalia.

A service member was killed in May 2017 during an operation about 40 miles (64 kilometers) west of Mogadishu. And in June, one US special operations soldier was killed and four US service members wounded in an “enemy attack” as troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland.

The US currently has about 500 military personnel in the Horn of Africa nation.

Al-Shabab, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Somalia, was pushed out of Mogadishu in recent years but continues to control rural areas in the south and central regions. Its fighters continue to attack the bases of a multinational African Union force that remains largely responsible for security as Somalia’s fragile central government tries to recover from decades of chaos.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1376176/world

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Libya urges ‘effective’ UN action to end Tripoli violence

22 September 2018

Libya’s internationally recognized government has called on the UN to take “concrete and effective” action to protect civilians and halt fighting near the capital that has killed more than 100 people since late August.

In a statement late Friday, the Government of National Accord (GNA) called on the UN mission to “present the Security Council with the reality of the bloody events in Libya so that it can... protect the lives and property of civilians”.

Fighting slowed Saturday morning a day after clashes left 15 dead and dozens more wounded, according to health ministry spokeswoman Wedad Abu al-Niran.

The latest casualties brought the death toll to more than 100 since clashes erupted on the capital’s southern outskirts on August 26, according to the GNA body that deals with the wounded.

The Libyan capital has been at the center of a battle for influence between armed groups since dictator Moamer Kadhafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising in 2011.

Despite a ceasefire deal reached on September 4, renewed fighting erupted this week, especially in the Salaheddin neighbourhood and on the road to Tripoli’s disused international airport, which was destroyed in 2014.

The feuding militias come mostly from Libya’s third city Misrata and the town of Tarhouna southeast of the capital.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was “alarmed by the increasing number of violations of the ceasefire agreement”, his spokesman said on Friday.

Guterres called on the militias to respect the truce and to “refrain from any actions that would increase the suffering of the civilian population”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2018/09/22/Libya-urges-effective-UN-action-to-end-Tripoli-violence.html

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Cholera outbreak in Nigeria claims nearly 100 lives

September 22, 2018

LAGOS: A cholera outbreak in north-eastern Nigeria has claimed nearly 100 lives over the past two weeks, the United Nations said Saturday.

More than 3,000 cholera cases have been recorded in the states of Yobe and Borno in a region that is also grappling with a Boko Haram insurgency, it said.

"The cumulative number of recorded cases in both states currently stands at 3,126 including 97 deaths," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

The outbreak was declared two weeks ago in restive Borno, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people live in camps.

Boko Haram has intensified attacks, especially against military targets in recent months.

On Wednesday, the UN reported that more than 500 people had died from cholera in the Lake Chad region since the start of the year, representing the worst outbreak to hit the area in four years.

It said more than six million people could be affected by the outbreak without urgent action to control it.

Expected floods and heavy rains were "an ideal environment for the outbreak to spread", OCHA warned.

The Lake Chad region straddles parts of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, which are also having to deal with an extremist insurgency.

OCHA said Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, was the worst-hit with 24,000 cases overall, and said immediate action was needed to stem the disease.

Cholera is caused by a bacterium transmitted through contaminated food or drinking water. It causes acute diarrhoea, with children particularly at risk.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1376011/world

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