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Islamic World News (07 Apr 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Pope Blames Europe, US for Selling Weapons in War Zones








Pope Blames Europe, US for Selling Weapons in War Zones

US Map Of Palestine Just an Israeli Illusion: Hamas

US Envoy to Syria: ‘We Have Not Said That the ISIS Story Has Ended’

Backing Dr M Instead Of Anwar More Beneficial For Islam, PAS Spiritual Leader Says

Large-Scale Operation Concluded In Nangarhar Province, 70 ISIS-K Militants Killed

Libya’s Haftar Forces Close in on Tripoli, Capture Former International Airport

 

Europe

Pope Blames Europe, US for Selling Weapons in War Zones

France’s says G7 mostly agreed except on Iran, Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pope: US, Europe causing deaths in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan

Russian foreign minister slams Israel’s 'inadmissible' shelling of Syria

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Mideast

US Map Of Palestine Just an Israeli Illusion: Hamas

Netanyahu Pledges to Annex West Bank Settlements after Vote

Iran’s Khamenei Urges Iraq to Ensure US Troops Leave “As Soon As Possible”

Ready to expand gas, trade, says Iran’s Rouhani after meeting Iraqi PM

Palestinian prisoners to begin mass hunger strike to protest jail condition, mistreatment

Israeli settler runs over, injures Palestinian teenage boy in West Bank

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North America

US Envoy to Syria: ‘We Have Not Said That the ISIS Story Has Ended’

CAIR Warns Of Increasing Islamophobia after New York Arrests

Iran to Blacklist US Military If Washington Designates Guards As Terrorists

Ilhan Omar 'doesn't like Israel': Trump

US military admits to killing civilians in Somali airstrikes

Man charged with threatening to kill Muslim US lawmaker

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Southeast Asia

Backing Dr M Instead Of Anwar More Beneficial For Islam, PAS Spiritual Leader Says

Malaysian government criticized for International Criminal Court U-turn

Report: For Pakatan, Anwar’s succession and tackling political Islam a top priority

How social media inspired Indonesia’s born-again ‘Hijrah’ Muslim millennials

Religion, human rights shape race in eastern Indonesia

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South Asia

Large-Scale Operation Concluded In Nangarhar Province, 70 ISIS-K Militants Killed

Bangladeshi IS recruiters among eight charged

Myanmar ‘crazy drug’ tops agenda at border talks with Bangladesh

Haqqani network militants among 15 killed in latest air, ground operations

Afghan armed force storm Taliban headquarters in Faryab province

Double blast kills three people, injures 19 in east Afghanistan

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Africa

Libya’s Haftar Forces Close in on Tripoli, Capture Former International Airport

Libya: 14 Soldiers Loyal To Khalifa Haftar Killed

Sudanese protesters enter army headquarters

Libya talks to go ahead despite new fighting: UN envoy

Civilian killed as Sudanese protesters clash with security forces

Haftar forces announce no-fly zone after being targeted by air strike

Russia warns against foreign meddling in Libya

Libya’s Haftar forces targeted by airstrike as they march for capital Tripoli

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India

Pakistan Not Interested In Eliminating Terrorism: Defence Minister

Two Hizbul militants killed in gun battle in J-K’s Shopian

Mumbai: Muslim Religious Leaders Call for Votes For Secular Parties

Terrorists kill Kashmiri soldier on leave, 3rd since June last year

NIA arrests JeM operative for 2017 terror attack on CRPF camp

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Pakistan

Youth Played Role In Success Of War Against Terror: COAS

Terrorist behind Daesh network held in Abbottabad

Khalilzad thanks Pakistan for supporting Afghan peace process

Marriyum accuses NAB of ‘state terrorism’

Fawad regrets ‘decades wasted’ to muzzle extremism

Pakistan, KSA making efforts to portray true image of Islam: Fawad

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Arab World

Hundreds of US-Backed SDF Fighters Join Syrian Army in Hasaka

US Army Sends New Military Convoy to SDF-Controlled Areas in Eastern Euphrates

Turkish Army, Kurdish Forces Resume Clashes in Aleppo

Syrian Army Pounds, Destroys Terrorists' Positions in Hama

UK, US and France Pushed Militants for Chemical Attacks In Syria: Official

US-led coalition says allies foil Daesh prison break

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/pope-blames-europe,-us-for-selling-weapons-in-war-zones/d/118250

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Pope blames Europe, US for selling weapons in war zones

6 April 2019

Pope Francis has blamed Europe and the United States for selling weapons in war zones, fueling conflicts and causing victims in Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Speaking to students and teachers of Milan’s San Carlo Institute on Saturday, the pope said that the reason why there are so many wars around the world is that “the rich Europe and America sell weapons ... used to kill children and kill people.”

Francis also added that, without weapons, countries like Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan wouldn’t be at war.

The pontiff said that “a country that produces and sells weapons has on its conscience the death of every child and the destruction of each family. It’s us that make a difference.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/06/Pope-blames-Europe-US-for-selling-weapons-in-war-zones.html

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US map of Palestine just an Israeli illusion: Hamas

Apr 7, 2019

The Hamas resistance movement says the purported map of Palestine drawn up by the US President Donald Trump’s administration under the so-called “deal of the century” only represents an “illusion” long chased by Israel.

“The new proposed map of Palestine as part of the Trump’s deal of the century, no matter if true or not, is just an illusion the Israeli occupation has been chasing. The map of historical Palestine is in our hearts and the next generation will inherit it with their genes,” Hamas Political Bureau member Husam Badran said on Saturday.

He also stressed the Palestinian people’s right to return to their hometowns, from which they have been forced since 1948, saying that they would defend their lands despite challenges.

Details of ‘deal’ emerge

The reaction by Badran came after a report offered purported new details of Trump’s “deal.”

Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Akhbar daily reported on Friday that the so-called “deal of the century” would see Trump pushing for Jordan to absorb one million Palestinian refugees in exchange for 45 billion dollars in financial aid.

Granting citizenship to Palestinians would happen in stages, with the largest number of refugees to be taken in at one time standing at 300,000, the report said, adding that the Gazans living in Jordan would also be included in the process.

Trump would also ask Egypt to grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees and receive 65 billion dollars, according to the report.

He would further propose that Lebanon absorb a portion of its Palestinian refugee population.

The report also said that the US plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict proposed forming a tripartite confederation between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority for specific and limited purposes.

But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already rejected the peace plan because it is said to be hugely in favor of the Israeli regime.

‘Jordanian king opposed to confederation’

The report said Jordan’s King Abdullah II had expressed opposition to the establishment of a joint confederation and told Egyptian leaders that he preferred Amman to remain in charge of the holy sites in Jerusalem al-Quds “without interfering in the details between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The deal would additionally include giving Jordan’s Naharayim and Tzofar areas — which are currently leased to the Israeli regime — to Tel Aviv. In return, Jordan would receive land from Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, the Emirati news website al-Khaleej Online reported that the Trump administration was likely to unveil its “deal” on the 71st anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), in mid-May.

In a leaky White House, very few details of the “deal” have emerged so far. Back in January, Israeli Channel 13 TV reported that the initiative endorsed the Israeli grip over parts of East Jerusalem al-Quds as well as the Holy Basin and stipulated various land swaps and Israel’s annexation of areas with major settlement blocs.

Those few details have nevertheless been rejected in their totality by Palestinians.

New settler units

Separately on Saturday, the so-called Israeli Higher Planning Committee approved the construction of 770 new units in the Beitar Illit settlement, west of the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

The Israeli regime’s traditionally close relationship with the US has grown stronger under Trump. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used flattery — more than once — and has copied Trump’s demagogic tactics to appeal to a US president obsessed about his self-image.

That has served well to elicit support. Trump has called Jerusalem al-Quds Israel’s “capital,” moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city, and recognized Israeli “sovereignty” over Syria’s Golan Heights, all of them in contravention of international law.

Emboldened by Trump’s all-out backing, Israel has stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied lands in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.

At least 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of the Palestinian lands.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/07/592781/Hamas-map-of-Palestine-deal-of-century-illusion-Israel

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US envoy to Syria: ‘We have not said that the ISIS story has ended’

6 April 2019

Joel Rayburn, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Envoy for Syria, US Department of State, speaking about the ISIS in Syria said: “We have said that the US-led coalition… had been successful in destroying the physical caliphate of Daesh (ISIS).”

Rayburn added: “But we haven’t said that that’s the end of the story with respect to Daesh (ISIS). There has to be a stabilization phase for the territories that have been liberated from ISIS.”

“This conflict has to be solved politically, there is no military solution that’s coming.”

Rayburn was speaking during a panel discussion moderated by Al Arabiya’s Rima Maktabi at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), which kicked off Saturday in Jordan’s Dead Sea region.

Others on the panel included Seyed Salih Al-Hakim, Director, Al-Kalima Center for Dialogue and Cooperation; Leena Al Olaimy, Co-Founder and Managing Director, 3 BL Associates; Ghassan Hasbani, Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon; and Alain Bejjani, CEO, Majid Al Futtaim Holding.

“It’s for the Syrian people to decide their own leadership, their own government,” Rayburn said during the session. “The Assad regime has got to stop its hostile behavior … What the Assad regime and its patrons appear to want is having been the main factor in the destruction of Syria, they would like for the rest of the international community to fund the rebuilding of what they had destroyed,” he added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/06/US-diplomat-We-have-not-said-that-the-ISIS-story-has-ended-.html

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Backing Dr M instead of Anwar more beneficial for Islam, PAS spiritual leader says

07 April 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 ― PAS believes that supporting Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad instead of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be more beneficial for Islam and Muslims.

PAS spiritual leader Datuk Hashim Jasin said to date, Dr Mahathir was more willing and prepared to take action for the sake of religion and country, citing the recent Cabinet’s reversal of its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Until today, approaching Mahathir is more favourable to Islam than Anwar, and like the decision on the Rome Statute’s withdrawal, PAS welcomes when something is done for the sake of Islam,” he was quoted by local Malay-daily Sinar Harian in Kota Baru yesterday.

He added that despite the political difference, PAS took the stance of supporting whichever decisions that benefited Islam.

“I want to reiterate that as of today the simple formula PAS held onto was to support any shariah-compliant decisions,” he said.

On Friday, Dr Mahathir announced that Putrajaya will pull out of the Rome Statute, while warning that critics of the treaty had wanted to trigger a row between the country’s monarchy and the new government.

Later in his announcement, Dr Mahathir himself conceded that the withdrawal was not because the Cabinet felt negatively about the decision, blaming instead “confusion created by one particular person who wants to be free to beat up people.”

The decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute received backlash from human rights defenders, especially since it came just less than half a year after Putrajaya said it will not ratify anti-racial discrimination convention ICERD following pressure from the Malay-Muslim lobby.

Putrajaya now has until June to withdraw from ratifying the treaty, and Dr Mahathir said it will do so officially by then.

Over 100 countries are party to the ICC, that probes genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression that are committed either in the territory of a state party or by a citizen of a state party.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/04/07/backing-dr-m-instead-of-anwar-more-beneficial-for-islam-pas-spiritual-leade/1740624

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Large-scale operation concluded in Nangarhar province, 70 ISIS-K militants killed

06 Apr 2019

At least seventy militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) have been killed during a large-scale operation which concluded in eastern Nangarhar province.

Informed military sources said Saturday that the operations concluded in Khugyani district today.

The sources further added “A large-scale clearing operation to deny ISIS-K safe haven in Khugyani district of Nangarhar province completed today resulting in 70 ISIS-K fighters killed and a weapons cache destroyed.”

The anti-government armed militants including ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the operation so far.

The security situation in Nangarhar province has deteriorate during the recent years as both Taliban and ISIS loyalists are attempting to expand their foothold and insurgency in this province.

https://www.khaama.com/large-scale-operation-concluded-in-nangarhar-province-70-isis-k-militants-killed-03661/

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Libya’s Haftar Forces Close in on Tripoli, Capture Former International Airport

Apr 6, 2019

Forces loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar say they have advanced into the southern outskirts of the country’s capital city and seized the former Tripoli International Airport in a dangerous escalation.

Ahmed Mismari, a spokesman for Haftar's self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), said the forces were in full control of Tarhouna and Aziziya, two towns near Tripoli, as well as their villages nearby.

"Aziziya is now under our control, the road to Aziziya that reaches Zeltan is also under our control. In addition, Alhira district is under our control as well as Tarhouna," Mismari said.

"This is considered a great achievement and progress towards Tripoli, it means that we are technically inside Tripoli," he added.

Earlier Friday, forces allied to the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), administered by Fayez al-Sarraj, had pushed back Haftar's forces from a key checkpoint less than 30 km  from Tripoli.

Media reports said 145 LNA fighters had been captured in Zawiya, west of the Libyan capital, and 60 vehicles belonging to pro-Haftar forces had also been confiscated.

The recent escalation prompted the UN Security Council to call for an emergency meeting behind closed doors on Friday.

It came as UN chief Antonio Guterres left the chaos-wracked country after meeting Haftar to try to avert civil war.

"I leave Libya with a heavy heart and deeply concerned. I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli," he said on Twitter.

António Guterres

@antonioguterres

 I leave Libya with a heavy heart and deeply concerned. I still hope it is possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli.

The UN is committed to facilitating a political solution and, whatever happens, the UN is committed to supporting the Libyan people.

3,796

8:55 PM - Apr 5, 2019

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Haftar on Thursday announced that his forces would begin an offensive against Tripoli, which is currently controlled by the county’s internationally-recognized government.

The LNA claimed that its advance on the country’s west was meant to root out what it called “terrorist groups” in the restive region.

The United Nations is scheduled to hold a conference later this month in the southwestern Libyan city of Ghadames to discuss a political solution to the conflict and stabilize country.

Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled from power after an uprising and a NATO military intervention.

His ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and the emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

The oil-rich country is now divided between two rival governments — the House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and the government of Sarraj, or the Tripoli-based GNA.

Haftar and the LNA have been backed by certain Arab governments, including the United Arab Emirates and Libya’s neighbor Egypt. Some European governments that once contributed to the NATO military operation to oust Gaddafi have also offered Haftar some diplomatic support.

On Friday, Russia stressed that it had not assisted Haftar's forces in their latest push to take over Tripoli, calling for a political solution to the recent flare-up of tensions in Libya.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592690/Libya-Khalifa-Haftar-Tripoli-International-Airport-Ahmed-Mismari-Libyan-National-Army

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Europe

 

France’s says G7 mostly agreed except on Iran, Israeli-Palestinian conflict

6 April 2019

Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations broadly agreed on issues during a two-day meeting, but were unable to bridge differences on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how to deal with Iran, France’s Foreign Minister said on Saturday.

“Despite the crisp air of Dinard, we couldn’t overcome some of our differences,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said at the end of a two-day meeting in western France.

He added: “I think the talks were constructive and pleasant both in tone and in the fundamentals.”

Le Drian, whose country has been criticised for supporting Libyan eastern commander Khalifa Haftar, said rival factions in Libya needed to hold back and that Haftar should accept a UN-backed peace effort.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/06/France-s-says-G7-mostly-agreed-except-on-Iran-Israeli-Palestinian-issue.html

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Pope: US, Europe causing deaths in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan

Apr 7, 2019

Pope Francis says arms sales by the United States and Europe are to blame for the deaths of people, including children, in such places as Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan.

“The rich Europe and America sell weapons… used to kill children and kill people,” said the pontiff, in unprecedented remarks made while addressing students and teachers at Milan’s San Carlo Institute on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

He said violence-scarred countries like Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan would not be witnessing wars if it was not for the arms.

“A country that produces and sells weapons has on its conscience the death of every child and the destruction of each family,” the Pope said.

The US and major European countries, such as Britain and France, have been selling loads of weapons to Saudi Arabia and its allies, which invaded Yemen in March 2015.

In March, the London-headquartered child rights advocacy group Save the Children reported that as many as 37 Yemeni children are being killed or injured by foreign bombs every month.

Violence engulfed Syria in 2011. The US and its European and regional allies began funding and offering other kinds of support to various militant and terrorist outfits in the Arab country attempting unsuccessfully to topple the Syrian government. Last December, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said more than 21,000 children had died since the country plunged into conflict.

Under the banner of “war on terror,” the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Thousands of civilians have been killed each year since then.

Slamming walls

The Pope also spoke about the need for countries to welcome migrants, rejecting any association between migrant integration and increase in crime rates.

Foreigners are not the source of most crimes, the Pope said, adding “we also have lots of them (asylum seekers)” in Italy.

“The Mafia has not been invented by Nigerians. Mafia is ours,” he said. “All of us have the possibility of being criminal. Migrants bring us wealth because Europe has been made by migrants.”

The remarks were clear jabs at US President Donald Trump, who has banned travelers from several Muslim countries, blamed Mexican migrants for an alleged rise in crime in America, and been attempting to have incoming asylum seekers stopped at the US’s southern border through the building of physical barriers.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/07/592778/Pope-US-Europe-wars-killings-Yemen-Syria-Afghanistan

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Russian foreign minister slams Israel’s 'inadmissible' shelling of Syria

Apr 6, 2019

Russia’s foreign minister has slammed as “inadmissible” Israel’s airstrikes on Syria, underlining the need for respecting the sovereignty of the Arab country.

In an interview with Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper on Saturday, Sergei Lavrov said Moscow’s stance on the inadmissibility of Israeli shelling of Syria’s territory has not changed.

"Our principled stance concerning shelling Syria’s territory has remained unchanged. We have always clearly expressed our attitude to that. We proceed from the need for strict respect for Syria’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," Lavrov said.

"We are opposed to turning the country’s territory into a scene of armed standoff between various regional players," Lavrov said when asked to comment on remarks by some political analysts about softening Moscow’s stance on Israeli shelling of Syria.

The top Russian diplomat said, "During our contacts with all parties concerned, we highlight the importance of preventing an upsurge in tensions and the dangerous escalation of the situation in Syria, which are fraught with negative consequences for both neighboring countries and the Middle East region in general."

He went on to say that Russia in cooperation with Iran and Turkey contributed to working to set up a de-escalation zone in Syria’s south and southwest.

"Now these areas are under the control of the Syrian government. Russian military police officers help maintain law and order there," Lavrov said.

Israel began carrying out military strikes in Syria in 2013.

The Tel Aviv regime has recently increased its airstrikes in the Arab nation. Earlier in March, the Israeli regime launched the attacks on Shaykh Najjar industrial city located 10 km northeast of the city of Aleppo.

The Syrian government has on multiple occasions slammed the Israeli regime's act of aggression and also warned about the “dangerous repercussions” of Israeli assaults on its territories. Israel is widely believed to have been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to Takfiri elements wounded in Syria inside the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel often claims that it conducts airstrikes targeting “Iranian assets” in Syria.

Damascus and Tehran have repeatedly rejected Israeli claims that Iran has military bases in Syria. Iran has been offering military advisory support to Syria at the request of the Damascus government, enabling its army to speed up its gains on various fronts against terror outfits.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592746/Russia-FM-Sergei-lavrov-Israel-Syria-airstrikes

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Mideast

 

Netanyahu pledges to annex West Bank settlements after vote

7 April 2019

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Saturday to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the upcoming general election.

His comments come just days before the closely-fought April 9 poll and could be seen as an appeal to rightwing voters, who do not believe in the feasibility of a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“I will apply (Israeli) sovereignty, but I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements,” he said in an interview to Channel 12 television.

Settlements built on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War are deemed illegal by the international community and their ongoing construction is seen as a major barrier to peace.

Annexation could prove to be the death knell for the two-state solution.

In an interview broadcast Friday, Netanyahu said he told US President Donald Trump he would not remove settlements or people as part of a future American peace plan.

“I said there shouldn’t be the removal of even one settlement” from the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 13 television.

More than 400,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements as part of its military occupation of the territory, where more than 2.5 million Palestinians live.

A further 200,000 Israelis live in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem, over which Israel has already implemented full sovereignty.

Washington is expected to unveil proposals for Israeli-Palestinian peace sometime after Tuesday’s Israeli election in which Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term.

The Israeli prime minister was asked if he was familiar with the details of the US plan, replying he knew “what should be in it.”

Along with settlements, “our ongoing control of all the territory west of the Jordan” River was a further condition set by the Israeli premier for any US-led peace initiative.

Netanyahu said he informed Trump not “even one person” would be evicted from a settlement.

Tight race

The US president on Saturday was cautious about the outcome of the Israeli election on Tuesday, which he called a close race between “two good people”.

“How is the race going by the way? How is it, who’s going to win the race? Tell me, I don’t know,” Trump asked the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas.

“Well, it’s going to be close -- I think it’s going to be close. Two good people,” he said, referring to incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz.

The latest polls place Netanyahu and ex-military chief Gantz neck and neck, but give the former the advantage.

While Netanyahu has a close relationship with the US president, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cut off relations with Washington after Trump declared the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel’s capital in December 2017.

The Palestinians say the US government’s pro-Israel bias meant it could no longer lead peace negotiations between them and Israel, while US officials argue their plan will be fair.

Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts have been at a standstill since 2014, when a drive for a deal by Barack Obama’s administration collapsed.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/07/Netanyahu-pledges-to-annex-West-Bank-settlements-after-vote.html

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Iran’s Khamenei urges Iraq to ensure US troops leave “as soon as possible”

6 April 2019

Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Saturday to ensure US troops leave “as soon as possible”, Iranian state media reported.

“You must make sure that the Americans withdraw their troops from Iraq as soon as possible because expelling them has become difficult whenever they have had a long military presence in a country,” Khamenei was quoted as saying.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/06/Iran-s-Khamenei-urges-Iraq-to-ensure-US-troops-leave-as-soon-as-possible-.html

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Ready to expand gas, trade, says Iran’s Rouhani after meeting Iraqi PM

6 April 2019

President Hassan Rouhani called on Saturday for Iran and neighboring Iraq to expand their gas and electricity dealings and boost bilateral trade to $20 billion, state TV reported, despite difficulties caused by US sanctions against Tehran.

“The plans to export electricity and gas and hopefully oil continue and we are ready to expand these contacts not only for the two countries but also for other countries in the region,” Rouhani said after a meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, in remarks carried by state television.

In March, the United States granted Iraq a 90-day waiver exempting it from sanctions to buy energy from Iran, the latest extension allowing Baghdad to keep purchasing electricity from its neighbor.

“We hope that our plans to expand trade volume to $20 billion will be realized within a few months or years,” Rouhani said.

Iranian media reports have put the current level of trade at about $12 billion.

Rouhani expressed hope that work on building a railway linking the two countries, would begin within the next few months.

The railway project was part of deals reached during Rouhani’s March visit to Baghdad, meant to underline that Tehran still plays a dominant role in Iraq despite US efforts to isolate Iran.

Iran and Iraq fought a devastating 1980-88 war but the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that ousted Saddam Hussein prompted a long Sunni Islamist insurgency during which Iran’s regional sway rose at the expense of the United States.

Iraq on Saturday closed its Sheeb border crossing with Iran to travelers and trade until further notice, Iraqi security sources said, as flooding continues to submerge villages in southwestern Iran.

US President Donald Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s energy exports in November, citing its nuclear program and meddling in the Middle East, but has granted waivers to several buyers to meet consumer energy needs.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/06/Ready-to-expand-gas-trade-says-Rouhani-after-meeting-Iraqi-PM.html

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Palestinian prisoners to begin mass hunger strike to protest jail condition, mistreatment

Apr 6, 2019

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are set to go on hunger strike in Israeli jails in protest at harsh prison conditions and the Tel Aviv regime’s recent crackdowns on inmates.

Qadri Abu Bakr, head of the Commission of Palestinian Detainees and Ex-Detainees, told Palestine’s official news agency WAFA on Saturday that the first group of Palestinian inmates would go on hunger strike on Sunday, adding that another group will join the action on April 17, which marks Palestinian Prisoner Day.

Abu Bakr went on to say that another group of Palestinians would go on hunger strike on May 1.

He highlighted that the prisoners’ main demand was the removal of electronic jamming devices that the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) had installed in several prisons across the occupied territories.

These jamming devices are believed to have severe medical implications, including dizziness, headache and links to cancer.

Palestinian inmates are also demanding that the IPS install public phones in prison yards so that they can get in touch with their families.

Moreover, Palestinian prisoners are calling on Israeli officials to reverse punitive measures introduced in Naqab and Rimon prisons in the wake of recent riots there.

More than 7,000 Palestinians are reportedly held at Israeli jails. Hundreds of the inmates have apparently been incarcerated under the practice of administrative detention, a policy under which Palestinian inmates are kept in Israeli detention facilities without trial or charge.

Some Palestinian prisoners have been held in administrative detention for up to 11 years.

Palestinian inmates regularly stage hunger strike in protest at the administrative detention policy and harsh conditions in Israeli jails.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592738/Palestinian-prisoners-to-begin-mass-hunger-strike-to-protest-jail-condition-mistreatment

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Israeli settler runs over, injures Palestinian teenage boy in West Bank

Apr 6, 2019

A Palestinian teenager has been seriously injured after an Israeli settler ran him over in the southern part of the occupied West Bank.

“Ays Mahmoud Houshiyeh, 16, from the city of Hebron [al-Khalil] was run over by an Israeli settler while he was walking down the city’s main street” on Friday, Ibrahim Abu Zara, governor of al-Khalil’s Yatta municipality, told Anadolu news agency.

Palestinians in the West Bank are the target of frequent attacks by Israeli settlers.

In recent years, Israeli settlers have been frequently caught on camera vandalizing Palestinian farms in the West Bank and stealing their olive harvest.

Palestinians say the thefts and vandalism occur mainly on Palestinian land near settlements that they can only reach by coordinating ahead of time with the Israeli military.

Most of the attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property are met with impunity, with those guilty rarely facing consequences for such actions.

Rights groups, including Yesh Din and B’Tselem, have on several occasions slammed the regime in Tel Aviv for failing to protect Palestinians from settler violence or investigate attacks.

Israel occupied the entire West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, during full-frontal military operations in 1967.

Following the 1967 war, the law was applied to East al-Quds to enable Tel Aviv to confiscate homes of the Palestinians who are not "absent" or "missing" but live in so-called adversarial territories.

Israel forces Palestinian man to demolish own house

In a separate development, Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian man to demolish his own house in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Local sources reported that Nabeeh al-Basity was forced to demolish his house on Saturday.

Al-Basity said that his home was built in 1999 and was 65 square meters, adding that the city council decided three years ago to demolish the property, which lacked a construction license.

The demolition was carried out upon an order by the Israeli municipality of the city that claimed the property “caused damage to the archeological aspect on the Old City.”

Al-Basity had been summoned by the municipality of the city and was ordered to demolish his own house or face very high fines and fees.

Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds are regularly forced to demolish their own houses upon orders by the Israeli municipality of the city to avoid paying exorbitant demolition fees to the municipality.

Furthermore, Israeli authorities frequently demolish Palestinian buildings and structures in the so-called Area C, with Bedouin and herding communities being particularly vulnerable to that practice.

Area C, which is under full Israeli control, makes up more than 60 percent of the entire occupied West Bank. Eighty-eight percent of the area lies in the strategic Jordan Valley, which comprises a third of the West Bank.

Since 1967, the Israeli regime has been enforcing the draconian policy of demolishing the houses of Palestinians it deems to be behind fatal attacks against Israeli settlers. The practice, however, was temporarily halted from 2005 to 2014, with the exception of 2009, when scores of homes were sealed and razed in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

More than half a million Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds. Built on occupied land, the settlements are internationally condemned as illegal.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592730/West-Bank-Israel-settler

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North America

 

CAIR warns of increasing Islamophobia after New York arrests

April 07, 2019

NEW YORK: An advocacy group is warning of increased Islamophobia after a New York man was charged with threatening the life of a Muslim Congresswoman.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said Saturday it welcomes the FBI’s arrest this week of Patrick Carlineo Jr. but warned of “normalized hate speech.”

Carlineo was charged with placing a threatening call to the Washington office of US Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. His attorney declined to comment.

Omar is among the first of two Muslim women elected to Congress.

The FBI this week arrested another New York man who authorities say talked online with white supremacists about a reenactment of the New Zealand mosque massacre.

Thomas Alonzo Bolin was charged with lying to federal agents about whether he owned firearms. Bolin’s attorney declined to comment.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478816/world

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Iran to blacklist US military if Washington designates Guards as terrorists

6 April 2019

Iran may put the US military on its terror list if Washington designates the Iranian elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as terrorists, a senior Iranian lawmaker said on Saturday.

“If the Revolutionary Guards are placed on America’s list of terrorist groups, we will put that country’s military on the terror blacklist next to Daesh (ISIS),” Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee, said on Twitter.

The United States is expected to designate the Revolutionary Guards a foreign terrorist organization, three US officials told Reuters, marking the first time Washington has formally labeled another country's military a terrorist group.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/06/Iran-to-blacklist-US-military-if-Washington-designates-Guards-as-terrorists-.html

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Ilhan Omar 'doesn't like Israel': Trump

Apr 6, 2019

US President Donald Trump has made a sarcastic reference to Representative Ilhan Omar and said the Minnesota lawmaker “doesn’t like Israel,” one day after a New York man was arrested and charged with threatening to murder her.

“Special thanks to Representative Omar of Minnesota,” Trump said while delivering remarks at the Republican Jewish Coalition on Saturday afternoon. “Oh, I forgot. She doesn’t like Israel. I forgot. I’m so sorry.”

His remarks came a day after the US attorney’s office for the Western District of New York released a statement on Friday saying that a man, Patrick W. Carlineo Jr., was arrested and charged with threatening to murder Omar, the newly elected Muslim member of US Congress from the state of Minnesota.

According to the statement, the man had allegedly said he would put “bullet in her [expletive] skull” during a phone call with a member of her staff, and called the Congresswoman “terrorist.”

During the wide-ranging speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition, Trump also said that Democrats “aren’t fighting for Israel in Congress.”

“Republicans believe that we must never ignore the vile poison of anti-Semitism. We do. All of us,” he stated.

Omar is one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the US House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

The 37-year-old lawmaker was born to a family of Somali refugees and represents Minneapolis, Minnesota, a district with a large Somali population.

Omar has repeatedly criticized Israel and the powerful pro-Israel lobby in Washington that exerts great influence in US politics.

She has also slammed pro-Israel lawmakers for showing “allegiance to a foreign country.” 

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592770/Ilhan-Omar-doesnt-like-Israel-Trump

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US military admits to killing civilians in Somali airstrikes

Apr 6, 2019

The United States military has admitted for the first time that it killed two Somali civilians in one of its airstrikes in the African country's central El Burr region.

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) had for a long time insisted that it was only taking out “terrorists” in its alleged precision strikes in Somalia.

However, it admitted in a Friday statement that an internal review of the airstrikes had found hints at civilian casualties in April last year.

“During a commander-directed review of airstrikes conducted in Somalia since 2017, US Africa Command learned an April 1, 2018, airstrike killed two civilians," read the statement.

"The April 2018 airstrike was designed to degrade the al-Shabaab terrorist group near El Burr, Somalia. In the airstrike four al-Shabaab militants also were killed," it added.

The statement noted that a previous report on the airstrike, which stated five alleged terrorists had died in the attack, was not correct. The AFRICOM insisted that the error in reporting and assessment was an "isolated occurrence."

"Because of the reporting error, US Africa Command was not informed of the assessment's conclusion -- and subsequently the information was not reported to external authorities, such as the host nation and Congress," AFRICOM said in its statement.

The force said it had notified the Somali government of the casualties. The statement gave no further details of the civilians killed in the airstrike.

AFRICOM also denied any relations between the casualties and a report by Amnesty International around the same time of the attack.

Amnesty International had reported civilian casualties in US airstrikes before the April raid took place. However, AFRICOM had insisted back then that its attacks followed a firm "zero casualties" policy.

US airstrikes, described as "unlawful killings," could well amount to "war crimes", according to Amnesty.  The London-based rights group believes that AFRICOM's civilians death report understate the real numbers recorded by investigators based on reports. Last month, Amnesty reported that 14 civilians had been killed in only five US airstrikes that they had examined out of a total 110 missile strikes.

The US military campaign in Somalia, which includes missiles fired by manned aircraft as well as drones, expanded in Somalia after Donald Trump became president and declared southern Somalia an “area of active hostilities”.

Trump authorized the military in March 2017 to conduct “precision strikes”.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592688/Somalia-AFRICOM-US-Military

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Man charged with threatening to kill Muslim US lawmaker

Umar Farooq  

06.04.2019

WASHINGTON

A New York man was charged with threatening to assault and kill Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, according to multiple reports.

Patrick Carlineo, a man from Addison, New York placed a threat to kill Omar because of her Muslim faith in a phone call to one of Omar’s staff member, CNN News reported on Saturday.

"Do you work for the Muslim Brotherhood? Why are you working for her, she's a [obscenity] terrorist. I'll put a bullet in her [obscenity] skull,” Carlineo was reported to have said in the call.

"If our forefathers were still alive, they'd put a bullet in her head,” Carlineo initially claimed he had said.

He afterward told authorities he was unsure whether he did, according to CNN.

Omar, a Democratic congresswoman representing Minnesota's 5th district, is one of the first two Muslim lawmakers to be elected into U.S. Congress.

She has received multiple threats to her life and safety, a part of the ongoing criticisms and attacks she has faced since she made comments criticizing Israel, which some saw as "anti-Semitic".

Carlineo had made an initial appearance before a judge on Friday, and is currently being held until a hearing next Wednesday, according to the Elmira Star Gazette, a New York newspaper.

"I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country," Omar said at a progressive town hall meeting earlier this month, referring to Israel.

The remarks received widespread and bipartisan backlash, with some in Congress labeling them as anti-Semitic.

Omar apologized for similar comments made before, but this time she doubled down, saying she has "not mischaracterized our relationship with Israel. I have questioned it, and that has been clear from my end.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/man-charged-with-threatening-to-kill-muslim-us-lawmaker/1444226

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Southeast Asia

 

Malaysian government criticized for International Criminal Court U-turn

April 06, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been condemned for its U-turn on joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The government had said that signing the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, would have no impact on its sovereignty and that it was ready to ratify it.

But on Friday, in a surprise news conference, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said the government was reneging on its decision to join the ICC.

He claimed political maneuvering by certain interest groups had forced the government’s hand.

“The Cabinet made a decision to withdraw our ratification of the Statute of Rome. It is not because it is harmful to the country, but because of politics where people are easily misled by emotional claims that what this government is doing is against our own interest,” Mahathir said.

“I see this as a way to blacken my image. They know they cannot oust me easily, so they have to paint a bleak picture of me.”

The 93-year old leader claimed the politicking was an attempt to undermine the government and his role as prime minister, but did not give further details.

Shahriman Lockman, a senior analyst at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies of Malaysia, expressed his disappointment.

“It would’ve put Malaysia in a stronger moral position to comment on numerous issues that it has long championed: Palestine, Rohingya. This has been a lost opportunity,” he told Arab News.

He said that those people objecting to Malaysia joining the ICC were implying that the country’s leaders would be in the ICC’s crosshairs.

“It is an absolute nonsense to say that it would somehow affect the position of members of the royalty, by virtue of them being ceremonial heads of the Malaysian Armed Forces and their constituent units. Ceremonial heads are precisely that — ceremonial.”

The decision to withdraw from the ICC by the Pakatan Harapan leadership represents another setback for rights in Malaysia.

It repealed the mandatory death penalty, rather than scrapping capital punishment entirely, and also withdrew from ratifying the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Lockman said the government’s latest about-turn could affect its reputation.

“Yes, it would call into question Malaysia’s consistency and ability to keep its word. We have done U-turns on various commitments that we previously made to the international community.”

Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said the country had turned its back on the commitment toward ratifying the Rome Statute despite assuring the international community it was committed to combating international crimes for global peace and security.

“Malaysia must reverse its decision and honor its accession to the Rome Statute. As Malaysia had previously said, the ICC is the only avenue for justice for the millions of victims of international crimes,” Kaliemuthu said.

The ICC serves as a global justice system against the most serious offenses such as genocide and war crimes.

If Malaysia follows through on its decision it would join other countries including the US, China, Russia, Qatar, Israel, and the Philippines that are not part of the ICC.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478701/world

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Report: For Pakatan, Anwar’s succession and tackling political Islam a top priority

04 April 2019

By Zurairi AR

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should appoint Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy as soon as possible to signal a clear succession plan, a recent report on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration has pointed out.

The report by Sydney-based think tank Lowy Institute also urged Putrajaya to deal with the politicisation of Islam and the increasing involvement of Islam in governance, but noted that it would be the administration’s most difficult task.

“As quickly as practical, Mahathir should appoint Anwar as deputy prime minister and the official number two in the administration, sending a powerful signal to the world that the succession is on track.

“A clear timetable for the transition should be agreed as soon as possible, including a specific date for the transfer of power,” wrote its author Prof James Chin, director of the Asia Institute in the University of Tasmania.

In the report titled “New Malaysia: Four key challenges in the near term”, Chin said the two moves would help in eliminating “persistent chatter and political gossip” relating to Anwar’s political future, and would contribute to political stability.

“Persistent chatter about Anwar Ibrahim’s ability to ascend to the top job is having a destabilising impact on Malaysian politics. In a government in which power is highly centralised in the office of the prime minister, the prime minister’s standing is crucial in maintaining continuity and defusing tensions.

“Similarly, the Malaysian economy and financial markets do not like political uncertainty, particularly after such an unprecedented regime change. Malaysia has thrived economically in the past, in part because of the political certainty produced by Umno’s long reign,” Chin wrote.

In the past few months, Anwar has had to reiterate the narrative of a smooth transition process between him and Dr Mahathir, insisting that he expects to be prime minister in not more than two years' time.

Although Dr Mahathir has repeatedly stated that he will hand over the post to Anwar, no formal time frame has been set, with some within Pakatan Harapan also feeling that Dr Mahathir should be allowed a full term to carry out the coalition's reform pledges.

Amid factional tussle in Anwar’s party PKR, Economic Affairs Minister and party deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali was forced to deny rumours that he will be made the deputy prime minister during the Ramadan fasting month period.

The deputy prime minister is currently Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also Anwar’s wife and previously PKR president before Anwar returned to the post.

Chin also highlighted the neeed for a complete mindset change on to the position of Islam and the politicisation of Islam, saying that the current attitude where Islamic agencies refuse to participate in inter-faith issues is not sustainable and inflames religious tensions.

“Giving the non-Islamic faiths an official platform, such as a dedicated ministry, would provide a forum for rational discussion of inter-faith issues,” said the former senior fellow in Jeffrey Cheah Institute on South-east Asia.

This comes as Chin said the rise of political Islam and the religion’s bureaucratisation have produced a brand of intolerant Islam that promoted the narrative of Muslims versus non-Muslims here.

In his report, Chin also listed two other challenges for the PH administration: to address the Malay agenda and Bumiputera policy, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/04/04/report-for-pakatan-anwars-succession-and-tackling-political-islam-a-top-pri/1739621

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How social media inspired Indonesia’s born-again ‘hijrah’ Muslim millennials

6 Apr, 2019

As he types away intently on his laptop at a coffee shop in Jakarta, Andi Mardiansyah looks for all the world like a typical middle-class Indonesian millennial.

The IT salesman, 34, embraces flexible working and as it’s raining heavily outside, it’s only natural that this comfortable spot in the lobby of a five-star hotel might appeal to someone like him.

Except that it was not the rain that brought him here, but a different kind of guidance from above altogether. This is a locally owned cafe that gets Mardiansyah’s seal of approval because he prefers not to give his money to Western, non-Muslim, companies like Starbucks. And besides, there is something else about it that strikes a chord.

“I chose this place because they don’t play music here,” he says, explaining that he recently came to view music as haram (forbidden). “I really don’t want to hang out at the malls because of the music, and I would prefer not to drink coffee at Starbucks, but that doesn’t mean that I avoid them altogether. If I had another place to go to, I’d go there.”

Mardiansyah is among a growing number of young Indonesian Muslims who have chosen to leave behind flawed, sinful lives for purer, more Islamic ones in a social movement that has come to be known as hijrah , which takes its name from the historical migration of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in the seventh century to avoid persecution.

“In Indonesia, hijrah recently shifted from its theological meaning to a cultural one that marks a moment when a person abandons their bad behaviour for a better lifestyle according to Islam,” explains Muhammad As’ad, lecturer at the University of Hasyim Asy’ari in East Java. “Those [involved] are typically middle-class young people, particularly university students. They’re educated and financially wealthier than people in rural areas, so are more inclined to hijrah as it is popularised online via social networks.”

For IT salesman Mardiansyah, the shift in lifestyle has been particularly pronounced. In high school and at university, he had played guitar in a punk band, spending much of his time drunk and high with his band mates and other friends in the vibrant music scene of Palembang, in south Sumatra, and Bandung, a city about two hours’ drive from Jakarta. “Before we performed, we used to get drunk backstage. We would use drugs, too. I think the only sin I haven’t done is killing somebody,” he says, laughing. Even following his graduation, Mardiansyah continued his “sinful” lifestyle when he landed a job in Jakarta, spending most of his free time in the city’s many nightclubs. It was not until the middle of 2017, after much soul searching about his purpose in life, that Mardiansyah – father to a five-year-old son – decided to turn his life around.

CELEBRITY WORSHIP

Helping to drive the hijrah phenomena are mass religious gatherings, known as kajian musawarah or (for the biggest gatherings) tabligh akbar , at which local celebrities and popular Muslim clerics broadcast their piousness and encourage others to follow their example. Among those to have attended such events are the cleric Abdul Somad, who has more than 10 million followers on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, and celebrities including the actor and former MTV video-jockey Arie Untung, his wife Fenita Jayanti, and the television personalities Teuku Wisnu and Dude Herlino.

While the phrase hijrah has also been used as a rallying call in recent years by Islamist political groups such as the Prosperous Justice Party and now-disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, driving the conversions of Mardiansyah and most of his fellow millennials in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation is a proliferation of Islamic content online, as well as television shows, movies and music. There is even a dedicated television reality show called Hijrah , which tells the stories of public figures who have been born again as Muslims, while in November tens of thousands of people attended a three-day hijrah festival.

However, the involvement of celebrities has made some observers cynical, particularly when famous figures promote their Islamic lifestyles alongside online businesses selling umrah pilgrimage tours and Islam-friendly clothing.

Quinton Temby, a research fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, says one of the debates within the movement is the “commercialisation of hijrah ”.

“Many people, including Nahdlatul Ulama [Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation], are very cynical about that kind of hijrah , which may seem like a way for celebrities to try to rejuvenate their career by claiming to be a born-again Muslim,” he says.

“[Hijrah attracts young Muslims because] it promises a redemption, a way to reconcile this tension between how you can be faithful to your religion but also still enjoy the best aspect of globalised youth culture, the aspect that the two main Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, can’t deliver because they are out of touch and not as savvy online.”

Those youth who embrace hijrah do so to varying degrees. Many men, like Mardiansyah, will grow beards and wear trousers that end above the ankles; women often wear a veil. But the degree of piousness depends on the type of Islam they follow.

Mardiansyah, for example, follows Salafism – a strict form of Islam considered by its adherents as the purest. Mardiansyah sees both celebrating the birth of the Prophet and music as haram , to the point where he even burned his acoustic guitar. He is also against doing anything to boost the profits of Western social media companies, though in his eyes using such websites can also serve a legitimate purpose – spreading dawah (proselytising).

“[The hijrah movement] is more like a spectrum, on one side is a form of Islamic revivalism, which is very middle-class and university campus-based and it’s just young people seeking expressions of their faith by reconciling Islam and all kinds of youth culture including music,” says the research fellow Temby, referring to the Shafi’i school of Islam that is followed by most Muslims in Indonesia. “At the other end of the spectrum is Salafism, which is much more intolerant of some aspects of contemporary culture, especially music.”

A VOTE WINNER?

Given the country is hurtling towards a general election on April 17, the significance of this youth movement hasn’t been lost on Indonesia’s politicians.

Most analysts think votes from the hijrah demographic are likeliest to go to the opposition leader, former general Prabowo Subianto, and his running mate, the young tycoon Sandiaga Uno. While Prabowo has been revamping his image as a pious Muslim to gather support from Islamists, Sandiaga has been revamping his as a born-again modern santri [student of an Islamic school] – fitting with his liberal background as a successful, US-educated businessman and investor.

“When Sandiaga was first announced as Prabowo’s running mate on August 10, 2018, a Prosperous Justice Party leader dubbed him ‘a post-Islamist santri ’, the embodiment of rising conservatism among the educated middle class, though the appellation was widely ridiculed,” notes a recent report by the Jakarta think tank Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

A Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia. The chain has been subjected to boycotts by Muslim groups in the past. Photo: EPAA Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia. The chain has been subjected to boycotts by Muslim groups in the past. Photo: EPA

A Starbucks in Jakarta, Indonesia. The chain has been subjected to boycotts by Muslim groups in the past. Photo: EPA

As he types away intently on his laptop at a coffee shop in Jakarta, Andi Mardiansyah looks for all the world like a typical middle-class Indonesian millennial.

The IT salesman, 34, embraces flexible working and as it’s raining heavily outside, it’s only natural that this comfortable spot in the lobby of a five-star hotel might appeal to someone like him.

Except that it was not the rain that brought him here, but a different kind of guidance from above altogether. This is a locally owned cafe that gets Mardiansyah’s seal of approval because he prefers not to give his money to Western, non-Muslim, companies like Starbucks. And besides, there is something else about it that strikes a chord.

“I chose this place because they don’t play music here,” he says, explaining that he recently came to view music as haram (forbidden). “I really don’t want to hang out at the malls because of the music, and I would prefer not to drink coffee at Starbucks, but that doesn’t mean that I avoid them altogether. If I had another place to go to, I’d go there.”

Indonesian Muslim women outside a Starbucks cafe at a shopping mall in Jakarta. The chain has been subject to boycotts by Muslim groups in the past. Photo: AFP

Indonesian Muslim women outside a Starbucks cafe at a shopping mall in Jakarta. The chain has been subject to boycotts by Muslim groups in the past. Photo: AFP

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Mardiansyah is among a growing number of young Indonesian Muslims who have chosen to leave behind flawed, sinful lives for purer, more Islamic ones in a social movement that has come to be known as hijrah , which takes its name from the historical migration of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in the seventh century to avoid persecution.

“In Indonesia, hijrah recently shifted from its theological meaning to a cultural one that marks a moment when a person abandons their bad behaviour for a better lifestyle according to Islam,” explains Muhammad As’ad, lecturer at the University of Hasyim Asy’ari in East Java. “Those [involved] are typically middle-class young people, particularly university students. They’re educated and financially wealthier than people in rural areas, so are more inclined to hijrah as it is popularised online via social networks.”

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For Christians in Indonesia, retail and religion are intertwined. Just look at Singapore

For IT salesman Mardiansyah, the shift in lifestyle has been particularly pronounced. In high school and at university, he had played guitar in a punk band, spending much of his time drunk and high with his band mates and other friends in the vibrant music scene of Palembang, in south Sumatra, and Bandung, a city about two hours’ drive from Jakarta. “Before we performed, we used to get drunk backstage. We would use drugs, too. I think the only sin I haven’t done is killing somebody,” he says, laughing. Even following his graduation, Mardiansyah continued his “sinful” lifestyle when he landed a job in Jakarta, spending most of his free time in the city’s many nightclubs. It was not until the middle of 2017, after much soul searching about his purpose in life, that Mardiansyah – father to a five-year-old son – decided to turn his life around.

CELEBRITY WORSHIP

Helping to drive the hijrah phenomena are mass religious gatherings, known as kajian musawarah or (for the biggest gatherings) tabligh akbar , at which local celebrities and popular Muslim clerics broadcast their piousness and encourage others to follow their example. Among those to have attended such events are the cleric Abdul Somad, who has more than 10 million followers on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, and celebrities including the actor and former MTV video-jockey Arie Untung, his wife Fenita Jayanti, and the television personalities Teuku Wisnu and Dude Herlino.

While the phrase hijrah has also been used as a rallying call in recent years by Islamist political groups such as the Prosperous Justice Party and now-disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, driving the conversions of Mardiansyah and most of his fellow millennials in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation is a proliferation of Islamic content online, as well as television shows, movies and music. There is even a dedicated television reality show called Hijrah , which tells the stories of public figures who have been born again as Muslims, while in November tens of thousands of people attended a three-day hijrah festival.

However, the involvement of celebrities has made some observers cynical, particularly when famous figures promote their Islamic lifestyles alongside online businesses selling umrah pilgrimage tours and Islam-friendly clothing.

Quinton Temby, a research fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, says one of the debates within the movement is the “commercialisation of hijrah ”.

“Many people, including Nahdlatul Ulama [Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation], are very cynical about that kind of hijrah , which may seem like a way for celebrities to try to rejuvenate their career by claiming to be a born-again Muslim,” he says.

‘Islamic Carpool Karaoke’: the men behind Indonesia’s born-again hijrah movement

“[Hijrah attracts young Muslims because] it promises a redemption, a way to reconcile this tension between how you can be faithful to your religion but also still enjoy the best aspect of globalised youth culture, the aspect that the two main Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, can’t deliver because they are out of touch and not as savvy online.”

Those youth who embrace hijrah do so to varying degrees. Many men, like Mardiansyah, will grow beards and wear trousers that end above the ankles; women often wear a veil. But the degree of piousness depends on the type of Islam they follow.

Mardiansyah, for example, follows Salafism – a strict form of Islam considered by its adherents as the purest. Mardiansyah sees both celebrating the birth of the Prophet and music as haram , to the point where he even burned his acoustic guitar. He is also against doing anything to boost the profits of Western social media companies, though in his eyes using such websites can also serve a legitimate purpose – spreading dawah (proselytising).

“[The hijrah movement] is more like a spectrum, on one side is a form of Islamic revivalism, which is very middle-class and university campus-based and it’s just young people seeking expressions of their faith by reconciling Islam and all kinds of youth culture including music,” says the research fellow Temby, referring to the Shafi’i school of Islam that is followed by most Muslims in Indonesia. “At the other end of the spectrum is Salafism, which is much more intolerant of some aspects of contemporary culture, especially music.”

Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo, the incumbent, and Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta. Photo: EPA

Indonesian presidential candidates Joko Widodo, the incumbent, and Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta. Photo: EPA

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A VOTE WINNER?

Given the country is hurtling towards a general election on April 17, the significance of this youth movement hasn’t been lost on Indonesia’s politicians.

Most analysts think votes from the hijrah demographic are likeliest to go to the opposition leader, former general Prabowo Subianto, and his running mate, the young tycoon Sandiaga Uno. While Prabowo has been revamping his image as a pious Muslim to gather support from Islamists, Sandiaga has been revamping his as a born-again modern santri [student of an Islamic school] – fitting with his liberal background as a successful, US-educated businessman and investor.

Indonesia’s Prabowo Subianto plays to Muslim voters in a twist of faith before election

“When Sandiaga was first announced as Prabowo’s running mate on August 10, 2018, a Prosperous Justice Party leader dubbed him ‘a post-Islamist santri ’, the embodiment of rising conservatism among the educated middle class, though the appellation was widely ridiculed,” notes a recent report by the Jakarta think tank Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

With Indonesia’s ‘heresy app’, religious harmony hasn’t a prayer

“The Prabowo team began crafting a new image for Sandiaga as a pious born-again Muslim. Stories and images of him praying, visiting the graves of Nahdlatul Ulama’s founding fathers and doing non-mandatory fasting began to be widely circulated on social media. By late February 2019, some of his supporters on social media were comparing him to the Prophet Mohammed, who was known as a pious businessman. In one video, it was suggested a divine cloud hung over Sandi’s head to protect him from the sun, just like the special cloud sent by God to protect Mohammed when he walked through the Arabian Desert.”

Still, with just weeks to the elections, most polls have the opposition trailing the incumbent President Joko Widodo and his running mate, the conservative ulama (scholar) Maruf Amin. A survey released on March 17 by Jakarta-based pollster Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting found Widodo leading with 57.6 per cent of the votes, compared to the opposition’s 31.8 per cent. Pollster Litbang Kompas last month found a narrower gap, with Widodo on 49.2 per cent and Prabowo about 12 percentage points behind. The same pollster found Sandiaga was more popular than Amin with voters in four out of six age categories, including first-time voters, millennials, and members of Generation X.

“I think that the hijrah movement connects culturally very well with Sandiaga Uno because he is known as someone who has a liberal past but is now religious. From what I’ve seen he can successfully connect to those aspirational pious young Muslims,” says Temby from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

“I think it’s one of a number of important factors that will help the Prabowo and Sandiaga campaign. I don’t think it will necessarily change the outcome of the election, but it will solidify the support [for] Prabowo and Sandiaga in West Java [the country’s most populous province], which is where Prabowo beat Widodo in 2014.”

However, analysts say that even if born-again Muslims throw their weight behind Prabowo, they will probably be outnumbered by the members of more traditional Muslim organisations – such as Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah – who are more likely to vote for Widodo.

“The turnout from grass-roots voters is likely to be bigger than that of educated Muslim voters, but the poll might be contested in Jakarta due to the influence of the hijrah celebrities who are leaning towards Prabowo,” says As’ad, the university lecturer.

And there is another problem for any politician hoping to pick up the pious vote – some Muslims cite their religion as a reason for not taking part in the election. Arya Fernandes, a researcher with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia, estimates about 5 per cent of eligible voters will stay away from the poll for this reason, including former members of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia.

And then there are Salafis like Mardiansyah, who have been taught that democracy, with its roots in ancient Greek politics, is by its very nature haram .

Full report at:

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3004911/how-social-media-inspired-indonesias-born-again-hijrah-muslim

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Religion, human rights shape race in eastern Indonesia

April 7, 2019

With the presidential candidates mostly concentrating on the much more populous islands of Java and Sumatra, not much change is expected in the more remote eastern parts of Indonesia. The eastern provinces of West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), North Maluku, Maluku, West Papua, and Papua are home to 13.4 million registered voters, making up about 7 percent of the electorate.  Majority Muslim NTB and North Maluku were among the 10 provinces that Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto won in the 2014 elections, while Maluku was a close-run race in which President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo garnered 50.5 percent of the votes compared to Prabowo’s 49.5. In predominantly Christian NTT, West Papua and Papua, Jokowi won landslide victories, garnering well over 60 percent of the vote in the provinces.  In NTB, with the support of popular former g...

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/04/06/religion-human-rights-shape-race-in-eastern-indonesia.html

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South Asia

 

Bangladeshi IS recruiters among eight charged

April 7th, 2019

A court is likely to receive the charge sheet on April 24 to forward it to the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police has filed a charge sheet against eight persons for their involvement with acts of terrorism and alleged links to the Islamic State (IS).

Of the charged sheet accused, six are behind bars while cops have asked the court to issue arrest warrants against the remaining two, said Sub-inspector Md. Amir Hossain of the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit.

A magistrate court is likely to receive the charge sheet on April 24 to forward it to the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal in Dhaka.

The police are said to have found sufficient evidence against the accused -- Aminul Islam Beg, 38, Sakib Bin Kamal, 34, Kazi Saifuddin Yahya, 44, Gazi Kamrus Salam Sohan, 30, Abdullah Al Ghalib, 27, Fida Muntasir Saker, 29, Mohammad Saifullah Ozaki, and Mohammad Nazibullah Ansari, 30.

The case was filed with Uttara East Police Station on May 24, 2015, under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009.

Who are they?

One of the accused, Aminul, was regional co-coordinator of the banned militant outfit Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). In May 2015, a Detective Branch team arrested him from a house in Uttara. In primary interrogation, he admitted that he  recruited members for Islamic State and provided them shelter and training.

Another accused, Sakib, was arrested following the information gleaned from Aminul.

 Sub-inspector Md Amir Hossain, who submitted the charge sheet, found that being motivated by the activities of IS in Iraq and Syria, several JMB members including Aminul, Sakib, Ghalib, Saker, Yahya, Sohan, Ozaki, and Ansari, were motivated to commit some acts of militancy in Bangladesh.

Aminul Islam Beg and Saifullah Ozaki were behind the recruitment process. They patronized, sponsored, and guided a number of Bangladeshi youths to engage in militancy.

The chain of radicalization

Aminul is a graduate in Computer Science and Engineering from Multimedia University of Malaysia. In 2012, he searched the Internet to learn about ‘explanation of dreams’ and was overwhelmed by the YouTube lectures and sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who had turned into a firebrand preacher and effective recruiter for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Aminul was a member of the Facebook group, ‘Ex-cadet Islamic Learning Forum,’ where topics of ‘repression against Muslims all over the world’ were discussed.

Ozaki started the Facebook group, ‘Ex-Cadets Islamic Learning Forum,’ and used it to radicalize people. He would share some links and write ups on Islamic Jihad in the group’s page. Aminul got acquainted with Ozaki in 2013 and started brainwashing youths.

Sakib, an engineer, taught mathematics at Lakehead Grammar School in Dhanmondi in 2011-2012. Later, he opened the Phrontistery School in Lalmatia and joined the JMB, inspired by Aminul in 2014.

Another accused, Kazi Saifuddin Yahya, got acquainted with Ozaki in 2013. Yahya was also recruited by Ozaki and maintained communication with him online.

The trio--Ozaki, Aminul, and Sakib--built up a close relationship with Yahya as they were of the same ideology.

Gazi Kamrus Salam Sohan, an assistant engineer at Dhaka Electric Supply Company Limited, joined the Facebook group in 2013, and was assigned to collect and reserve funds.

Later in 2014, Ozaki and Aminul managed a Turkish Visa for Sohan and received him in Ankara upon his arrival. Sohan sneaked into Syria and was escorted by IS fighters to Raqqa. He returned home after staying there for five months.

The others accused were also involved with JMB and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), a banned militant outfit, according to the charge sheet.

The investigators said they could not find the address and other details of Atik Sarkar, Sifat, Abdullah, Javed Kaysar and some 15/20 unidentified people, who were later dropped from the charge sheet.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2019/04/07/bangladeshi-is-recruiters-among-eight-charged

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Myanmar ‘crazy drug’ tops agenda at border talks with Bangladesh

April 06, 2019

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Moves to curb the smuggling of a highly addictive drug known as “crazy medicine” will top the agenda at a five-day border conference between Bangladesh and Myanmar.

The stimulant yaba — a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine that usually comes in the form of colorful, candy-like tablets — is produced in border areas of Myanmar and smuggled into Bangladesh.

The Dhaka government has “declared war” on the drug and stepped up measures to counter smuggling operations. In 2016, up to $29 million of yaba was seized by Bangladeshi authorities.

High-ranking border talks between the two countries began on Saturday in the Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Taw.

The 11-member Bangladesh delegation is led by Maj. Gen. Md Shafeenul Islam, the Border Guard director general, while the 17-strong Myanmar group is headed by Brig. Gen. Myo Than, the country’s police chief.

Bangladesh’s focus at the talks will be on the production of yaba in Myanmar and the smuggling of the banned drug across the 270 km border between the countries.

“It’s a very difficult situation,” a Bangladeshi security analyst, Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mohammed Ali Sikder, told Arab News. “The Myanmar army has a vested interest in this drug trading and that’s why they are not much interested in stopping its spread.

“Bangladesh needs to make Myanmar understand that the spread of yaba is a threat not only for Bangladesh but also for the security and stability of the region.”

Use of the drug is spreading rapidly across Asia and even as far as Australia and the west coast of the US.

The border talks will also examine joint security issues, attempts to stop Myanmar nationals trespassing on Bangladesh territory, and repatriation of jailed citizens of both countries.

Security experts hope the discussions will help “restore mutual trust” between the countries amid efforts to counter the activities of separatist groups from Myanmar, which are active in the border region and favor hideouts in neighboring Bangladesh.

“We need to develop some understanding with Myanmar to halt these separatist groups’ activities. We can introduce joint patrolling or joint surveillance on the border, which will help in the trust-building process,” Sikder said.

He said the strengthening of “mutual trust” between the countries will also help with the repatriation of millions of Rohingyas to their homeland Rakhine.

Bangladesh has tightened surveillance on the Myanmar border after declaring it will not accept any more Myanmar nationals.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478656/world

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Haqqani network militants among 15 killed in latest air, ground operations

06 Apr 2019

At least 15 militants including three members of the notorious Haqqani terrorist network were killed during the latest operations conducted in past 24 hours.

Informed military sources said Saturday that the Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid against Haqqani fighters in Terayzai district of Khost province killing 3 Haqqani fighters and destroying a small weapons cache.

The sources further added that an air strike in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province killed 4 Taliban fighters while 5 others were killed in a similar airstrike conducted in Bermal district of Paktiak province.

“An airstrike was conducted in Arghandab district of Zabul province killed 3 Taliban fighters and wounded 1 other,” the sources added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/haqqani-network-militants-among-15-killed-in-latest-air-ground-operations-03659/

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Afghan armed force storm Taliban headquarters in Faryab province

07 Apr 2019

The Afghan armed forces have stormed a key Taliban headquarters in northenr Faryab province of Afghanistan, the Afghan military said Sunday.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said armed forces belonging to 5th Kandak of Commando Forces stormed a key Taliban headquarters in Qaramqol district on Saturday.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, the location of the headquarters was ascertained in close cooperation with the local resident and was destroyed during a special operation.

The statement further added that the Taliban militants had abandoned their headquarters before the arrival of commando forces.

Some communication devices and explosives were destroyed during the operation, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-armed-force-storm-taliban-headquarters-in-faryab-province-03664/

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Double blast kills three people, injures 19 in east Afghanistan

6 April 2019

Twin explosions on Saturday in the eastern Afghanistan city of Jalalabad killed three people and injured 19 others, a government spokesman said.

Two children and eight security forces were among the casualties, said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the Nangarhar provincial government.

It was not clear what caused the explosions.

No group took immediate responsibility. ISIS emerged in Nangarhar in 2015 on the porous border with Pakistan to become one of Afghanistan's most dangerous militant groups for its bombing and complex attacks.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/04/06/Double-blast-kills-three-people-injures-19-in-east-Afghanistan.html

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Africa

 

Libya: 14 soldiers loyal to Khalifa Haftar killed

Hamdi Yildiz 

07.04.2019

A total of 14 soldiers loyal to East Libya-based commander Khalifa Haftar have been killed in the clashes with Libyan army in Tripoli, said a spokesman Saturday.

In a press conference in Benghazi, Ahmed Mesmari, Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, warned that the airplanes that would be flying in the region during operations will be shut down.

He did not give any information about the regions his troops control.

In a statement, however, Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) announced that they control the areas around Tripoli.

GNA also said it has taken dozens of captives from Haftar's troops, confiscated many vehicles and repelled the rival troops beyond the boundaries of the city of Gharyan.

On Thursday, Haftar launched a military campaign to recapture Tripoli from UN-backed Government of National Accord forces.

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when a NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of President Muammar Gaddafi after four decades in power.

Since then, the country’s stark political divisions have yielded two rival seats of power: one in the eastern city of Al-Bayda, to which Haftar is linked, and another in Tripoli.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libya-14-soldiers-loyal-to-khalifa-haftar-killed/1444349

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Sudanese protesters enter army headquarters

Mohammed Amin 

06.04.2019

Hundreds of protesters entered the army headquarters in capital Khartoum on Saturday in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in the last four months.

Security forces tried to disperse the protesters using tear gas.

The protesters demanded President Omar Al-Bashir to step down.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu Agency that a huge crowd had gathered around the headquarters asking the army to intervene and overthrow the regime.

Sudan has been shaken by protests since last December, with demonstrators demanding the departure of al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/sudanese-protesters-enter-army-headquarters/1444208

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Libya talks to go ahead despite new fighting: UN envoy

April 06, 2019

TRIPOLI: The United Nations is determined to hold Libya’s national conference on possible elections on time despite eastern forces’ advance on the capital Tripoli in an escalation of the conflict, a senior UN envoy said on Saturday.

G7 foreign ministers warned eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar to halt his thrust on Tripoli, menacing the internationally recognized government based there, or face possible international action.

Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Friday its forces had advanced into the capital’s southern outskirts and taken its former international airport.

The offensive by the LNA, which is allied to a parallel administration based in the main eastern city of Benghazi, intensifies a power struggle that has fractured the oil-producing country since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.

The United Nations aims to stage a conference in the southwestern town of Ghadames on April 14-16 to weigh elections as a way out of the country’s prolonged factional anarchy, which has seen militants establish a toehold in some areas.

Ghassan Salame, the UN special envoy to Libya, said he was striving to prevent the new crisis from getting out of control. “We have worked for one year for this national conference, we won’t give up this political work quickly,” he said.

“We know that holding the conference in this difficult time of escalation and fighting is a difficult matter. But we are determined to hold it on time unless compelling circumstances force us not to,” he told reporters in Tripoli.

At a G7 meeting in France, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he and his counterparts had agreed they must exert pressure on those responsible for the upsurge of fighting in Libya, especially Haftar.

Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi said the G7 statement “should be seen as an appeal to General Haftar to consider with a sense of responsibility peaceful solutions for stabilizing Libya under the UN umbrella.”

Russia also called for restraint, saying Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Haftar in a phone call that Moscow continues to insist on a political solution to “disputed issues” in Libya.

Haftar told Bogdanov about what he described as efforts to fight terrorists in Libya, including near Tripoli, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The United Nations wants to find agreement on a road map for elections to resolve the protracted instability in Libya, an important oil exporter and transit point for refugees and migrants trekking across the Sahara with the objective of reaching Europe across the Mediterranean Sea to the north.

In Cairo on Saturday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the crisis could not be settled by military means, though insecurity in Libya had long been a source of worry.

At a news conference alongside Shoukry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow wanted all political forces in Libya to strike an agreement in support of peace and warned against foreign meddling there.

There were no reports of significant fighting on Saturday.

Haftar’s LNA said on Saturday its positions were attacked in an air strike south of Tripoli but there were no casualties.

Haftar, 75, was quoted by Al-Arabiya TV as telling Guterres his offensive would continue until terrorism was defeated.

A former officer in Qaddafi’s army, Haftar enjoys the backing of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which see him as a bulwark against extremists and have supported him militarily, according to UN reports. The UAE, however, joined Western countries in expressing its deep concern about the fighting.

In the past, Haftar has struck deals with armed factions outside Tripoli to advance his forces. But gaining control of Tripoli — the ultimate prize for Haftar’s eastern parallel government — would be far more complicated.

Armed groups allied to the Tripoli government have moved more machine gun-mounted pickup trucks from Misrata to Tripoli to defend it against Haftar’s forces. The city is known for a spirit of resisting “old regime” figures, developed during 2011 when pro-Qaddafi forces besieged it for three months.

The LNA says it has 85,000 men but this includes soldiers paid by the central government that it hopes to inherit. Its elite force, Saiqa (Lightning), numbers some 3,500, while Haftar’s sons also have well-equipped troops, LNA sources say.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478531/middle-east

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Civilian killed as Sudanese protesters clash with security forces

7 April 2019

A civilian died on Saturday during protests in Omdurman, the twin city of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, state news agency SUNA and a doctors’ committee said.

SUNA said civilians and policemen were injured in the demonstrations, citing police reports. Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces near President Omar al-Bashir’s residence Khartoum on Saturday.

Security forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing demonstrators and tried to disperse the crowd, which had responded to a call by activists trying to increase pressure on Bashir to step down.

They waved Sudanese flags and chanted slogans demanding “freedom, peace and justice” as they gathered outside the gates of the compound, guarded by army soldiers, that also houses the defense ministry, army command and security headquarters.

By the evening, the clashes subsided as security forces pulled back, allowing the thousands still gathered to remain outside the compound. Witnesses said young demonstrators sang nationalist songs and danced for joy. Some said they would stay until Bashir stepped down.

Information Minister Hassan Ismail, who also serves as the government spokesman, praised security forces for the manner they handled the protests and said the government remained committed to dialogue to resolve the crisis.

“The approach followed by government apparatus was met with satisfaction from citizens,” Ismail said in a statement. “Sudanese blood is the most precious thing we need to preserve”.

Bashir has refused to step down, saying his opponents need to seek power through the ballot box.

“Today, we won and we are confident that the regime will fall,” said Mohamed Saleh, a 63-year-old university professor who estimated the crowd to be at more than 100,000 people.

An independent estimate for the number of protesters was not immediately available. But witnesses said the protest appeared to be larger than previous ones.

“There are crowds as far as the eye can see,” one witness told Reuters.

Anniversary

Sudanese activists, apparently emboldened by the success of similar but much larger protests in Algeria that forced ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down, called Saturday’s protests to mark the anniversary of the 1985 coup that forced Nimeiri to step down following mass protests against his rule.

The demonstrators said they wanted to deliver a message to the country’s armed forces to side with them in trying to push Bashir out of power.

Sudanese say the armed forces had in the past backed popular protests against autocratic rulers, including their 1985 move against the then President Jaafar Nimeiri.

Nimeiri’s downfall paved the way for national elections and a civilian government which Bashir ousted in an Islamist-backed military coup in 1989. Bashir had since run and was elected president in repeated elections which his critics say were neither fair nor free.

Representing the most sustained challenge to Bashir since he took power in 1989, the wave of protests that began on Dec. 19 were triggered by price rises and cash shortages but have evolved into demonstrations against his long rule.

In February, Bashir declared a state of emergency in the country of 40 million, sacked his government and state governors in a series of moves aimed at tightening his control.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/04/07/Civilian-killed-as-Sudanese-protesters-clash-with-security-forces-.html

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Haftar forces announce no-fly zone after being targeted by air strike

6 April 2019

Forces loyal to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar declared on Saturday a no-fly zone for combat aircraft in the Western Libya military zone, where it is mounting an offensive against Tripoli, the Al Arabiya TV channel reported citing the military.

Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).said they had been targeted by an air strike, as fresh fighting flared south of Tripoli.

“We strongly condemn the air raid... in the Al-Aziziya region” by a plane, which had taken off from western Misrata, said the LNA media office.

Forces in Misrata are mostly loyal to Libya’s internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been battling Haftar for control of the war-torn north African country.

Pro-government forces in the capital Tripoli confirmed they had targeted Haftar’s men with “intensive strikes”.

The air strikes came as fresh fighting flared Saturday south of Tripoli between the pro-government forces and Haftar’s troops despite calls from the international community to halt the military offensive.

Russia tells Haftar it favors political solution 

Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held a phone call on Friday with Haftar and reiterated Moscow’s position that it supports a political solution to the crisis in the country.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that Haftar told Bogdanov about what he described as efforts to fight terrorists in Libya, including near its capital Tripoli in the west of the country.

Haftar’s forces are battling for control of an area some 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the capital near Tripoli’s international airport, which was destroyed in 2014.

On Friday, they were pushed back from a key checkpoint west of the capital, less than 24 hours after seizing it during a lightning offensive towards Tripoli.

Late Friday Haftar’s men also briefly seized the airport, before being ousted.

Audio message

Haftar on Thursday ordered his troops to advance on the capital.

“The time has come” to take Tripoli, he said in an audio message, pledging to spare civilians and “state institutions”.

Dozens of militia have proliferated in Libya since the NATO-backed 2011 overthrow of dictator Muamer Gaddafi and are variously aligned with either the unity government or the rival administration in the east backed by Haftar.

Tripoli residents have expressed concern that large-scale fighting could break out and began stocking up on food and petrol.

On Saturday, large queues formed at petrol stations and supermarkets, an AFP journalist said.

“We must store everything we need for the family, just in case, especially those with young children,” said Farida, a mother pushing a full shopping cart.

“You never know how long it will last,” she added.

Despite the flare-up, UN envoy Ghassan Salame insisted Saturday that talks planned to be held next week in Libya would go ahead.

“We are determined” to hold the talks “as scheduled” unless prevented by serious obstacles, Salame told a press conference.

“We want to reassure Libyans that we will stay alongside the Libyan people to make the political process a success without resorting to escalation.”

Since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been divided between an array of armed groups.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/04/06/Haftar-forces-announce-no-fly-zone-after-being-targeted-by-air-strike-.html

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Russia warns against foreign meddling in Libya

6 April 2019

Russia wants all the political forces in Libya to find an agreement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday during a visit to Cairo.

In a news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, Lavrov warned against foreign meddling in Libya.

For his part, Egypt’s FM said that the Libyan crisis cannot be resolved through military means, but added that the security situation in the country had long been a source of worry.

“Egypt has supported from the beginning a political agreement as a tool to prevent any military solution” in Libya, Shoukry said.

UN to hold Libya’s national conference as planned

Meanwhile, the UN special envoy to Libya said on Saturday that he was determined to hold Libya’s national conference on time despite ongoing fighting in the North African country.

The United Nations is planning to hold a conference in the southwestern town of Ghadames from April 14 to 16 to discuss elections as a way out of the country’s eight-year-long conflict.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/04/06/Russia-warns-against-foreign-meddling-in-Libya-.html

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Libya’s Haftar forces targeted by airstrike as they march for capital Tripoli

Apr 6, 2019

Forces of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Libya’s strongman Khalifa Haftar, say they have been targeted by an airstrike south of Tripoli, as they are pushing forward to seize the capital reportedly with support from the United Arab Emirtes, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

The North African country has been divided between two rival governments, the House of Representatives, based in the eastern city of Tobruk, and the internationally-recognized government of Fayez al-Sarraj, or the Tripoli-based unity Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar is presumably loyal to the one in the east.

Middle East Monitor quoted a senior Libyan general as saying that there are Emirati and Egyptian weapons being used by Haftar's fighters in the battle to capture the capital and oust the GNA, stressing that Saudi Arabia gave Haftar the green light for his attack and supplied him with money in order to take over the west Libya.

“Egypt and the UAE supplied Haftar with arms and heavy equipment...  Haftar is also using militias from Chad and the Sudanese opposition," Libyan Brigadier General Mohammad Al-Qunidi, who is chief of the military intelligence loyal to Sarraaj, has said, noting, “The three Arab countries support Haftar’s militias in order to create a new Sisi in Libya,” referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

“Haftar does not have money and arms enough to face Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous forces [the coalition formed to expel Daesh from the central city of Sirte in 2016] and the Libyan army together in the western area. His move came only after his latest visit to Saudi Arabia,” he told Al Khaleej Online on Friday.

According to the Guardian, Haftar met King Salman of Saudi Arabia on 27 March in Riyadh. However, King Salman did not meet with Sarraj at the Arab League meeting in Tunis two days later, a move that could be taken as a signal of support for Haftar at a time when it was known he was considering an attack on Tripoli.

The LNA media office said in a statement on Saturday that a military plane, reportedly taken off from the city of Misrata, conducted the airstrike “in the al-Aziziya region,” some 50 kilometers south of Tripoli. Forces in Misrata are mostly loyal to the GNA.

“We strongly condemn the air raid,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, forces loyal to the GNA arrived in Tajura, a coastal suburb of Tripoli, from their base in Misrata.

In Thursday, the eastern forces fully seized Gharyan town, located about 100 kilometers south of Tripoli, and on Friday they captured the former Tripoli International Airport.

Earlier Friday, forces allied to the GNA had pushed back Haftar's forces from a key checkpoint less than 30 kilometers from Tripoli.

The United Nations has already voiced its deep concern regarding the outcome of the soaring conflicts for the African nation, strongly urging Haftar to halt his forces’ advancement toward the capital.

UN insists to hold national conference

Additionally on Saturday, the UN said that it was determined to hold Libya’s national conference on possible elections on time despite the current surge of fighting.

The world body aims to hold a conference in the southwestern town of Ghadames on April 14-16 to weigh elections as a way out of Libya’s factional anarchy.

“We know that holding the conference in this difficult time of escalation and fighting is a difficult matter. But we are determined to hold it on time unless compelling circumstances force us not to,” said Ghassan Salame, a senior UN envoy, in a press conference in Tripoli.

Furthermore, the G7 foreign ministers on Saturday warned Haftar to desist from his thrust on the capital, threatening the GNA there, or face possible international action.

Libya has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator Muammar Gaddafi was toppled from power after an uprising and a NATO military intervention.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592744/Libya-Haftar-airstrike-Tripoli-GNA-UN

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India

 

Pakistan Not Interested In Eliminating Terrorism: Defence Minister

Apr 07, 2019

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Saturday slammed Pakistan for not acting against terrorists operating from its soil despite India providing it evidence several times.

Sitharaman told reporters here that Pakistan did not want to eliminate terror.

“Pakistan is interested in promoting terrorism. It does not want to eliminate terrorism,” the senior BJP leader said when asked about Pakistan stonewalling dossiers on terrorists supplied by India.

“Not just this government, but even earlier governments have given dossier after dossier, evidence after evidence but Pakistan has done nothing on them,” she said.

Talking about the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai by Pakistani terrorists, she said even the first court in the neighbouring country had not completed the job of trying the accused.

Claiming that only the Narendra Modi government could give a befitting reply to terrorists, she said opposition parties were insulting soldiers by questioning the February 26 air strikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot.

The air strikes were carried out after the JeM terror outfit claimed responsibility for the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were martyred.

She said the morale of the armed forces was high and people’s support had raised their motivation level even further.

On a query on the Rafale fighter jet purchase in which the Congress has alleged irregularities, Sitharaman said the deal followed laid down norms and was made in national interest.

“Bofors was a scam. Not Rafale. Rafale will bring back the Modi government to build a new India and stamp out corruption,” she claimed.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/pakistan-not-interested-in-eliminating-terrorism-nirmala-sitharaman/story-VlnVEz8RQ3TFTla6ZinNbK.html

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Two Hizbul militants killed in gun battle in J-K’s Shopian

Apr 06, 2019

Two militants of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed in south Kashmir’s Shopian district after a brief gunfight on Saturday. One of the militants is a M Tech student who had joined militant ranks three days ago, police said.

In the afternoon, army and police had launched a joint operation at Lasdanau Imam sahib and chased a group of militants in the orchards. Two militants were killed in the brief encounter. One of the militants was identified as Rahil Rashid Shiekh of Nuner Ganderbal. He had joined Hizbul on April 3 and his picture carrying an Ak47 was circulated on social media. The other has been identified as Bilal Ahmad of Keegam village, police added.

Defense spokesman Rajesh Kalua confirmed the killing of two militants ar Lasdanau (Shopian). “Two terrorists eliminated. Weapons and warlike stores recovered. Operation in progress,” he said.

Since Lethpora convoy attack in December 2018, army has killed 38 militants in 17 encounters across the Kashmir valley. So far, 65 militants have been killed in various operations by security forces this year.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/two-militants-killed-in-gunfight-with-security-forces-in-jammu-and-kashmir-s-shopian/story-F1bfDfrArDLEUZ5oZrmwqM.html

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Mumbai: Muslim religious leaders call for votes for secular parties

Apr 6, 2019

MUMBAI: Nearly 700 ulema (maulanas) and religious scholars from NorthWest constituency comprising Andheri, Jogeshwari and Goregaon, converged Friday to determine the voting pattern of the Muslim community at the upcoming General Election. It is rare for all sects including Sunni, Tablighi, Shia, Bohra, Wahhabi, Deobandi Barelvi to come together on one platform.

In one voice, they stressed the need to defeat the BJP and vote secular parties to preserve minority rights as guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.

The meeting was organised in Jogeshwari by the Khidmat Organisation that belongs to former Congress corporator Mohsin Haider and his wife Meher, present councillor. Haider said, "It is unprecedented for ulema of all sects to assemble like this on a common platform. There is a pressing need to combat the communal forces that propagate false notions of Muslims as antinational." He recited a beautiful couplet to say that even a Muslim corpse is buried only after the ritual washing (ghusl) so as to not pollute the soil of the motherland.

Congress candidate for the North West assembly Sanjay Nirupam began his speech by reminding the audience of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj's ominous utterance. "He clearly said that should Narendra Modi come to power this time, they will cancel elections in future. There will be no more polls. The Constitution will be suspended. So I say that this election is our chance to save the nation. We must set aside all our differences and come to common ground in order to preserve the values that have nurtured this nation for 70 years.

Imams and scholars of various sects echoed the fear that India's secular fabric is being damaged, that the very concept of nationhood is in jeopardy. "Right from the Ghadar (Rebellion) of 1857, our ulema have been martyred in the path of India. They did not fight for Muslims alone, they shed blood for all Indians," said one speaker.

Apprehensions of EVMs being tampered also found voice.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/elections/lok-sabha-elections-2019/maharashtra/news/mumbai-muslim-religious-leaders-of-all-sects-call-for-votes-for-secular-parties/articleshow/68754143.cms

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Terrorists kill Kashmiri soldier on leave, 3rd since June last year

Apr 6, 2019

SRINAGAR: Masked terrorists on Saturday shot dead a Kashmiri Army jawan outside his home at the Warpora area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. He had come home on leave from his unit.

SSP Sopore Javid Iqbal told TOI that Mohammad Rafi Yatoo, who had suffered heavy gunshot wounds, was immediately taken to a hospital in Srinagar, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Soon after the killing at 5.25pm, a team of personnel from the Army and police’s special operations group launched a cordon-and-search operation in the area to nab the assailants.

Saturday’s attack comes in the wake of several killings of men-in-uniform by terrorists in the Valley. In June last year, 44 Rashtriya Rifles personnel Aurangzeb was kidnapped and shot dead by terrorists while he was travelling in a private vehicle to his home in Poonch to celebrate Eid with his family. Aurangzeb’s bullet-riddled body was recovered later by a team of police and Army. He was shot repeatedly in the head and abdomen.

In July 2018, three terrorists had dragged 23-year old Kashmiri Army officer, Umar Fayaz Parray, four kilometres away from his uncle’s house in Shopian district and shot him dead. He had come to attend his cousin’s wedding. Umar had joined the Rajputana Rifles unit in Akhnoor as a commissioned officer, in the rank of a Lieutenant.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kashmiri-soldier-on-leave-shot-dead-in-sopore/articleshow/68757548.cms

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NIA arrests JeM operative for 2017 terror attack on CRPF camp

Apr 6, 2019

NEW DELHI: The NIA on Saturday arrested an operative of Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Muhammed in connection with the 2017 terror attack on a CRPF camp in South Kashmir, officials here said.

Syed Hilal Andrabi, 35, of Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, was produced before a court which sent him to five days' police custody, they said.

He was arrested from Jammu by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the attack on the CRPF camp at Lethpora in South Kashmir on December 30, 2017, in which five personnel were martyred.

Three Jaish-e-Muhammed terrorists were killed during the 36-hour-long gunfight.

The UN-proscribed JeM had sent two suicide attackers to the camp, including the 16-year-old son of a policeman who had joined the outfit a few months before the attack.

An active over ground worker of the JeM, Andrabi is a key conspirator who provided logistic support in the form of sheltering the terrorists and conducting reconnaissance of the CRPF group centre before the attack, the NIA said.

With his arrest, the total number of accused arrested in the case has risen to four, it said.

Andrabi's arrest came days after Nisar Ahmed Tantray, whose brother Noor Trali is believed to have helped revive the JeM in Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested by the NIA after being deported from the UAE in the same case.

Earlier last month, the NIA arrested Fayaz Ahmed Magray from Pulwama for allegedly being the "key conspirator" of the 2017 attack and accused him of providing logistical support such as shelter to the militants and conducting reconnaissance of the CRPF Group Centre, Lethpora before the attack.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-arrests-jem-operative-for-2017-terror-attack-on-crpf-camp/articleshow/68753102.cms

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Pakistan

 

Youth played role in success of war against terror: COAS

APRIL 7, 2019

A group of students from US Cornell University, who are on a visit to Pakistan, met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ on Saturday. While sharing experiences of their visit to Pakistan with the COAS, the students said Pakistan is a beautiful and peaceful country, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release.

The students have visited Lahore, Hunza valley and Islamabad. The COAS shared with the students his thoughts about Pakistan and its journey towards an enduring peace. He said the youth have an important role to play in every field as they are the future leaders. Referring to the vibrant youth of Pakistan, the COAS credited successes in the war against terror to the bravery and motivation of the junior leadership, besides their contributions to the national progress on the whole as part of the nation.

The students thanked the army chief and said they were taking back home the firsthand reality about a peaceful and beautiful Pakistan.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/373954/youth-played-role-in-success-of-war-against-terror-coas/

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Terrorist behind Daesh network held in Abbottabad

APRIL 7, 2019

The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) arrested a notorious terrorist running Daesh network here on Saturday. On an intelligence tip-off, the CTD conducted operation in Abbottabad city during which a terrorist identified as Mujeebur Rehman was arrested. The nabbed terrorist hailing from Karachi was involved in bomb blasts, target killings, bank robberies and other terrorist activities in Karachi and Punjab. The detainee was shifted to an undisclosed location for further investigation and according to CTD important revelations were expected.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/373969/terrorist-behind-daesh-network-held-in-abbottabad/

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Khalilzad thanks Pakistan for supporting Afghan peace process

Apr 07, 2019

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, wrapping up his visit to Pakistan, expressed his gratitude for putting forward efforts for the Afghan peace process.

Turning to twitter the envoy before heading back to the Afghan capital of Kabul announced his trip to the federal capital coming to an end and thanked Pakistan for efforts to support the neighboring country on the road to peace.

“Just wrapped up two days in #Islamabad. Thanked #Pakistan for recent efforts supporting the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” he stated.

He also expressed gratitude “for re-affirming the understanding that ultimately Afghans, and Afghans alone, will determine their future. Always more work to be done.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad

@US4AfghanPeace

Just wrapped up two days in #Islamabad. Thanked #Pakistan for recent efforts supporting the #AfghanPeaceProcess and for re-affirming the understanding that ultimately Afghans, and Afghans alone, will determine their future. Always more work to be done. Back to #Kabul!

1,170

6:41 PM - Apr 6, 2019

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Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/04/06/khalilzad-thanks-pakistan-for-supporting-afghan-peace-process/

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Marriyum accuses NAB of ‘state terrorism’

Apr 07, 2019

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), accusing it of perpetuating “state terrorism” by conducting raids at Punjab Assembly lawmaker Hamza Shehbaz’s residence in Model Town.

Marriyum said, “NAB is continuing with its state terrorism in violation of the Lahore High Court order.”

She also labeled the current accountability drive a bid to a ploy to distract people from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s incompetence.

“This is no law, this is state terrorism to arrest people. Imran Khan is using NAB for state terrorism. First, they used to stand atop containers and do terrorism and now they are standing on opposition’s heads and scaring them,” she alleged.

She also claimed NAB was not acting independently, saying then Prime Minister Imran Khan, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Punjab Chief Minister’s Spokesperson Shahbaz Gill would not be speaking for the watchdog.

Furthermore, the PML-N spokesperson rejected claims that Hamza’s guards resorted to violence during Friday’s raid.

Meanwhile, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair said that when the NAB team had arrived yesterday, Hamza had told them that a Lahore High Court order “clearly stated” that if NAB were to arrest Hamza “they would notify him ten days prior to arrest”.

Zubair said that if NAB believes they have legal grounds to execute the arrest despite the court’s order, they should have gone to the high court yesterday and clarified it.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/04/06/marriyum-accuses-nab-of-state-terrorism/

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Fawad regrets ‘decades wasted’ to muzzle extremism

Apr 07, 2019

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Saturday congratulated Pakistan-origin economist Asim Khwaja for his appointment as faculty director of Harvard’s Kennedy school and regretted the economist’s resignation from the country’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) in September last year.

The information minister lamented that Khwaja would have been part of the country’s economic advisory team had Pakistan “not wasted two decades and muzzled extremism”.

Ch Fawad Hussain

@fawadchaudhry

 Congs ⁦⁦@aikhwaja⁩ for appointment as faculty director of the Center for International Development at Harvard Kennedy School, had we not wasted two decades and muzzled extremism you would have been part of Pak economic Revival team..  https://www.hks.harvard.edu/announcements/asim-ijaz-khwaja-appointed-faculty-director-center-international-development-harvard …

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12:31 PM - Apr 6, 2019

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Asim Ijaz Khwaja appointed faculty director of the Center for International Development at Harvard...

CAMBRIDGE, MA—Harvard Kennedy School has named Asim Ijaz Khwaja as the faculty director of the School’s Center for International Development (CID). Khwaja serves as the Sumitomo-Foundation for...

hks.harvard.edu

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In 2018, Khawaja was included in the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government. However, he resigned in protest after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government decided to withdraw the nomination of renowned economist Dr Atif Mian due to opposition from religious groups including Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).

On April 5, The Harvard Kennedy School named Pakistan-origin economist Asim Ijaz Khwaja as the faculty director of the school’s Centre for International Development (CID).

Khwaja is also the Sumitomo-Foundation for Advanced Studies on International Development Professor of International Finance and Development at the Harvard Kennedy School, Co-Director of Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), and co-founder of the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP).

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/04/06/fawad-regrets-decades-wasted-to-muzzle-extremism/

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Pakistan, KSA making efforts to portray true image of Islam: Fawad

 April 07, 2019

Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain has said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are making joint efforts to portray the true soft image of Islam before the world.

In an interview with Saudi newspaper, "Al-Riyadh", he said Saudi Arabia is playing an important role for the integrity of Muslim Ummah, safeguarding it from prevailing threats.

He said Saudi Arabia maintained strong defence and security ties with different countries in the region and on world level, which helps promote unity among the Muslim Ummah.

Fawad Chaudhry said Islamabad enjoys warm cordial relations with Riyadh and Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman played a vital role in reducing the tension between Pakistan and India.

http://www.radio.gov.pk/07-04-2019/pakistan-ksa-making-efforts-to-portray-true-soft-image-of-islam-fawad

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Arab World

 

Hundreds of US-Backed SDF Fighters Join Syrian Army in Hasaka

Apr 06, 2019

"Over 200 SDF fighters have recently defected and surrendered to the Syrian Army in Hasaka province," the battlefield sources in Hasaka province reported.

The sources reiterated that the Kurdish forces have forced over 1,000 young people in Hasaka to join the SDF over the past month by conducting large-scale arrests and raids in areas under their control in Raqqa, Manbij, Hasaka and Deir Ezzur.

The sources pointed to people's discontent and anger from the Kurdish forces' measures, and said that a group of civilians have recently engaged in fierce clashes with the SDF members in an SDF garrison in Northern Hasaka.

In a relevant development in late February, a number of senior commanders and the SDF defected in Hasaka province and were transferred to areas controlled by the Syrian army in the region.

The Arabic-language al-Arabiya news website quoted informed sources in Hasaka as saying that 15 SDF fighters, including their senior commanders, defected the group.

They added that the defected SDF members escaped to the regions controlled by the Syrian army inside Hasaka city, noting that the SDF put on alert its forces after the incident.

In a relevant development earlier in February, tens of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces defected the SDF ranks and joined the Syrian Army while 100 others received government amnesty.

"Over 40 SDF forces have defected in Raqqa and joined the Syrian Army after laying down their arms in al-Tabaqa in Western Raqqa," the Arabic-language service of the Russian Sputnik News Agency reported.

It noted that over 100 youth in Raqqa had also received amnesty after leaving the SDF-controlled areas for government-held territories.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980117000674

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US Army Sends New Military Convoy to SDF-Controlled Areas in Eastern Euphrates

Apr 06, 2019

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the US-led coalition has sent a new military convoy comprising 60 trucks packed with military vehicles as well as logistic and military aid along with 10 oil tankers from Iraq's Kurdistan Region to the SDF-controlled regions in Eastern Euphrates.

The SOHR, meantime, said that the US has dispatched over 560 trucks carrying military equipment to Eastern Euphrates after declaring end of the ISIL in that region.

In a relevant development earlier this month, media reports revealed that Washington had dispatched new military aid to the SDF in Eastern Euphrates after it said mission has been accomplished in the war on ISIL.

The SOHR reported that the US-led coalition had sent new military convoys, including tens of trucks carrying military aid and logistic equipment, from Iraqi Kurdistan region to the areas occupied by the SDF in Eastern Euphrates.

It added that nearly 400 trucks, carrying vehicles and military and logistic equipment of the US-led coalition had arrived from Iraq in Hasaka bases and Kharab Ashk in Kobani in Northern Aleppo.

Last month, Washington-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria declared their final victory over the ISIL terrorist group, ending bloody battle against the group that once held territory spanning a third of Syria and Iraq.

The US Defense Department also announced that the Islamic State no longer holds any territory in Syria, according to former White House Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

In December 2018, US President Donald Trump declared the ISIL terrorist group defeated in Syria and announced American troop pullout from the country but gave no timeline. The surprise announcement resulted in the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, US anti-IS coalition envoy Brett McGurk and Pentagon Chief of staff Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney who disapproved of the American president's decision.

But last month, the American leader confirmed that 400 US soldiers will remain in the war-torn country indefinitely. Notably, Trump did not give any credit to the Syrian Army, Russia and other allies for reducing the self-styled caliphate to its current miserable state.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980117000518

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Turkish Army, Kurdish Forces Resume Clashes in Aleppo

Apr 06, 2019

The Kurdish-language Hawar News website reported that the Turkish Army and its allied militants heavily pounded the fighters of Al-Bab Military Council in al-Baqouz Village from Olashli Village in the city of Al-Bab.

Meantime, Kurdish Xber24 news website reported that the so-called Afrin Liberation Forces have attacked the Turkish Army's positions in Northern Aleppo from Ma'are and Kaljabrin, and confirmed that heavy clashes are continuing between the two sides in Sheikh Issa village in Ma'are region.

This comes as the exact number of casualties from both sides has not been announced as yet.

In a relevant development earlier this week, it was reported that the Turkey-backed militants were still continuing to detain civilians and plunder historical artifacts in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo.

The Hawar News quoted sources in the village of Simalka in Mobata region in Afrin as saying that the terrorists affiliated to Ankara excavated the regions near historical monuments in Hasiyeh hill in the Western parts of the village with heavy vehicles to find artifacts.

Also, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that over 2,680 civilians in Afrin have been detained by the Turkish army and affiliated militants, adding that they receive over 10mln Syrian lira for releasing the detained people.

Meantime, field sources in Afrin said that the local people are angry with the Turkish army and affiliated militants' measures in the region, adding that nearly 100 residents of the village of Marimin gathered near one of the military bases in the village and prevented the Turkish army's drilling operations to develop the base.

In a relevant development late last month, people in Northern Aleppo demanded the occupying Turkish forces to leave the region as tensions and insecurities had sorely increased in the region.

Hawar News reported that people in Northwestern Aleppo, specially Jarablus, al-Bab, A'azaz and Afrin regions, were growingly calling for the withdrawal of occupying forces.

The report said people were printing graffiti on walls and hold sporadic protest rallies to call for the Turkish army's retreat.

It added that the local people were furious with exacerbating security conditions resulting from increasing infighting among the Turkish army and their affiliated militants as well as their attempts to blackmail the civilians.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980117000597

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Syrian Army Pounds, Destroys Terrorists' Positions in Hama

Apr 06, 2019

The Syrian Army's artillery and missile units hit the military positions of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in the city of al-Ankavi and the town of al-Hawiz in Northern Hama, destroying a number of their hideouts and concentration centers as well as killing several militants.

The Syrian Army's artillery units also pounded the terrorists' movements in the towns of Shehr Naz in Shahshabou Mountains, the surrounding areas of al-Maziq Castle, al-Sohriyeh and al-Hawija in Western Hama, killing and wounding a large number of them as well as destroying their military equipment.

In a relevant development on Friday, the Syrian army destroyed the key strongholds of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at in response to the terrorist group's attacks from the demilitarized zone on safe areas and military points in Hama and Idlib.

The Syrian army units responded to the terrorists' missile strikes on residential areas in the town of Mahradeh in Northern Hama which killed and wounded several civilians, with artillery and missile fire, smashing Tahrir al-Sham strongholds in the towns of Kafr Zita and al-Hawir in the Northern parts of Sahl al-Ghab in Northern and Northwestern Hama and leaving several militants dead.

Meantime, the Arabic-language service of Sputnik reported that the army troops launched artillery attacks on terrorists' moves and positions in al-Tah, al-Tamane'ah, al-Khuwain, al-Zarzour and Khan Sheikhoun in Southeastern Idlib, destroying several positions of the terrorists.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980117000378

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UK, US and France pushed militants for chemical attacks in Syria: Official

Apr 6, 2019

A Syrian official has lashed out at Britain, France and the United States over warning Damascus against using chemical weapons, saying the three countries are fully responsible for pushing terrorist groups to use toxic chemical materials in the crisis-plagued Arab country.

The unnamed official at the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates told Syria’s official news agency (SANA) on Saturday that it was no longer a secret that the trio had encouraged foreign-sponsored Takfiri outfits to stage chemical attacks in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun, the cities of Douma and Aleppo and more recently in the northern village of al-Rasif.

The official went on to say that a Friday joint statement by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was intended to prepare the global public opinion for potential chemical attacks in Syria.

He further noted that the three top diplomats were resorting to cheap propaganda and flawed policies in a bid to allay suspicions about their countries’ support for terrorist groups, which have killed many people and wreaked havoc in Syria.

The official highlighted that the US, France and Britain had funneled munitions and large sums of money to terrorists outfits and the so-called civil defense group White Helmets that has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false-flag gas attacks, adding that such acts were indicative of their lies.

The official stressed that these countries, which had used chemical weapons in their former colonies and against nations who fought for their freedom, sovereignty and independence, were not entitled to accuse the incumbent Syrian government of using chemical weapons.

“The use of white phosphorous bombs by the US to kill civilians in Dayr al-Zawr province, and destroy Syrian towns and cities, including Raqqah, offer unequivocal evidence for the shameful behavior of these three countries,” the official pointed out.

The official stressed that Syria’s accession to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and its full commitment to the Chemical Weapons Convention were convincing proof that the Damascus government would not use chemical weapons anywhere, anytime or under any circumstances.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/04/06/592749/UK-US-and-France-pushed-militants-for-chemical-attacks-in-Syria-Official

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US-led coalition says allies foil Daesh prison break

April 06, 2019

BEIRUT: Daesh militants attempted to break out of a detention facility in northeastern Syria but U.S-backed Syrian fighters "successfully" restored calm and accounted for all the detainees, activists and the U.S-led coalition said Saturday.

Few details emerged about what transpired a day earlier in the detention facility in the town of Derik, in the Kurdish-administered northeastern Syria.

Activists from the Rojava Information Center said local anti-terror forces were deployed Friday around the building and on its roof after the attempted prison break. The activist-run media platform said warplanes flew over the facility.

Col. Scott Rawlinson, coalition spokesman, said all detainees were accounted for after the Syrian Democratic Forces "peacefully" dealt with the incident. He said coalition forces supported the SDF with aerial observation but provided no further details.

SDF officials had no immediate comments.

The Kurdish-led SDF is holding hundreds of foreign Daesh militants in facilities around areas they control in northeast Syria. Many more local suspects are detained separately. It was not clear if the attempted break-out was among foreign or local detainees. Families of the detainees are held in crammed displaced people's camps in northern Syria, where living and security conditions have been precarious.

Officials from the Kurdish-administered areas have said keeping the hundreds of foreign militants and their families is a "burden" that they can't handle on their own. The officials and the coalition have asked home countries to repatriate their nationals — an issue that has triggered a debate in many European countries who cite security concerns.

"The SDF understand well the threat posed by Daesh and are performing commendably in maintaining the security of the detainees in their custody," Rawlinson said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1478571/middle-east

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