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Islamic World News (18 Aug 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI Chairman Sworn In As 22nd Premier of Pakistan













Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was on Saturday sworn in as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan in a simple ceremony hosted at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.

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Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI Chairman Sworn In As 22nd Premier of Pakistan

Muslim Couple Denied Swiss Citizenship over Handshake Refusal with Opposite Sex

Senior Saudi Cleric Taken Away For ‘Secret Trial’

Israel Kills Three Palestinians, Injures 240 and Empty ‘Al Aqsa’ Of Worshippers

US Sanctions Myanmar Military Commanders Over Rohingya Abuses

NIA Arrest of 2 Youths for ‘IS Links’ another Case of Demonisation Of Muslims: Katju

 

Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI Chairman Sworn In As 22nd Premier of Pakistan

Muslim Clerics In Pakistan Honour Late Cardinal Tauran

British PM agrees to work with Imran Khan's govt to root out money laundering

COAS says Pakistan not supporting Afghan militancy

Navjot Singh Sidhu arrives for Imran’s oath-taking

Pakistanis Protest Dutch MP's Plan to Publish Cartoons of Prophet

Four-member deputation from Pakistan attends Vajpayee’s funeral

Imran clean bowls Shahbaz to become PM

Shahbaz set to become opposition leader in National Assembly

Opposition demands parliamentary commission to probe polls ‘rigging’

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Europe

Muslim Couple Denied Swiss Citizenship over Handshake Refusal with Opposite Sex

Fraser Anning and Bob Katter's Anti-Muslim Cry Is About Comfort, Not Survival

Manchester mosque denies 'military jihad' support

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Arab World

Senior Saudi Cleric Taken Away For ‘Secret Trial’

Egypt Finalizing Details of Long-Term Hamas-Israel Truce

Iraq Says Its Air Force Hit Islamic State Militants inside Syria, Killing 28

Iraq’s Al-Fayad Of ‘Popular Mobilization’ Potential Candidate To Succeed Abadi

US committed to expel Iran and its allied militias out of Syria

Saudi Arabia shoots down ballistic missile fired by Houthi terrorists

Bolton to discuss Iran, Syria in talks with Russian counterpart

Egypt to close Rafah border crossing during Eid Al-Adha

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church calls on 'unrecognised monasteries' to submit to church authority

Islamic State strikes the Druze

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Mideast

Israel Kills Three Palestinians, Injures 240 and Empty ‘Al Aqsa’ Of Worshippers

35 Houthis Killed In Clashes in Al-Jawf, 5 Military Vehicles Destroyed

Israeli gunfire kills 2 Gaza border protesters

Saudi air defence intercepts Houthi missile targeting Najran

Coalition airstrikes target Houthi bases in Yemen’s West coast

Yemenis condemn ongoing war led by Saudi Arabia

Israeli settlers chop down 200 Palestinian olive trees in West Bank village

Yemeni civilians trapped as Saudi ramps up attacks on Hudaydah

UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions: Minister

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North America

US Sanctions Myanmar Military Commanders Over Rohingya Abuses

US Creates 'Iran Action Group' To Up Pressure on Tehran

Turkey says will respond if US imposes more sanctions

US ready to hit Turkey with more sanction if pastor not released: Mnuchin

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India

NIA Arrest of 2 Youths for ‘IS Links’ another Case Of Demonisation Of Muslims: Katju

Imam Detained For Holding Friday Prayer sans Permit

One killed in grenade attack by terrorists in J&K

Pakistan dailies laud Vajpayee’s contribution to peace process

Delhi: Muslim Ola driver found dead, row over his cremation

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South Asia

Taliban Chief Invites US to Talks to ‘Reach Understanding’ To End the Ongoing War

Myanmar, Bangladesh Agree To Remove 'National' Tag from Rohingya ID Cards

Bangladeshi terrorist group growing in International level

South Asian Islamists gain ground in Philadelphia

Ghani orders in-depth review of conspiracies surrounding the attack on Ghazni

Afghan Taliban attend peace talks in Indonesia

American model Gigi Hadid pays visit to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, shares pictures

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Southeast Asia

Taliban, Indonesian Officials Hold Talks On Afghan Peace

Anwar Backs Banning Books That Insult, Ridicule Islam

Ibrahim Ali, ex-Umno man forms Putra to champion Bumi rights

Clerics look to sting Indonesian 'jellyfish' sect

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Africa

UMSC Urges Government to Employ Muslim Teachers

UN releases a damning report revealing how terrorist activities are funded across Africa

El-Rufai sponsoring hate speech campaigns against us – Shi’ites

Buhari refused to pay Boko Haram to release Leah Sharibu – Fani-Kayode

Nigerian soldiers demand break from Boko Haram

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/prime-minister-imran-khan--pti-chairman-sworn-in-as-22nd-premier-of-pakistan/d/116147

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Prime Minister Imran Khan: PTI chairman sworn in as 22nd premier of Pakistan

August 18, 2018

PM-elect Imran Khan has taken oath as the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan at a ceremony being held at the President House.

Khan, who outvoted opposition and PML-N candidate Shahbaz Sharif in the PM's election on Friday, was administered his oath by President Mamnoon Hussain.

After taking the oath as premier, Khan and his wife stepped down the stage to greet various guests.

The oath-taking ceremony, which was scheduled to begin at 9:30am, started a little after 10am.

Clad in a black sherwani, the prime minister-elect arrived at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (the President House) in Islamabad from his Banigala residence. His wife Bushra Imran had already arrived for the ceremony.

The ceremony commenced with the national anthem, followed by recitation of verses from the Holy Quran.

High-profile guests including caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan and Naval Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi are present at the ceremony.

Other notable guests present at the Aiwan-e-Sadr include senior PTI leaders, former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu, cricketer-turned-commentator Rameez Raja, legendary paceman Wasim Akram, newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrarul Haq, actor Javaid Sheikh and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.

The invited guests, which include politicians, cricketers and celebrities, were told to be at the venue at 9:15am. The event was scheduled to begin at 9:30am.

Khan, who famously captained the national cricket team to World Cup glory in 1992, has also invited some of his former teammates to witness his formal ascension to the top ministerial job in the country.

According to the programme outlined on the invitation cards, the ceremony will begin with the national anthem, following which the cabinet secretary will seek permission from the president to commence the ceremony.

Next up will be recitation (tilawat) of the Holy Quran, after which the oath will be administered and documents signed.

The guest have been asked to carry their NIC or accreditation cards but not to bring with them any handbags, purses, mobiles phones or any other electronic gadgetry.

The work begins

After the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party's parliamentary committee members rubber-stamped Khan's candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

The party formed enough alliances and recruited enough independents to gain the numbers required to get Khan elected as the PM in Friday's parliamentary vote.

Khan and his party campaigned on promises to end widespread graft while building an “Islamic welfare state”.

“First of all, we will start strict accountability. I promise to my God that everyone who looted this country will be made accountable,” he said in his speech as PM-elect on Friday.

PTI candidates were also voted speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly this week, putting Khan in a strong position to carry forward his legislative agenda.

He will face myriad challenges including militant extremism, water shortages, and a booming population negating growth in the country, among others.

Most pressing is a looming economic crisis, with speculation that Pakistan will have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.

Khan will also have to contend with the same issue as many predecessors: how to maintain a power balance in civil-military relations.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427560/prime-minister-imran-khan-pti-chairman-sworn-in-as-22nd-premier-of-pakistan

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Muslim couple denied Swiss citizenship over handshake refusal with opposite sex

Aug 18, 2018

The Swiss city of Lausanne has blocked a Muslim couple’s bid to become Swiss nationals over their refusal to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.

The municipality said it refused to grant the couple’s citizenship application over their lack of respect for gender equality, Lausanne mayor Gregoire Junod told AFP.

He said a municipal commission had questioned the couple several months ago to determine if they met the criteria for citizenship, but had determined in the ruling made public Friday that they missed the mark on integration.

He refused to divulge the couple’s nationalities or other identifying details, but said they “did not shake hands with people of the opposite sex.”

They also “showed great difficulty in answering questions asked by people of the opposite sex,” he said.

Some devout Muslims argue that Islam does not permit physical contact with a person of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members.

Junod pointed out that freedom of belief and religion is enshrined in the laws of the Canton of Vaud, which encompasses Lausanne.

But “religious practice does not fall outside the law,” he stressed.

His vice-mayor, Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand, who was on the three-member commission that questioned the couple told AFP he was “very satisfied with the decision” to deny the couple’s application.

“The constitution and equality between men and women prevails over bigotry,” he said.

The couple has 30 days to appeal the decision, Junod said.

This is not the first time refused handshakes have stirred tensions in Switzerland.

In 2016, there was national uproar over revelations that a middle school in the north of the country had allowed two Syrian brothers not to shake their teachers’ hands after they complained that doing so was counter to their religious beliefs if the teacher was a woman.

This ran counter to a deeply entrenched Swiss tradition of students shaking their teacher’s hands as a sign of respect, and amid the outcry regional authorities quickly overruled the school’s decision.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/muslim-couple-denied-swiss-citizenship-over-handshake-refusal-with-opposite-sex/story-qicjBg6Yp0OdKGn6z6RXII.html

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Senior Saudi cleric taken away for ‘secret trial’

Aug 17, 2018

A hugely-popular Saudi Sunni cleric, who has been imprisoned since last year for critiquing the kingdom’s policies, is reportedly taken away to attend a “secret trial.”

Salman al-Odah’s son announced the development on Twitter on Wednesday, saying his father had told him about being transferred “suddenly” from Zehban Prison in the port city of Jeddah to al-Ha’er Prison in capital Riyadh.

Abdullah Odah also cited a prison official as telling him that his father had been referred to the trial, adding, “In such a trial, no one is allowed to attend and there does not seem to be any real due process.”

“We do not trust secret and sudden trials, held without any disclosure of information, and without the presence of lawyers or independent organizations, without clear charges. We hold the government fully responsible for my father’s safety," Abdullah tweeted.

Abdullah also said he had tried to enquire about his father from prosecuting authorities, but they had told him that the matter was out of their hands and within the jurisdiction of the “security apparatus.”

The 61-year-old scholar, who has many millions of followers on Twitter, has been in jail since last September after he expressed hope for the resolution of the diplomatic crisis between the kingdom and Qatar. Four months earlier, the kingdom had led three of its allied states in breaking off their ties with the emirate.

Odah’s family have told the Middle East Eye news portal that “the scholar was held in solitary confinement in his Jeddah prison and was denied medical care and family visits for months,” the MEE reported.

His detention came as part of an arrest spree ordered by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of members of the royal family, heavy-weight businessmen, scholars, and rights activists.

The purge has been widely criticized by human rights groups as a means of solidifying Salman’s grip on power in the run-up to his ascendancy to the country’s rule.

Separately, a Twitter account reporting on Saudi “prisoners of conscience” reported the detention of Dr. Ahmad al-Amari, the former head of Medina Qur’an Academy. The activists said Amari had been nabbed for his close ties to Sheikh Safar al-Hawali, another outspoken Saudi scholar, who has likewise been imprisoned.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/17/571430/Saudi-Arabia-scholar-secret-trial-Salman-alOdah-Mohammad-bin-Salman

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Israel kills three Palestinians, injures 240 and empty ‘Al Aqsa’ of worshippers

17 August 2018

In the latest flare-up of tension between Israel and the Palestinians, three Palestinians were killed and 240 injured by Israeli fire on the 21st Friday of protests near the Gaza border, as part of the ‘Return March’ to break the siege of Jerusalem and Al Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

According to medical sources, Karim Abu Fattair (30) was killed after being shot by the Israelis east of al-Bureij, while another was reported dead and 240 others were injured in Gaza.

In the meantime, Al Arabiya news channel reported that a Palestinian was shot dead in occupied Jerusalem, on the pretext of trying to carry out a stabbing attack.

Israeli forces reinforced troops in the area of the claimed attack and said they were searching for other suspects there, and removed all worshipers from the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The compound is a frequent flashpoint of Israeli-Palestinian tensions., which have  surged in the past few months.

At least 170 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli fire in weekly border demonstrations. Israel says Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, is using the protests as cover for cross-border attacks. Hamas denies this.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and a bid by the US administration to restart them has so far shown little sign of progress.

Palestinians want to establish a state in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally and maintains control over more than half the West Bank, where the Palestinians have limited self-rule.

Meanwhile, Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security source said on Thursday, amid easing tensions on the border of the enclave where some two million Palestinians live.

Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Eid al-Adha feast which starts next week. Read more

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/17/Israel-kills-three-Palestinians-injures-240-and-empty-Al-Aqsa-of-worshippers.html

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US sanctions Myanmar military commanders over Rohingya abuses

August 18, 2018

WASHINGTON - The US government on Friday hit four Myanmar military commanders and two military units with punitive sanctions, accusing them of “serious human rights abuses” and “ethnic cleansing” in violently expelling minority Rohingya from their homes.

Military and border guard commanders Aung Kyaw Zaw, Khin Maung Soe, Khin Hlaing, and Thura San Lwin were accused of leading violent campaigns against the Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state as well as minorities in Kachin and Shan states.

“Burmese security forces have engaged in violent campaigns against ethnic minority communities across Burma, including ethnic cleansing, massacres, sexual assault, extrajudicial killings, and other serious human rights abuses,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence in the US Treasury, which announced the sanctions. The US Treasury said the sanctions on individuals were meant as a warning to security forces to cease abuses of ethnic and religious minorities and to respect their rights.

The sanctions, which seek to lock those named out of global financial and commercial networks and freeze any overseas assets they have, were brought under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, a US law originally targeting Russia but now expanded to punish rights abusers worldwide.

Aung Kyaw Zaw was singled out for having presided over the operations that drove some 700,000 Rohingya from their homes in Rakhine state, in southwest Myanmar, and into neighboring Bangladesh since 2016.

The campaign has been marked by numerous extrajudicial killings, rape and burning of villages by security forces.

Khin Maung Soe was in charge of a command which participated in a massacre of Rohingya on August 27, 2017 in Maung Nu, where soldiers “reportedly beat, sexually assaulted and summarily executed or otherwise killed dozens of Rohingya villagers,” the Treasury said.

Thura San Lwin was the leader of the Border Guard Police, allegedly responsible for extrajudicial killings, sexual violence and assault against various minorities.

And Khin Hlaing was singled out for abuse of Kachin, Shan and Chinese minorities who in November 2016 were forced to serve as human shields for his military unit in battles with militias.

The two military units also sanctioned for involvement in those abuses were the 33rd Light Infantry Division, which participated in Rohingya abuses, and the 99th Light Infantry Division, which was led by Khin Hlaing.

“There must be justice for the victims and those who work to uncover these atrocities, with those responsible held to account for these abhorrent crimes,” said Mandelker.

“We will continue to systematically expose and bring accountability to human rights abusers in this region and many others and greatly appreciate the efforts of civil society who are doing the same.”

https://nation.com.pk/18-Aug-2018/us-sanctions-myanmar-military-commanders-over-rohingya-abuses

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NIA Arrest of 2 Youths for ‘IS Links’ another Case of Demonisation Of Muslims: Katju

August 17, 2018

New Delhi: Justice Markandey Katju is the former Chairman, Press Council of India. Prior to his appointment as Chairman, Press Council of India, he served as a Judge at the Supreme Court of India. Before being elevated as a judge to the Supreme Court, he had earlier served as the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Madras High Court and as acting Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court.

He said that “Muslims have been demonised as terrorists and fanatics, they are often falsely implicated in incidents of terrorism. When a bomb blast or such other incident takes place, the police is often unable to apprehend the real culprit.”

He posted a lengthy note on his official Facebook account on 15t August, the Independence Day.

He wrote “In Hyderabad, the NIA ( National Investigation Agency ) has arrested two Muslim youth, Mohammed Abdullah Basith ( 24 ) and Mohammed Abdul Qadeer ( 19 ) for ” allegedly conspiring to further the IS ( Islamic State ) ideology to carry out terrorist activities in India “. It is alleged that they were in touch with one Adnan Hassan who is facing trial in the 2016 ISIS module case.

From what I could make out, this is just another instance of the doctrine ‘guilty by association ‘which has been rejected and held invalid by the Supreme Court of India in Sri Indra Das vs State of Assam following its earlier decision in State of Kerala vs Raneef ( 2011) and several decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court e.g. Elfbrandt vs Russell ( 1966 ). In Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee vs McGrath ( 1951 ) Mr.Justice William Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court observed ” in days of great tension when feelings run high it is a temptation to take shortcuts by borrowing from the totalitarian techniques of our opponents, but when we do so we set in motion a subversive influence that destroys us from within.

Perhaps these youth will be released after spending 20 years in jail, during which they will have to undergo terrible tortures, until they are ultimately found innocent by the Court, as happened to Nisaruddin Ahmed (who spent 23 years in jail before the Supreme Court found him innocent), Amir (who spent 14 years in jail before his acquittal) and several others.”

Earlier in 2013, he lashed out at media for running a media trial right after any bomb blast. He said “Whenever a bomb blast or such incidents take place, within an hour or so, many TV channels start showing that an email or SMS claiming responsibility has come from the Indian Mujahideen or JeM or Harkatuljihad-e-Islam or some Muslim name. An email or SMS can be sent by any mischievous person. But when your start screening this on TV and next day in print, the certain message you (media) are sending is that all Muslims are terrorists and they had nothing to do except to throw bombs. You are demonising the entire Muslim community and promoting communalism.

https://www.firstpost.com/india/nia-arrest-of-2-youths-for-is-links-another-case-of-guilt-by-association-demonisation-of-muslims-writes-markandey-katju-4975921.html

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Pakistan

 

Muslim Clerics In Pakistan Honour Late Cardinal Tauran

August 17, 2018

Muslim clerics in Pakistan's Punjab province paid glowing tributes to late French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran at a special mourning service held in Lahore on Aug. 12.

Cardinal Tauran, the former president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, died in the United States on July 5 at the age of 75 after spending years battling Parkinson's disease.

He visited the Islamic Republic eight years previously and made a strong impact due to his efforts to promote inter-faith harmony.

"This is our loss. We are saddened by the death of the cardinal, who spent his life among people like us," Allama Zubair Abid said at the service.

"About 15 years ago such interfaith gatherings were impossible in Pakistan. We respect anyone who promotes peace and reject extremism regardless of their faith," he added.

Allamu was one of about a dozen Muslims who joined the congregation at the city's Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The solemn ceremony started with a recitation from the Quran by Qari Khalid Mehmood of the Punjab Assembly and ended with the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.

During his trip to Pakistan in 2010, Cardinal Tauran met former president Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad. He urged him to pardon Christian mother Asia Bibi, who had been sentenced to death under the nation's strict blasphemy laws.

Two years later, he voiced his support for Rimsha Masih, a Christian Pakistani girl who suffered from Down syndrome and who was arrested for allegedly burning a copy of the Quran.

In Lahore, the prelate inaugurated the Dominican Peace Center at a ceremony attended by leaders of the Catholic Church and the (Protestant) Church of Pakistan as well senior Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Bahais.

He later rubbed shoulders with Muslim and other clerics at a meeting organized by Lahore Archdiocese's National Commission for Inter-religious and Ecumenism.

In the wake of that trip, staff at the Peace Center regularly mailed greetings translated into Urdu to Muslim leaders to mark Eid, an important Muslim festival marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Cardinal Tauran also offered six-month scholarships to three Muslim educators who studied about Christianity at the Vatican.

Sohail Ahmad Raza, director of interfaith relations at Minhaj-ul-Quran International, an NGO founded in 1980, shared some memories of that visit.

"One day I walked into a church wearing a cap. The congregation asked me to remove it in honor of the Cardinal but he saw what was happening and allowed me to keep wearing it," he told ucanews.com.

"He was a compassionate and humble person. We shall miss his message of love at future Eid celebrations."

Lahore Archbishop Sebastian Shaw said the late cardinal was famous for never forgetting people's names. He remembered all the Muslim visitors he received from Pakistan even as he battled old age and poor health.

"I know he also felt much pain for the suffering of Rohingya Muslims [in Myanmar and at the refugee camps in Bangladesh]," the archbishop said.

"His final trip to Saudi Arabia was focused on laying a strong foundation for closer ties between the Holy See and Riyadh. We have lost a true champion of inter-religious dialogue."

https://www.ucanews.com/news/muslim-clerics-in-pakistan-honor-late-cardinal-tauran/83086

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British PM agrees to work with Imran Khan's govt to root out money laundering

Fahad Chaudhry

August 17, 2018

Hours after Imran Khan was elected the new prime minister of Pakistan, his British counterpart Theresa May called him to congratulate and offer her best wishes.

The British PM, during her telephonic conversation with Pakistan's PM-elect, said that her government is ready to further improve Pak-British relations.

"We are ready to open new avenues of partnership with Pakistan," May told Khan. "We will fully assist the new government."

Khan, after thanking May for her call, said that he hopes to work with the British government to root out the menace of money laundering.

"Money laundering is a severe problem for developing countries," he said. "To stop this we want to work with foreign governments, especially Britain's."

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427579/british-pm-agrees-to-work-with-imran-khans-govt-to-root-out-money-laundering

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COAS says Pakistan not supporting Afghan militancy

Aug 18, 2018

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday reiterated that there was no support to any terrorist activity inside Afghanistan from Pakistan, adding that claims regarding the return of injured and dead terrorists from Ghazni to Pakistan were incorrect, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Expressing concerns over the recent wave of violence in Afghanistan and loss of innocent lives, the army chief said there were scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan in connection with various businesses/ labour who periodically fell victim to terrorism acts alongside their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan.

“Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate,” said the statement, while further adding that different factions of TTP, hiding in many sanctuaries inside Afghanistan, under Afghan identities on becoming injured/ dead, were transported into Pakistan for medical help.

Additionally, Afghan refugees and their relatives also resort to similar practices.

“COAS stands by his commitment to Afghan president for ensuring all measures which could facilitate peace in Afghanistan,” said the statement, adding, however, COAS re-emphasised that Afghanistan needed to look inward as the problem resided there.

“The solution thus remains on making substantive progress on Afghan reconciliation efforts as well as on the speedy implementation of Afghanistan Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Stability (APAPPS).”

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/08/18/coas-expresses-concern-over-recent-surge-in-terrorism-in-afghanistan/

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Navjot Singh Sidhu arrives for Imran’s oath-taking

Aug 18, 2018

LAHORE: Former Indian cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu arrived in Pakistan on Friday to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Saturday.

Singh arrived in Lahore from Wagah border from where he left for Islamabad to meet Imran Khan.

On August 13, Sidhu was seen visiting Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi. After the visit, Sidhu had said that he had applied for permission from the Indian government and that his travel to Pakistan depended on the permission by GoI.

PTI leader Faisal Javed had announced on August 10 that cricket legends from India Kapil Dev, Navjyot Singh Sidhu, and Sunil Gavaskar have been invited to attend oath-taking ceremony.

Kapil Dev had refused to attend the ceremony citing ‘personal reasons’. On August 12, Gavaskar had conveyed to Khan that he would not be able to attend the event as he had prior work commitments.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/08/17/navjot-singh-sindhu-to-arrive-in-pakistan-for-oath-taking-ceremony/

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Pakistanis Protest Dutch MP's Plan to Publish Cartoons of Prophet

August 17, 2018

ISLAMABAD —

Between 200,000 and 300,000 protesters in Pakistan's capital Islamabad threatened to surround and pelt the Dutch embassy with stones for allowing a far-right member of parliament to hold a cartoon contest depicting Islam's Prophet Mohammad.

The protesters broke through several barriers put up by the police, though they could not get close to the embassy, which is housed in a highly protected diplomatic enclave along with most other embassies.

Led by local leaders from an Islamist party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), the demonstrators demanded that their government break their diplomatic relationship with the Netherlands.

"We want the Dutch embassy to be closed, the ambassador to be sent back, and to call the Pakistani ambassador back from the Netherlands," said Zaheer Sultan, who had come from out of town for the protest. He said he was not called by any political party.

"I do not belong to any party and no one asked me to come here," he said. "I use Facebook where I saw a couple of videos and then contacted those pages to find out about today's protest."

At one point, protesters demanded their government write a letter to the United Nations asking the organization to extract an apology from the Dutch government.

Dutch MP Geert Wilders announced in June he would hold a competition at his party's parliamentary offices later this year. He said the country's counterterrorism agency had approved his plans.

Famous for his anti-Islam rhetoric, Wilders previously has called for the Quran to be banned, and he declared Islam a totalitarian ideology.

Many Muslims consider visual depictions of their prophet blasphemous. Cartoons of the prophet have caused violence in the past.

In 2015, Islamist gunmen attacked a French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris for printing cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. Twelve people were killed.

Ten year earlier, protests broke out around the world when Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first published cartoons of Prophet Mohammad. One of the cartoons showed the prophet with a bomb in his turban.

The party leading the protest, TLP, gained nationwide fame last year when it blocked the capital for almost a month over an issue related to the prophet.

In elections last month, the party fielded hundreds of candidates on national and provincial assembly seats. While it only won two seats in the provincial assembly of Sindh and none in the national assembly, the high number of votes it received in many constituencies surprised pundits.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-protest-dutch-mp-plan-to-publish-prophet-cartoons/4533448.html

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Four-member deputation from Pakistan attends Vajpayee’s funeral

AUGUST 18, 2018

A four-member delegation from Pakistan attended last rites of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi on Friday.

The members of the delegation included caretaker law and information minister Ali Zafar, foreign office delegates Dr Muhammad Faisal, Dr Fareeha Bugti and director to Law Minister Daniyal Gilani.

Other foreign dignitaries, who paid their last respects to Vajpayee at Smriti Sthal in Delhi, included Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, Sri Lanka acting Foreign Minister Lakshman Kiriella, King of Bhutan and others.

Vajpayee, who died aged 93, was cremated with full state honours at Smriti Sthal in Delhi. The former premier had battled poor health for years but his condition had deteriorated sharply in recent days, with doctors placing him on life support.

He was being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, where he was admitted nine weeks ago.

Vajpayee, who was born in 1924 in Gwalior, was among the founding members of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

He first became the prime minister of India for only 16 days – May 16-31, 1996 – and was re-elected PM in March 1998, where he remained in office until May 13, 2004.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/285148/four-member-deputation-from-pakistan-attends-vajpayees-funeral/

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Imran clean bowls Shahbaz to become PM

August 17, 2018

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan was elected Pakistan's 22nd prime minister on Friday, marking the pinnacle of his 22-year-long political career.

Khan clinched victory with 176 seats while his opponent, PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, secured 96 votes in the polling that took place in the National Assembly today.

As the newly elected speaker of the assembly, Asad Qaiser, announced the results, the House erupted with chants of "na manzoor" [unacceptable] and "Wazir-i-azam Nawaz Sharif" [PM Nawaz Sharif]. The protests by PML-N leaders continued nearly all the way through the session despite the speaker's attempts at restoring order in the House.

Khan, in the meantime, sat smiling in his seat, accepting congratulations from his party members.

The speaker had suspended the proceedings of the National Assembly for 15 minutes after the crucial announcement due to the persistent sloganeering of PML-N legislators. Announcing the suspension of proceedings, Assembly Speaker Qaiser asked parliamentary leaders to come to his chamber.

When the session resumed, the speaker asked the PM-elect to address the House as protests — by PML-N — and cheering — by PTI — continued.

'Only Jinnah struggled more than I did'

Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan, in his first speech following his victory, promised "the change that this nation is starving for".

"We have to have strict accountability in this country; the people who looted this country, I promise that I will work against them," he asserted.

"I did not climb on any dictator's shoulders; I reached this place after struggling for 22 years. Only one leader struggled more than me, and that was my hero, Jinnah. Twice every month I will answer to the people during the question-answer session in the assembly."

"The money that was laundered, I will bring it back — the money that should have gone towards health, education, and water, went into people's pockets," said a charged Khan, moving on to address allegations of election rigging.

"I want to ask the people who are yelling here why they didn't investigate the four constituencies that I asked for.

"Why didn't they investigate then? Why didn't they hold people accountable? Why didn't the [PML-N] government take action?"

"When I was asking for investigation, these people accused me of being a planted by the establishment," Khan continued.

"We [government] will cooperate with you [PML-N] even if you want to take your complaints to the Supreme Court. You can make as much noise as you want or even hold a dharna — we will provide you the container and food for it."

Khan's oath-taking ceremony will take place tomorrow.

The former cricketer was tipped as the 'PM-in-waiting' soon after the July 25 polls in which PTI won more seats than other political parties.

'We will hold you accountable'

A visibly disconcerted Shahbaz Sharif then took the microphone, focusing primarily on the allegations of rigging in the July 25 polls.

"Throughout the world, newspapers and outlets are raising accusations of rigging in the general elections," he said.

"This is the worst election in history in terms of rigging; the authorities must act against those responsible."

"What kind of election was this?" he questioned amidst loud chants echoing across the hall.

"The Result Transmission System (RTS) [on the night of July 25] was forcefully shut down. What kind of elections were these that the results were delayed for 48 hours?"

Alleging that 1.6 million votes were rejected, he questioned the discovery of ballot papers from gutters and streets across the country.

The former Punjab chief minister urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to "submit a report before this House" adding that "the clauses that need amendment in the Election Act 2017 must be amended so no one can rob the vote of its sanctity".

He threatened that opposition parties would "take to the streets" if a commission was not formed and justice not served.

Reminding the PM-elect of a promise he had made in his first address to the nation after the July 25 polls, Sharif said: "Khan sahab, you had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif's government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes."

Clarifying the party's stance and objectives, he said: "We came here for the sake of democracy and to protect the democratic system. There have been movements in the past and we have always stood by this House."

"No matter what we do, we will not curse this parliament, we will not attack this parliament," he added.

Sharif refused to conclude his speech "in protest" after being silenced by the speaker so that Bilawal Bhutto could also address the House.

'Khan will have to go through us if he continues fanning flames of hate'

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, in his first address to the National Assembly, delivered a measured and mature speech in English.

Although he said it was his "honour to become a part of this house", the 29-year-old criticised the "two biggest parties for creating a ruckus" in the parliament.

He remembered those who lost their lives in terror attacks in Peshawar and Quetta in the run-up to the July 25 polls.

Bilawal said that his party had its reservations over both the pre- and post-polling procedures but still "decided to be a part of this house to support this fragile democracy."

"If it weren't for us Mr Speaker, you wouldn't have your seat and the PM would not have his," he added.

"We would have been facing a constitutional crisis and we must assess what it cost for Khan sahab to get here. We mainstreamed extremism, we compromised on our basic rights, we pitted one Pakistani against another," he continued.

"Our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs, ends poverty."

"I would like to ask Khan sahab ─ who said that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF and beg for alms ─ what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis."

"It is hurtful that Pakistan, which has sacrificed so much in the fight against violent extremism, is seen as a part of the problem and not as part of the solution," he went on.

"I am sure the new government will take the [necessary] steps. However Khan sahab got here, Mr Speaker, he is now the prime minister of this worthy nation."

"I want to remind him that he is not one party's prime minister. He is the prime minister of all Pakistanis ─ even those he called living corpses, the ones he called donkeys, the ones he referred to as sheep and goats."

"As prime minister, I hope Imran Khan will drop the hateful rhetoric. If he continues to fan the flames of hatred, he will have to go through us and he will find us opposing him at every step of the way," he vowed.

"If the prime minister-elect makes constitutional supremacy and human development his priorities, we will stand by his side," he added.

"I congratulate the prime minister-select," he concluded, with his use of the word "select" possibly referring to allegations of poll engineering.

Following Bilawal's speech PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi also addressed the newly formed parliament.

He accused the PML-N of breaking the agreement that the opposition and the ruling parties had made to allow Khan to deliver his full speech.

"Every party stood by its word except the PML-N," Qureshi said. "Of course why would they? The session was being broadcast live so there was a photo opportunity.

"Imran Khan wanted to say that 'I will present myself in front of the nation'. He wanted to invite everyone to sit together but sadly you did not have the courage to listen to him."

Qureshi then struck a conciliatory tone and asked the opposition to "play the role of a constructive opposition.

"Let's change our behaviour towards each other. We will try to incorporate your criticism in our policies. We must also have the courage to listen to criticism."

"We are aware of the challenges that the country is facing. We will solve them together."

Lawmakers arrive, session begins after delay

The session kicked off around 4:30pm ─ an hour later than expected ─ with all lawmakers seated under the chairmanship of the assembly speaker. The delay was attributed to overcrowding in the press gallery, according to media reports.

Khan arrived at parliament well ahead of the scheduled polling time. By 3:30pm, Sharif had also arrived at the venue, but did not make an appearance in the assembly until after 4:14pm.

Sharif, flanked by other PML-N MNAs, walked into the House with a black band around his upper arm in protest against alleged rigging in the election.

Despite the PPP's boycott of today's vote, chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was also in attendance.

Shahbaz shook hands with both Imran and Bilawal on his way to the benches.

PML-N protests

As the session opened, PML-N's Murtaza Javed Abbasi took strong issue with the manner in which "the sanctity of the House was violated".

"The voting for PM has not even started yet and the sanctity of House is already being violated, we register protest," he said, adding: "The government that was installed by khalai makhlooq has not even taken power yet."

NA Speaker Asad Qaiser attempted to restore order in the House as PML-N leaders voiced their objections to what they alleged was "engineering" in the July 25 polls.

As disturbance rippled through the House, Qaiser warned lawmakers that he would expel anyone who disrupted the session.

Chanting and sloganeering continued as the speaker read out the procedure for election of the prime minister and then the names of the two nominees. He directed those voting for Khan to the lobby on his right, and those voting for Sharif to the lobby on his left.

According to DawnNewsTV, PML-N leader and former assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq had made a last-minute attempt to convince PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari ─ whose party earlier announced it would abstain from voting ─ to support Shahbaz Sharif as voting was underway.

After the newly elected MNAs finished casting their votes for the two contenders, a count took place and Khan was announced as the victor.

The two contenders

After the PTI emerged as the biggest parliamentary party in the wake of the July 25 polls, all 120 of the party's parliamentary committee members rubber-stamped Khan's candidacy for the post of the prime minister.

The PTI had, on its own, bagged 116 NA seats in the election before recruiting nine additional independents, which took its tally to 125.

The party was subsequently allotted 33 reserved seats by the Election Commission of Pakistan last week, which sent its tally to 158.

However, that tally was trimmed as Khan, a winner on five NA seats, kept only his Mianwali seat and vacated the other four. Ghulam Sarwar Khan and Tahir Sadiq also had to leave one of the two NA seats they had bagged each, cutting PTI's lead by six.

PTI Spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had earlier claimed that his party, with the help of its allies, had garnered the support of 180 plus NA members — at least eight more than required for a simple majority and enough to get Khan elected PM in the first poll. However, PML-Q, a key PTI ally, has also seen its quartet of NA seats reduced by half as their party leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi — a candidate for the Speaker of Punjab Assembly — also vacated both his seats in the lower House of the parliament.

The PTI's perceived struggle in establishing its dominance had offered a glimmer of hope to Shahbaz Sharif — the opposition's joint candidate for the PM's gig.

The decision to nominate him was made as part of an agreement between the three main opposition parties — the PML-N, PPP and the MMA-P — during an All Parties Conference.

However, less than 24 hours before the election, PPP decided to “abstain” from today’s vote due to refusal of the PML-N to replace its candidate, making the contest a one-sided affair.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1426772/imran-clean-bowls-shahbaz-to-become-pm

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Shahbaz set to become opposition leader in National Assembly

Syed Irfan Raza

August 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif is set to become the leader of the opposition in the country’s 15th National Assembly as 111 MNAs have nominated him for the slot.

Speaker Asad Qaiser told the house on Friday that he had received Mr Sharif’s nomination as the opposition leader signed by 111 members from the opposition benches.

The leader of the opposition will be notified on Monday.

While the Pakistan Peoples Party had abstained from voting for Shahbaz Sharif for the office of prime minister, it appeared that some PPP lawmakers had also recommended Mr Sharif as the opposition leader.

The PPP has a total of 43 MNAs.

The total strength of the PML-N in the house is 82 followed by the Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal (15) and the Awami National Party (one).

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427708/shahbaz-set-to-become-opposition-leader-in-national-assembly

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Opposition demands parliamentary commission to probe polls ‘rigging’

Syed Irfan Raza

August 18, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Soon after Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan was elected 22nd prime minister of the country on Friday, the opposition demanded formation of a parliamentary commission to investigate alleged rigging in the July 25 general elections.

The opposition parties said they had come to parliament despite rejecting the election results just for the sake of supremacy of democracy and parliament, but warned the newly elected prime minister that they would continue their agitation inside and outside parliament if their demand was not met.

However, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) announced that it would support Imran Khan if he worked for the betterment of the people and the country.

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) president Shahbaz Sharif, who is believed to be the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, delivered his speech amid uproar by the ruling PTI and focused on allegations of rigging in last month’s polls.

He received a similar response from the PTI legislators as his party’s members earlier staged a protest and did not allow Imran Khan to smoothly address the house for the first time after becoming prime minister.

“Throughout the world, newspapers and outlets are raising accusations of rigging in the general elections,” Mr Sharif said, adding that this was the worst election in the country’s history in terms of rigging and the authorities must act against those responsible. “What kind of election was this?” he asked amidst loud chants echoing across the assembly hall.

He alleged that the Result Transmission System (RTS) had been forcefully shut down [on the night of July 25] so that presiding officers could not transfer the results of their polling stations promptly to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). “What kind of elections were these that the results were delayed for 48 hours?”

Alleging that 1.6 million votes were rejected, he questioned the discovery of ballot papers from gutters and streets across the country. Mr Sharif asked the ECP to submit a report before the house and said the clauses in the Elections Act 2017 that needed amendment must be amended so that no one could rob the sanctity of vote. He warned that the opposition parties would take to the streets if the parliamentary commission was not formed and justice was not done.

Reminding Imran Khan one of his promises he had made in his first address to the nation after the July 25 polls, Mr Sharif said: “Khan Sahib, you had said that if rigging in 2013 elections would be proven, Nawaz Sharif’s government should resign. We will not let you run from this. We will hold you accountable for stealing votes.”

Clarifying his party’s stance, he said: “We came here for the sake of democracy and to protect the democratic system. There had been movements in the past and we have always stood by this house. No matter what we do, we will not curse this parliament; we will not attack this parliament.”

The PML-N chief refused to conclude his speech in protest after his mike was switched off by the speaker so that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari could also address the house.

Later, the PPP chairman mesmerised the house with his maiden speech on the floor of the house and urged Imran Khan to be the prime minister of the whole country and not a single political party. “Now you are the prime minister of those you have called donkeys, goats, sheep and corpses.”

In his measured and mature speech in English, Bhutto-Zardari said his party would support the new prime minister if he worked for the betterment of the people and the country. Although he said it was his honour to become a part of this house, the 29-year-old politician criticised the two biggest parties for creating a ruckus in parliament. He was the only speaker who remembered those who had lost their lives in terror attacks in Peshawar and Quetta in the run-up to the July 25 polls.

He said the PPP had its reservations over both the pre- and post-poll procedures, but still decided to be a part of the house to support the fragile democracy. “We would have been facing a constitutional crisis and we must assess what it cost for Khan Sahib to get here. We mainstreamed extremism, we compromised on our basic rights, we pitted one Pakistani against another,” he added.

Reminding Mr Khan his 100-day manifesto, the PPP chairman said: “Our prime minister-elect has promised a 100-day roadmap. I want to see how he creates 10 million jobs and ends poverty. I would like to ask Khan Sahib who said that he would rather commit suicide than go to the IMF and beg for alms what his plan will be to deal with the economic crisis.”

Talking about the country’s foreign policy, he said: “It is hurtful that Pakistan, which has sacrificed so much in the fight against violent extremism, is seen as a part of the problem and not as part of the solution.”

He urged Imran Khan to “end” the politics of criticism and blaming each other and said: “As prime minister, I hope Imran Khan will drop the hateful rhetoric. If he continues to fan the flames of hatred, he will have to go through us and he will find us opposing him at every step of the way. If the prime minister-elect makes constitutional supremacy and human development his priorities, we will stand by his side.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1427715/opposition-demands-parliamentary-commission-to-probe-polls-rigging

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Europe

 

Fraser Anning and Bob Katter's anti-Muslim cry is about comfort, not survival

Yassir Morsi

18 Aug 2018

As my family thinks about its place in Australia, again I wonder if Fraser Anning imagines himself as brave. He regarded his speech as loosening the gag of political correctness and cultural Marxism. And, yet gagless, he only retold the most repeated cliché about Australia being under risk from Muslims.

He did not bring to the surface an uncomfortable or new truth. His maiden speech in parliament was mostly a testimony to a far-right fragility. For, his Australia’s feigned vulnerability before Muslims (who make up 2% of the population) comes from a deep-seated sense of entitlement.

The folly about the loss of this country’s culture, despite its obsessive control and militarisation of its borders, masks a true absurdity. Some straight white Christian conservative men feel marginalised. It takes a while for me to understand how. But, the slightest of disturbances in their universe has now led them to consider a “final solution”. Such first-world fragility is beyond belief for most of humanity who survive in wretched conditions. But that a faux vulnerability turns apocalyptic at the slightest encounter with cultural change is scary.

I can hardly imagine how such frail characters would endure if they tried leading the life of a Muslim immigrant fleeing Syria.

As a Muslim who grew up with the images of war on terror, I constantly have two recurring daydreams. I see the drone image produced by RT, a television network funded by the Russian government. It shows a fly over a destroyed Damascus suburb, and the grey ghost-like area of the capital full of ruined buildings with only their frames remaining. It fills me with guilt. There is also another image that returns, of a three-year-old lifeless Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on a Turkish beach. It fills me with pain. Before these horrors, I cannot understand how some in this vast and overprotective country, which has had a forced hand in the real destruction of life in Afghanistan and Iraq, can see Muslims only through the lens of their own western civilisation’s supposed loss. Why is it repeatedly about the Muslim as a fictional threat and not the concrete reversal? I doubt if the likes of Anning ever ask themselves whether white men in suits standing in parliament with speeches about “solutions” are a proven threat to so many of us people of colour?

We have to ignore plenty of recent Australian history, if not all, to explain the delusion of Anning’s absurd worries. Despite his and Bob Katter’s posture of holding up to an imaginary cultural Marxism, which he misreads as a Gramscian call to take over culture, the truth is their far-right brethren name for leftists best characterises the pair’s politics. Its built on snowflakes.

The slenderest burden of social stress – such as violence by a minor percentage of immigrants – becomes unbearable. It brings about Katter’s meltdown as well as demands from him to win back the country’s non-existent ideal past. I do not doubt that in their mind their concerns are real. But Australia is not experiencing a crisis about its racial identity. Such absurdity should be ignored. Their stress simply results from an interruption to what is racially familiar to them.

Consider their call to reinstate a white racial serenity to an already dominant white society. Their cry is about comfort, not survival. In the dominant position for so long, this brand of Australian conservative white male was essentially always racially comfortable. History has spoilt them. Now they grumble at how there are too many kebab shops and have developed unchallenged expectations to remain “pure”. They have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort. They did not have to learn to survive like Indigenous Australians had to. They need not value tolerance like Muslims in Australia who must tolerate their ritual complaints.

Perhaps the issue is that these men who fear a loss of their country to immigrants enjoyed an unconscious right to a true belonging to Australia. The country instilled this racial belonging through a whiteness embedded in its culture. Everywhere they looked, they saw their racial image as the country’s image. Their heroes and their teachers and their sporting characters reflected their race. They saw themselves throughout history as winners, not colonisers. They even saw themselves as a blue-eyed god.

It is rare for the Anning type of conservative white Christian man to experience a sense of not belonging. Hence, their entitlement becomes naturalised and taken for granted. Any interruption to this is destabilising and frightening to them. They respond as if something is wrong in the universe and look for grand external narratives that triggered their discomfort. It leads to an outrageous retaliation made up of no facts and plenty of agitation.

They dislike the slightest sense of feeling disorientated. Their insistence on comfort (often at the expense of saving immigrant lives) proves one thing at least. Their concerns trivialise the tale of inhumanity towards people of colour. It falsifies the accuracy about what cultural genocide means. And, it is not like they have to go far to know what it means.

It is because they cannot think through racism and its history with accuracy. It is because they never have to ask themselves what true safety might mean for an African-Australian looking for a restaurant in Melbourne at night.

I do not know how many times we have to hear the white boy cry Muslim wolf.

I do not know how this country’s politicians and commentators can keep degrading and beating up on Muslim immigrants and asylum seekers, and maintain their posture of humanity.

For, I believe the moral compass in us all would much prefer a country built on the character of brave souls who sacrifice all to make a new life. Who would not favour that courage and will to survive, to be the backbone of any country, rather than the self-assumed bravery of men in suits who hide behind parliamentary privileges to play the victim in a factless rant? Who would prefer a country of spoiled whingers who confuse comfort with safety and who confuse a negligible loss of white straight male Christian privilege as a fight for their entire nation’s survival?

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/18/fraser-anning-and-bob-katters-anti-muslim-cry-is-about-comfort-not-survival

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Manchester mosque denies 'military jihad' support

17 August 2018

A mosque where the Manchester Arena bomber worshipped denies encouraging people to "fight in any military struggle" following a BBC report.

A sermon by Imam Mustafa Graf at Didsbury Mosque in 2016 called for the support of fighters in Syria, according to two Muslim scholars.

It was delivered six months before Salman Abedi killed 22 people after an Ariana Grande concert.

Mr Graf declined to be interviewed but denied preaching Islamic extremism.

Didsbury Mosque said it had "launched an investigation into the sermon to identify any issues raised by the BBC report" as part of its regulations.

The sermon was held in December 2016 when the Syrian city of Aleppo had been caught in a brutal four-year deadlock.

Prayers were said for the mujahideen - a term often used to describe Islamist fighters.

Mr Graf is heard saying: "We ask Allah to grant them mujahideen - our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq - to grant them victory."

Elsewhere, he says: "Lots of brothers stayed behind unfortunately. They love Islam and Muslims but they do nothing for the support of their brothers and sisters."

He also remarks: "Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation."

At one point Mr Graf is heard saying: "The whole world, including Europe, America - what is the so-called civilised world - is watching what is happening in Aleppo and Syria.

"They know that Iran, Russia and the militias are killing humans in Syria and they do nothing.

"Well in fact they helped the Russians and the Iranians and others, the militias, to kill Muslims over there."

What does jihad mean?

The word "jihad" is widely used, though often inaccurately

In Arabic, the word means "effort" or "struggle"

In Islam, it could be an individual's internal struggle against baser instincts, the struggle to build a good Muslim society, or a war for the faith against unbelievers or oppressors

A mujahideen is a term usually used for someone who engages in the latter form of jihad

Muslim jurists agree there are conditions for armed jihad, says Dr Emman El-Badawy, a counter-extremism expert, including that it can only be declared by a Muslim leader, not an individual, and only enemy combatants are legitimate targets, not innocent civilians

Abedi and his family regularly attended Didsbury Mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer.

The recording the BBC obtained is of Friday prayers six months before the attack, although the family's whereabouts on the day of the sermon are unknown.

The BBC has been told Abedi bought a ticket for the concert he bombed 10 days after the sermon took place.

In a Facebook post, Didsbury Mosque said it believed the BBC investigation was "a misleading report, out of context, which appears to create an association between the criminal act of Salman Abedi and a dated sermon at the mosque."

"The Friday sermon in question took place shortly after chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime against innocent men, women and children of Aleppo."

It said the sermon was encouraging people "to pray to God to help those victims of oppression".

Shaykh Rehan Ahmed Raza, who is a Muslim scholar, said there were "no ifs and no buts" that Mr Graf was referring to "being on the battlefield".

Usama Hasan, head of Islamic studies at the Quilliam think tank that focuses on counter-extremism, said the sermon was "clearly referring to military jihad, to armed jihad".

Didsbury Mosque said: "The term jihad was used in its wider meaning; 'to strive and struggle' and in this case aid to those being oppressed. There was no call for any military Jihad (qital).

"Nor was there any comment which could in anyway be construed to suggest that Britain or British people should be targeted or attacked. The focus was on the behaviour of the Syrian regime and its victims.

"Didsbury Mosque does not encourage anyone to go and fight in any military struggle."

Mr Graf denied he had called for armed jihad.

A spokesman from the BBC press office said: "We stand by our journalism."

Greater Manchester Police said: "We have been handed the material from the BBC following their broadcast and will now review it to establish if any criminal offences have been committed."

Full report at:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-45221035

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Arab World

 

Egypt finalizing details of long-term Hamas-Israel truce

17 August 2018

Egypt is finalizing details of a long-term truce deal between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian security source said on Thursday, amid easing tensions on the border of the enclave where some two million Palestinians live.

Cairo has brokered an interim truce that has allowed commercial goods into Gaza ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha feast which starts next week.

“We are putting the final touches to the terms of the truce that will be signed by all sides, and we expect to announce the terms next week if Fatah helps us to do so,” the source said, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s mainstream party which dominates the occupied West Bank.

Officials from Fatah have not joined those of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and other Palestinian factions for the talks in Cairo on the long-term truce.

But Fatah’s backing is crucial for any deal as the party retains a large presence in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and has overall control in areas under Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

“The period of calm will be for one year, during which contacts will be held to extend it for another four years,” the source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A long-term truce could pave the way for talks on other issues, including the easing of a blockade that has crippled Gaza’s economy and allowing a possible swap of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

The source said Egyptian intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, was expected to meet Abbas in Ramallah after similar talks in Israel, and a deal could be announced by next week. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Kamel had met with Netanyahu in Israel this week, but gave no details.

A Palestinian source in Ramallah said Kamel has left without seeing Abbas, who had been preoccupied with a Palestinian leadership conference. But the source said Abbas had informed Egypt that Fatah representatives would join the Cairo talks later this week or next week.

Easing Blockade

Apart from the opening of its Kerem Shalom commercial crossing into Gaza, Israel also expanded the enclave’s fishing zone, in waters under Israeli naval blockade, from three to nine nautical miles off the southern coast and to six nautical miles in the north, according to the head of Gaza’s fishermen’s union.

The Egyptian security source said the extended truce would also include opening a sea lane from Gaza to Cyprus under Israeli supervision.

A Palestinian official in Gaza familiar with the talks said Palestinian factions were demanding a “total lifting of the blockade on Gaza, opening all crossings with Israel and Egypt and a water corridor”.

Israel says its blockade is a self-defense measure against Hamas, a group that has called for its destruction.

Israel’s security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, discussed the Gaza situation on Wednesday and an Israeli “diplomatic official” said Hamas would have to prove its commitment to the truce.

As well as wanting calm along the border, Israel has said Hamas must return the remains of two soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war and release two civilians whose fate is unknown. It says they are being held by Hamas in Gaza.

“That’s the only way,” Israeli Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a member of Netanyahu’s security cabinet, said on Thursday when asked if a broad arrangement depended on the return of the soldiers’ bodies.

“Nothing will be done to enable (Gaza’s) significant rehabilitation and the improvement of infrastructure and ports and other such fantasies, unless they release the bodies and the two Israeli captives,” he told Israel radio.

The Egyptian security source said the long-term truce would also envisage Israel freeing hundreds of detained Palestinians in a prisoner swap.

However, the Palestinian official denied any talks were taking place on a swap, saying Hamas opposed mixing the issues.

Egypt has brokered a Palestinian reconciliation agreement that provides for Hamas to cede control of Gaza to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. A dispute over power-sharing has hindered implementation of the deal, but the Egyptian source said Cairo was still seeking progress on the issue.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/17/Egypt-finalizing-details-of-long-term-Hamas-Israel-truce.html

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Iraq says its air force hit Islamic State militants inside Syria, killing 28

Aug 17, 2018

Iraqi security officials said their air force carried out two strikes targeting Islamic State group inside Syria, killing at least 28 militants.

They say one of the two airstrikes by F-16s targeted a meeting of would-be suicide bombers who intended to strike in Iraq during next week’s Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.

About 20 militants were killed in that airstrike, while eight died in the second one. Both targets were inside Syria near the Iraqi border.

Iraq announced the strikes on Thursday but details on targets and casualties only emerged on Friday. The statement said the targets were identified by the Eagles Cell, Iraq’s top counterterrorism agency.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/iraq-says-its-air-force-hit-islamic-state-militants-inside-syria-killing-28/story-UtP5G8MuSk6Eh7WSuci4NP.html

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Iraq’s al-Fayad of ‘Popular Mobilization’ potential candidate to succeed Abadi

17 August 2018

Special sources close to the process of forming the Iraqi government, revealed that the name of Faleh al-Fayad, head of the National Security, who is also chairman of Popular Mobilization Forces, as a candidate to lead the new Iraqi government.

Al-Fayad, who belongs to the Dawa party, has been the national security adviser since 2011, replacing Safaa al-Sheikh. Despite the legal ban, al-Fayad set up a political movement to enter the parliamentary elections last May.

The media leaks about al-Fayad’s candidacy coincide with the news of his dismissal from the presidency of the national security apparatus, while maintaining his position as chairman of the Popular Mobilization Forces.

It is noteworthy that the National Security apparatus despite its sensitivity was subjected to a major infiltration by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, ahead of the 2010 elections, through appointments allocated to the clan of al-Maliki and al-Fayad and Hadi al-Amiri (head of the Badr Organization), and their respective party followers in the parties, during 2011 and 2012.

In a celebration at the headquarter of the National Security last December to announce Iraq’s victory over ISIS, expelling the extremists group from all urban centers including second city Mosul in a vast military campaign, prime minister Haidar al-Abadi expressed his resentment of turning the headquarter to a tribal and sectarian directorate, and called to keep away any political or sectarian or tribal influence out of the security services.

The special sources pointed out that the differences between al-Abadi and al-Fayad may lead to a political  earthquake in the al-Nasr alliance led by Haidar al-Abadi, who won 42 parliamentary seats in the recent legislative elections.

The sources indicated that al-Abadi will lose about 30 seats of his coalition, in the event of a mass withdrawal led by Faleh al-Fayad, who heads the Ataa bloc in the list of al-Nasr, as well as deputies belonging to al-Fadila party and others..

According to the sources, the parliamentary members who willl withdraw will join efforts led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to form the largest bloc.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/17/Iraq-s-al-Fayad-of-Popular-Mobilization-potential-candidate-to-succeed-Abadi.html

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US committed to expel Iran and its allied militias out of Syria

17 August 2018

The US States department announced on Friday that it is committed to expel Iran and its allied militias out of Syria.

The US State Department official said there will be no global reconstruction funding for Syria until a “credible and irreversible” political process led by the United Nations is underway, l said on Friday as the United States moved to redirect millions in stabilization funding.

The State Department also announced that former US ambassador to Iraq Jim Jeffrey will serve as a special adviser to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Syria overseeing talks on a political transition in that country.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/08/17/US-says-no-rebuilding-funds-for-Syria-until-peace-talks-underway.html

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Saudi Arabia shoots down ballistic missile fired by Houthi terrorists

August 18, 2018

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi militia toward the southern city of Najran.

The attack is the latest in a series of missile launches targeting densely populated residential areas of Saudi Arabia, including Jazan and Najran, close to the border with Yemen.

Saudi-led Arab coalition’s spokesman, Col. Turki Al-Maliki, said that Saudi aerial defense forces intercepted a missile launched by the Iran-backed militia.

Al-Maliki said that the missile targeted Najran and was aimed at civilian populated areas, but the defense forces were able to intercept and destroy the projectile without any casualties.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1358211/saudi-arabia

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Bolton to discuss Iran, Syria in talks with Russian counterpart

August 18, 2018

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton will discuss arms control treaties and Iran’s role in Syria in talks with Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Geneva next week, an administration official said.

The meeting is a follow-up to Trump’s controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July.

Trump held a one-on-one meeting with Putin during that summit and drew criticism for siding with Moscow over US intelligence findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. He later corrected his assessment about Russia’s role.

The White House has not released many details about Trump’s meeting with Putin. But the official offered a list of items he said the two men discussed.

The leading topic of their conversation was the war in Syria, he said, including Iran’s role there and the humanitarian situation in the country.

The two agreed in principle that the Iranians should exit Syria but Russia saw that as a tough task, the official said.

Trump and Putin discussed arms control, including the New START treaty and the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which banned nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km.

The official said the leaders did not agree on a way forward on arms control, however.

Bolton is a critic of the New START treaty, agreed during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration.

Trump also raised the issue of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Germany, which he has criticized sharply, with Putin, the official said.

Directly after his meeting with Putin, which lasted more than two hours, Trump briefed Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Jon Huntsman, the US ambassador to Russia, about their meeting for about 15 minutes, the official said.

Many topics they discussed were raised again in the larger group meeting that followed, the official said.

Syria is expected to be on the agenda when German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany on Saturday.

Merkel on Friday confirmed an announcement by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of plans for a summit with the leaders of Russia and France, but she said no date had been set yet.

Although Syria peace talks should broadly be led by the UN and other established groupings, Merkel said such a four-way summit “could make sense.”

“It must be well prepared, that’s why no date has been set yet,” she told a Berlin joint press conference with Montenegro’s Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.

“But we will arrange for advisers to hold a preparatory meeting and then decide whether it makes sense to hold such a meeting together.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1358226/middle-east

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Egypt to close Rafah border crossing during Eid Al-Adha

17 Aug 2018

Egypt will close its Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip for several days during the Islamic Eid Al-Adha holiday.

According to state agency MENA, the border will be closed on Friday and Saturday, and will reopen on Sunday 19 August.

It will then close on Monday 20 August, the day before the three-day Eid Al-Adha festival, and reopen on Saturday 25 August.

The Rafah border crossing is the main gateway to the outside world for 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, and is the only crossing point not controlled by Israel.

Egypt usually keeps the border crossing closed citing security concerns, opening it periodically for short periods, often including major Islamic holidays.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/309830/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-to-close-Rafah-border-crossing-during-Eid-Al.aspx

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Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church calls on 'unrecognised monasteries' to submit to church authority

17 Aug 2018

Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church has said “unrecognised monasteries” must regularise their status “spiritually, monastically and financially”, in the latest in a series of decrees on monastic life that come in the wake of the murder of an abbot inside a monastery last month.

In an official statement on Thursday, the church’s monastic affairs committee said that unrecognised monasteries that respond to the church's call will be “rebuilt divinely and spiritually” within the legitimate method of monasticism.

The statement said that unrecognised monasteries should first be registered under the name of the Coptic Orthodox patriarch, and will then be subordinate to whoever is sent by Pope Tawadros II for spiritual, financial, and managerial supervision of the monastery.

“There will be a return to the rules of monasticism in establishing a new monastery,” the statement stipulated.

The church stressed that those who refused to answer their call demonstrate a disobedience to the church and have intentions that do not relate to monasticism, and risk being defrocked.

The statement comes a few days after two monks were detained pending investigations into their alleged involvement in the murder of Bishop Epiphanius, the abbot of Abu Maqar monastery in Wadi El-Natroun.

One of the monks, now defrocked, has been linked to an unrecognised monastery, which several media reports attributed as one of the motives behind the alleged killing.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead inside the monastery on 29 July under what the church described at the time as “suspicious circumstances.”

Following the death of the bishop, the Holy Synod issued new decrees prohibiting monks from using social media, appearing on media outlets, and building non-sanctioned places of worship.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/309808/Egypt/Politics-/Egypts-Coptic-Orthodox-Church-calls-on-unrecognise.aspx

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Islamic State strikes the Druze

17 Aug 2018

After being defeated in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State (IS) group suddenly returned in force last month to strike one of the calmest regions of Syria, throwing another spanner into the country’s seven-year crisis.

On 25 July, 250 Syrians, more than half of them civilians, were killed after several suicide bombings targeted highly populated areas in the Sweidaa province in the south of the country.

The surprise attacks carried out by IS came weeks after Russia had signed settlement agreements with armed opposition factions in Deraa after military strikes by the Russian air force and pro-Iranian fighters.

During the IS attacks, the regime led by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad also carried out air strikes, but it did not use substantial weapons to change the course of the battles.

Local groups in the province tried to resist the IS attacks, but they suffered great losses before returning to their bases.

The majority of Sweidaa residents are Druze who have taken up a neutral stance throughout the Syrian Revolution, most Druze clerics having good relations with the regime while the local people generally support the opposition.

This has allowed the province to avoid the horrors that have visited areas where the opposition is present, though this neutrality has also raised many questions.

Although many Druze clerics have supported the regime, others have opposed it. Independent Druze leader Sheikh Wahid Al-Balos was killed in a car bomb on 4 September 2015 along with 28 of his supporters, for example, perhaps targeted because unlike traditional Druze leaders he was not appointed by the Al-Assad regime.

Al-Balos was the leader of the “Men of Pride” group, and he opposed the military draft for the Druze because the Druze communities are on the frontlines of the conflict.

He was able to protect some 27,000 young Druze who fled the draft, causing the regime to threaten to hand over the area to IS to the east.

His assassination should have been a watershed in the relationship between the Druze and the regime, but apart from a handful of demonstrations denouncing the assassination calm was quickly restored in the province.

Druze clerics warned against siding with the revolution or fighting on the side of the opposition, and those calling for avenging Al-Balos were silenced. Druze youth even began joining Al-Assad’s militias, which distanced them from the opposition and the rest of the Druze.

The Syrian Druze have chosen to remain neutral in order to avoid the wrath of the regime, with some claiming that this neutrality has kept their provinces safe so they can receive those who have been displaced or have fled from cities destroyed by the regime.

Some Druze leaders have justified their neutrality out of distrust of the opposition, which they accuse of being sectarian, even though there have been no sectarian incidents in Sweidaa by the armed opposition in nearby Deraa, who are Sunni Muslims.

IS quickly claimed responsibility for the Sweidaa attacks, but although IS fingerprints are evident in terms of force, the scale of human losses, and the timing, there have been suspicions that the regime was involved, along with its ally Iran and possibly even Russia.

This is due to the fact that in May the regime transported hundreds of IS combatants from Damascus to the suburbs of Sweidaa. It allowed militia leader Khaled bin Al-Walid, who has pledged loyalty to IS, to leave Deraa for Sweidaa and turned a blind eye to actions on the ground, including IS massacres.

Many believe the regime is taking revenge on the Druze in Sweidaa because the group’s elders have refused to allow its young people to volunteer in regime ranks.

Some 40,000 Druze are believed to have defected from the army or avoided the draft, and Sweidaa residents have also expelled regime representatives.

Up until now, however, the province was not a priority for the regime, and it was left relatively calm compared to the rest of Syria. There were checkpoints at the borders, and residents were blackmailed or terrorised, but few other actions were taken.

Russia is a suspect in the recent attacks because it failed in June to convince Druze leaders in Sweidaa to return to the embrace of the regime, indicating that force could be used to draft Druze young people into new military units overseen by the Russians.

There are also suspicions of Iranian involvement, since Iran has been trying to integrate into local communities and convince them that irregular militias, including Lebanese and Iraqi groups loyal to Iran, will protect them.

IS, believed to be the perpetrator of the attacks, wants to send the message that it is alive and well despite being defeated in most of Syria.

It chose a relatively stable region for the attacks because it did not expect resistance, and it also wants to spoil relations between the Druze and the regime in the hope that the Druze will start to fight and further polarise the region.

Some argue that the Druze have been close to the regime during the revolution because of the strong relationship between the two sides for decades when the regime promoted itself as the protector of religious minorities against the country’s Sunni majority.

After the revolution began, the regime promoted the dangers facing the Druze as a “targeted” minority, though it has not granted the Druze anything like what it has given the Alawites.

The regime has followed a strategy of divide and rule and of terrorising minorities. It has convinced the Alawites that it is their protector against Syria’s Sunnis, conjuring up historical fears.

It has also launched campaigns in the direction of the Christian clergy, aiming to convince their congregations that they are under threat and that Salafist groups want to expel them from Syria.

Many Christians have drawn closer to the regime as a result, and in the case of the Druze the regime has similarly played on fears about jihadists and armed opposition groups in Syria.

The opposition has not paid much attention to the country’s minorities, relying instead on verbal reassurances without real political action plans.

When the armed combat began in the wake of the revolution, this confirmed minority fears, and the wedge planted by the regime grew wider.

The Druze are not entirely integrated into Syrian society, and they have remained closed in on themselves and protective of their region.

Yet, even if IS carried out the attacks on Sweidaa, this does not absolve the regime of responsibility because of its allowing terrorists to infiltrate the area.

The regime has long benefited from the existence of IS, either to justify its war on the Sunni opposition, or to promote itself in the West as targeted by terrorist groups.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/309793/World/Region/Islamic-State-strikes-the-Druze.aspx

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Mideast

 

35 Houthis killed in clashes in al-Jawf, 5 military vehicles destroyed

17 August 2018

Thirty five Houthi militias’ members were killed in Al-Jawf governorate during intense battles with the Yemeni national army, while Arab coalition fighter jets destroyed five military vehicles belonging to the Iranian-backed militias.

This comes while the Yemeni army backed by the coalition in al-Jawf governorate seize control over several strategic mountains located in Wadi Salba.

The official spokesman of the first brigade border guards, Lieutenant Colonel Faisal al-Afraa, told Al Arabiya news channel that his forces carried out an attack on the most important Houthi sites in Wadi, and managed to control the mountains of Qishaan, Jala, Mifah and Machaqil.

Al-Afraa said that the militias suffered heavy losses in lives and equipment, and dozens of them fled, leaving behind a number of weapons.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/17/35-Houthis-killed-in-clashes-in-al-Jawf-Coalition-destroys-5-military-vehicles.html

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Israeli gunfire kills 2 Gaza border protesters

August 18, 2018

GAZA CITY - Israel troops on Friday shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border, the Palestinian health ministry in the enclave said.

The ministry named the dead men as Karim Abu Fatayer, 30, shot near the central Gaza Strip town of Bureij and Sadi Moamer, 26, killed near Rafah, in the south.

It said that both men were shot in the head.

At least 270 other Palestinians were wounded, 70 of them by gunfire, the ministry said. The Israeli military did not know of any deaths but said that troops had opened fire in border incidents.

At least 171 Gazans have been killed by Israeli fire since late March, mostly during border clashes and protests. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July. Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, including its Hamas rulers, have fought three wars since 2008 and tensions since late March have led to fears of yet another full-blown conflict.

There have been three intense flare-ups since July, the latest on Thursday, when Israel responded to some 180 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza with widespread air strikes.

An Israeli official said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that truce talks mediated by Egyptian and United Nations officials had reached an initial set of “understandings” leading to calm on the border over the past few days.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told AFP on Friday that a durable truce with Israel was near. “In my opinion, yes, we are nearing an agreement,” he said.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/18-Aug-2018/israeli-gunfire-kills-2-gaza-border-protesters

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Saudi air defence intercepts Houthi missile targeting Najran

18 August 2018

Saudi Arabia’s air defense forces intercepted on Friday evening a Houthi ballistic missile launched toward Najran, southwestern city in the Kingdom near the border with Yemen.

Last Saturday too air defense forces had intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Houthis toward the Kingdom’s southwestern Jizan region.

The Houthis has stepped up missile attacks on the kingdom in recent weeks.

The Yemeni legitimate forces have repeatedly stressed the continued involvement of the Iranian regime in supporting the Houthi militias and supplying them with rockets carrying qualitative capabilities, in clear defiance to United Nations Resolutions 2216 and 2231 in order to threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and destabilize regional and international security.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/18/Saudi-air-defense-intercepts-Houthi-missile-targeting-Najran.html

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Coalition airstrikes target Houthi bases in Yemen’s West coast

17 August 2018

Arab Coalition fighter jets launched violent airstrikes on Houthi military bases in West coast battlefronts, while Yemeni armed forces captured a Houthi leader in Hajjah on Friday.

A field source confirmed that the airstrikes targeted several locations in Bait al-Faqih district, south of the Hodeidah province, which resulted in the destruction of a number of the Houthi military vehicles and machine guns.

Yemeni armed forces announced the capturing of a Houthi leader in Hayran district in the province of Hajjah.

The leader’s name is Hamoud Ali Abdulla al-Hamzi, who said he joined Hayran’s front a week ago to lift the spirits of the fighters who were escaping the fronts, and to call on the leadership of the militias to not place children on the front lines of the fighting.

Meanwhile, Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Khalid bin Salman, said that Hezbollah’s presence in Yemen “confirms the Iranian regime has subcontracted the Houthi militias to be another one of its proxies. It proves the regime’s proxies work in tandem to undermine regional stability and prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/08/17/Coalition-airstrikes-target-Houthi-bases-in-Yemen-s-West-Coast-Front.html

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Yemenis condemn ongoing war led by Saudi Arabia

Aug 17, 2018

Yemeni people took to the streets of the capital Sana'a to condemn an ongoing war led by Saudi Arabia and its allies against their country. The demonstrators also expressed anger at the current economic crisis which the war has created in their country. Press TV's corespondent in Yemen, Mohammed Al-Attab, reports.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/17/571483/Yemenis-condemn-ongoing-war-led-by-Saudi-Arabia-

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Israeli settlers chop down 200 Palestinian olive trees in West Bank village

Aug 17, 2018

A group of Israeli settlers have attacked an orchard in the northern part of the occupied West Bank, and chopped down hundreds of fruitful olive trees.

Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official in charge of monitoring Israel's settlement expansion activities, said dozens of residents of Eli settlement broke into Wadi Ali area of al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya village, located 20 kilometers south of Nablus, early on Friday and cut down 200 trees.

Jewish extremist settlers from Yitzhar settlement torched a Palestinian bulldozer as it was traveling along a road linking Urif village to the town of Asira al-Qibliya.

Late on Thursday, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian house, punctured and damaged dozens of vehicles in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, located approximately 49 kilometers (30 miles) north of Jerusalem al-Quds.

Daghlas said Israeli settlers damaged some 40 Palestinian vehicles by throwing rocks and empty glass bottles at them.

The developments came only a few hours after an unidentified 60-year-old Palestinian man ran over and killed an Israeli settler near Nablus.

The driver turned himself in to Palestinian officials shortly after the accident, saying that he had fled the site of the accident out of fear.

The agriculture industry, olive cultivation in particular, provides livelihood for some 80,000 Palestinian families living in the occupied West Bank.

Settlers, mostly armed, regularly attack Palestinian villages and farms and set fire to their mosques, olive groves and other properties in the West Bank under the so-called “price tag” policy.

Price tag attacks are acts of vandalism and violence against Palestinians and their property as well as Islamic holy sites by Israeli settlers.

Israel has reportedly uprooted more than 800,000 olive trees in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/17/571454/Israeli-settlers-chop-down-200-Palestinian-olive-trees-in-West-Bank-village

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Yemeni civilians trapped as Saudi ramps up attacks on Hudaydah

Aug 17, 2018

Thousands of civilians are trapped in Yemen’s Hudaydah as Saudi Arabia and allies step up their attacks to capture the port city from the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Backed by air power from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, militia groups loyal to Yemen’s ousted former president, Abd Rbbuh Mansour Hadi, have been pushing to seize the Duraihami District, which lies adjacent to southern Hudaydah.

The Saudi-led front mounted a new offensive in Duraihami on Tuesday, two days after laying a siege to the heavily-populated area.

Local reports said the area is being constantly targeted by Saudi-led airstrikes, rocket attacks, artillery and an ongoing ground offensive.

The Houthi fighters say the Saudi-led coalition has been indiscriminately targeting civilians.

"The aggressor’s mercenaries are attacking the city randomly and they have destroyed houses and killed civilians inside them," a Houthi fighter in Hudaydah told Middle East Eye news portal.

"The airstrikes killed dozens of civilians in Duraihami and they are still targeting civilians, while Ansarallah [the Houthis] are fighting face-to-face on the ground," he added.

While authorities are trying to cope with a severe shortage of food and medicines due to the Saudi siege, the attacks have also crippled internet coverage across the region, making it almost impossible for residents to contact the outside world.

“There are some people that have bled to death [in the street] and no one dared to help them because of the clashes. Some corpses have decayed in the streets,” one resident said when reached by MEE.

Local health officials told MEE that airstrikes and rocket attacks on Duraihami had killed “dozens” of civilians but the extent of casualties was unknown.

Saudi’s long record of attacks on Yemeni civilians

Human Rights Watch says the Saudi-led coalition has conducted scores of “indiscriminate and disproportionate air strikes” hitting civilian objects that have killed thousands of civilians “in violation of the laws of war”, with munitions that the US, United Kingdom, and others still supply.

In one of their most abhorrent attacks, Saudi warplanes targeted a school bus in Yemen’s northwestern province of Sa’ada last week, leaving 40 children and 11 adults dead.

According to data from an independent monitoring group, the Yemen Data Project, this was just one of 55 instances of attacks on Yemeni civilian vehicles this year.

The group also suggests that Saudis are targeting civilians on purpose as an extensive analysis of over 18,000 airstrikes from March 2015 to April 2016 shows that almost a third (31%) of the targets were non-military – civilians or civilian infrastructure.

This is while only 36 percent of the attacks targeted military sites. The rest of the attacks were classified as having an unknown target.

Trump under pressure to explain US role in war

Following the deadly attack on Yemeni children, Democratic members of the US Congress have written three separate letters to Trump, asking him to justify Washington’s continued support for Riyadh in the face of its many atrocities.

The US, the UK and France have been the main providers of weapons and intelligence support to the Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the war.

It was reported in the days following the attack that an American bomb was used to hit the bus. The US has refused to condemn the attack.

The lawmakers have also urged US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Intelligence Director Daniel Coats to brief them on the war.

After the attack, the Riyadh regime first defended the strike as "legitimate" but later said it would investigate "collateral damage."

Spain said this week that it was reconsidering its arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the attack. The country sold about $500 million worth of weapons and munitions to Saudi last year, according to the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/17/571438/Yemen-Saudi-US-Hudaydah-Duraihami-civilians

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UN chief proposes options to protect Palestinians

August 18, 2018

UNITED NATIONS: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday presented four options aimed at boosting the protection of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, from sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under UN mandate.

The proposals were contained in a report requested by the General Assembly in response to a surge of violence in Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since late March.

The UN chief stressed that for each of the options, cooperation by Israel and the Palestinians would be necessary. It remained unlikely however that Israel would agree to the proposals.

In the 14-page report, Guterres proposed:

• Providing a “more robust UN presence on the ground” with rights monitors and political officers to report on the situation.

• Pouring in more UN humanitarian and development aid to “ensure the well-being of the population.”

• Creating a civilian observer mission that would be present in sensitive areas such as checkpoints and near Israeli settlements, with a mandate to report on protection issues.

• Deploying an armed military or police force, under a UN mandate, to provide physical protection to Palestinian civilians.

A UN mandate for a protection force would require a decision from the Security Council, where the United States could use its veto power to block a measure opposed by Israel.

A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but Israel has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint areas.

In the report, Guterres said the United Nations was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in a General Assembly resolution adopted in June.

In that measure, the 193-nation assembly condemned Israel for Palestinian deaths in Gaza and tasked Guterres with the drafting of proposals for “an international protection mechanism” for the Palestinians.

Guterres argued that a political solution to the conflict was needed to address the safety of Palestinians but that “until such a solution is achieved, member-states may further explore all practical and feasible measures that will significantly improve the protection of the Palestinian civilian population.”

“Such measures would also improve the security of Israeli civilians.”

On Friday, Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinians taking part in protests along the Gaza border and 270 other Palestinians were wounded.

Israel has defended its use of live ammunition in Gaza by invoking its right to self-defense. One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper in July.

“The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable,” Guterres said in the report, adding that “those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”

UN efforts to ensure the well-being of Palestinians must strengthened, he added, singling out the funding crisis at the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as being “of particular concern.”

UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump’s administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.

The report released to all UN member-states comes amid a vacuum in Middle East peace efforts as European and other big powers await a peace plan from the Trump administration that has been under discussion for months.

UN diplomats have recently begun questioning whether the US peace plan will ever materialize.

The United Nations has warned that a new war could explode in Gaza.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1358251/middle-east

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Turkey will respond if US imposes more sanctions: Minister

17 Aug 2018

Turkey on Friday threatened to respond if the United States levied further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor, which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.

"We've already responded based on the World Trade Organisation rules and will continue to do so," Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Washington warned on Thursday that it would impose more sanctions unless pastor Andrew Brunson, described by US President Donald Trump as a "hostage", was released.

Brunson's detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two NATO allies, sending the Turkish lira into a tailspin.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, was at 5.8 against the dollar and 6.7 against euro on Friday.

Last week, Trump tweeted that his administration was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey, and in response Ankara sharply hiked tariffs on some US products.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday the next spiral of tit-for-tat sanctions was coming soon, in a sign of a deepening spat.

Trump prefaced Mnuchin's remarks by saying that Turkey had not been a very good friend to America.

Full report at:

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/8/309815/World/Region/Turkey-will-respond-if-US-imposes-more-sanctions-M.aspx

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North America

 

US creates 'Iran Action Group' to up pressure on Tehran

August 18, 2018

WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new high-level team to focus US and international efforts to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran. The Iran Action Group will drive Washington's "maximum pressure" strategy to change Tehran's behavior, including potentially sanctioning other countries which trade with the country.

The group will be headed by Brian Hook as the State Department's Special Representative for Iran.

Hook, currently director of policy planning at the State Department, was in charge of the failed effort to get support from US allies for Washington's decision in May to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.

"For nearly 40 years the regime in Tehran has been responsible for a torrent of violence and destabilizing behavior against the United States, our allies, our partners and indeed the Iranian people themselves," said Pompeo.

"Our hope is that one day soon we can reach a new agreement with Iran. But we must see major changes in the regime's behavior both inside and outside its borders." The US has laid out a long list of activities it demands Tehran changes, including halting support for the Syrian government and the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, shutting down its nuclear development program, and freeing detained Americans. "This team is committed to a strong global effort to change the Iranian regime's behavior," Hook said. "We want to be closely synchronized with our allies and partners around the world." Hook, who met with officials from Britain, France and Germany on Iran policy in London on Wednesday, held out the possibility of the US engaging directly with Iranian leaders if they demonstrate a "commitment" to changing their behavior.

But he was not specific on what would be the minimum required to make that impression.

He also said that Washington is stepping up its effort to get other countries to fall in line with economic pressure on Tehran, including the crackdown on Iran's oil trade, financial sector and shipping industry announced for early November.

"Our goal is to reduce every country's import of Iranian oil to zero by November 4."

"We are prepared to impose secondary sanctions on other governments that continue this sort of trade with Iran."

Last week Trump warned the world about doing business with Iran, as European allies continued to grumble about the US policy and China, India and Turkey appeared poised to continue importing Iranian oil, providing the Iranian government crucial foreign exchange.

But the US sanctions appear to have had effect, tightening the country's supply of dollars and sending its currency in a tailspin - with the result a jump in inflation that has hurt Iranian consumers.

In Monday Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's said there would be neither war nor negotiations with the United States, and put the blame for mounting domestic economic turmoil on the shoulder of President Hassan Rouhani.

US officials have repeatedly said they only pressuring for a change in Iranian behavior and not change in the regime itself.

Asked whether the announcement of the Iran Action Group was purposely timed with 65th anniversary of the CIA-engineered overthrow of ex-prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh - which took place in mid-August 1953 - Hook labelled it "pure coincidence."

https://nation.com.pk/18-Aug-2018/us-creates-iran-action-group-to-up-pressure-on-tehran

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Turkey says will respond if US imposes more sanctions

August 18, 2018

ISTANBUL - Turkey on Friday threatened to respond if the United States levied further sanctions over the detention of an American pastor which has sparked a diplomatic standoff and battered the Turkish currency.

As Turkey's government sought to reassure markets after the lira had been sent into a tailspin by the deepening spat, Washington said the next raft of sanctions could be on the way.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned Thursday that the United States would impose more sanctions unless pastor Andrew Brunson, described by US President Donald Trump as a "hostage", was released.

Turkey's Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan responded to the new threat on Friday.

"We've already responded based on the World Trade Organisation rules and will continue to do so," Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency. Brunson's detention since October 2016 on terror-related charges has soured relations between the two NATO allies and sent the lira tumbling.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, had rebounded slightly over the last three days but on Friday it lost nearly five percent of its value and was quoted at 6.1 against the dollar. Trump on Thursday tweeted: "Turkey has taken advantage of the United States for many years. They are now holding our wonderful Christian Pastor, who I must now ask to represent our Country as a great patriot hostage."

He said: "We will pay nothing for the release of an innocent man, but we are cutting back on Turkey!"

A Turkish court on Friday rejected another appeal to free US pastor Andrew Brunson, whose detention has sparked a major crisis in Ankara's ties with Washington, his lawyer said.

The court ruled that Brunson would remain under house arrest, rejecting the third such request, lawyer Cem Halavurt told AFP, saying he would appeal again in 15 days.

Brunson, who was detained in October 2016 on terror and espionage charges, faces 35 years in jail if convicted.

The latest US announcement came after Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sought to soothe markets during an unprecedented teleconference on Thursday with hundreds of foreign investors from the United States, Europe to Asia.

He said Turkey would emerge "stronger" from the currency crisis and ruled out an IMF bailout.

William Jackson, chief emerging markets economist at London-based Capital Economics said in a note that Albayrak gave a "moderately convincing performance" during the call.

But he suggested that Turkish "policymakers only really seem to have done the minimum needed".

"Even in his call with investors, Albayrak said the fall in the lira was out of line with fundamentals, not acknowledging why confidence in Turkey evaporated," he said.

"And he seemed to downplay the risks in the corporate and banking sector posed by large foreign currency debts. These could still crystallise over the coming weeks and months, potentially making the crisis more acute."

Analysts say sharp hike in interest rates is needed to stop the declining value of lira, but Erdogan's government is opposed to any rate hike in order to stimulate growth.

Last week, Trump tweeted that his administration was doubling aluminium and steel tariffs for Turkey, which promoted Ankara to sharply hike tariffs on some US products.

Full report at:

https://nation.com.pk/18-Aug-2018/turkey-says-will-respond-if-us-imposes-more-sanctions

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US ready to hit Turkey with more sanction if pastor not released: Mnuchin

Aug 17, 2018

The US has warned that it is ready to impose more sanctions on Turkey if Ankara refuses to release a jailed American pastor; a threat that is likely to draw more harsh reactions from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We have put sanctions on several of their cabinet members," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told President Trump in a cabinet meeting attended by the press on Thursday. "We have more that we are planning to do if they don't release him quickly."

The threat of new sanctions made it clear that no immediate end was in sight to the showdown between Ankara and Washington that has rattled financial markets and strained decades of strong military and political alliance.

Bilateral ties have spiraled into a full-blown crisis over the trial of Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor, who is accused of having links with perpetrators of a failed military coup against Erdogan in 2016.

The row has seen Ankara put around $500 million of tariffs on some US imports and boycott American electronic products in retaliation for the Trump administration’s sanctions on some Turkish officials.

The US president announced on Twitter last week that he had authorized a doubling of steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, stating that relations between the two NATO allies "are not good at this time!"

Turkey shot back on Friday, threatening to respond if the United States levied further sanctions.

"We've already responded based on the World Trade Organization rules and will continue to do so," Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The lira, which earlier this week traded at well over seven to the dollar, was at 5.8 against the dollar and 6.7 against euro on Friday.

Trump asks Turkey to free ‘great patriot’ priest

The US present had harsh words for Turkish officials during the cabinet session, saying, "They have not proven to be a good friend."

Trump then called Brunson a “very innocent man” and said his arrest was “not fair, not right." He went on Twitter to describe the priest as a “great patriot” taken "hostage" by Turkey.

Lira plunges amid crisis, Turkey says still in control

The row has caused Turkish lira to crash to an all-time low against the US dollar, prompting Turkish officials to take emergency measures.

In a bid to soothe the markets, Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak went on record on Thursday to reassure investors that Ankara was still in control.

"Turkey will emerge stronger from these (currency) fluctuations," said Albayrak, who is also Erdogan’s son-in-law.

The lira sank to an unprecedented 7.24 to the dollar on Monday, drawing expert warnings that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had to intervene before it was too late.

Turkey, however, is confident that an IMF bailout is not necessary because the government has been able to turn the tide.

"We will turn this crisis into an opportunity," Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin told reporters, noting that Ankara’s response had led to a "rapid improvement process" over the last two days.

Erdogan determined to fight back

While many experts had predicted that Erdogan would back down to save ties with the US, the Turkish president’s moves over the past days have indicated otherwise.

Speaking to his supporters on Tuesday, Erdogan slammed the US for using the economy as a “weapon” and said the Turkey was facing an "economic attack" and a "bigger, deeper operation."

A day earlier, he said the US was seeking to stab Turkey “in the back” by sending the lira into a tailspin.

"You act on one side as a strategic partner but on the other you fire bullets into the foot of your strategic partner," Erdogan said. "We are together in NATO and then you seek to stab your strategic partner in the back. Can such a thing be accepted?"

Pledging to stand his ground, Erdogan has also hinted at leaving the Western military alliance and “start looking for new friends and allies.”

In an article for the New York Times, published last Friday, the Turkish leader said Turkey “had rushed to America’s help whenever necessary” in various times, from the Cold War to the more recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/08/17/571417/US-Turkey-Brunson-Trump-Erdogan-sanctions-Mnuchin

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India

 

Imam Detained For Holding Friday Prayer sans Permit

AUGUST 18, 2018

Landlord of private land in Gurugram also detained; both later let off by police

An Imam leading the offering of Namaz on private land in Gurugram’s Basai was detained by the city police on Friday for allegedly holding the prayer without prior permission from authorities. The landlord, Shri Krishan, was also detained.

The two were later let off after they gave in writing that they would not allow offering of namaz on the land in question.

Imam Abdul Wahid was leading the Friday prayers at Basai Chowk on Friday afternoon when a police team reached the spot and asked whether he had permission to hold namaz on the land.

Mr. Wahid told the police that the local Muslim committee had taken permission from Mr. Krishan and had paid rent to use the land.

The police, however, detained the Imam, as well as Mr. Krishan, and took them to Sector 9A police station.

The two were later released on intervention of Muslim Rashtriya Manch chief Hazi Shahzad Khan.

Angry and scared

Later, the Muslim community members held a meeting at Mr. Khan’s residence to express anger over the incident. The attendees said that the incident had led to a sense of fear in the community. The group said it has decided to meet Gurugram’s Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner on Saturday to seek protection and permission to offer Namaz on the private land.

Gurugram police spokesperson Subhash Boken said the police team had gone to the spot after they received information that Namaz was being offered without permission from the authorities.

He said that Namaz could be held only at places designated by the local administration. This decision was made after controversy over the offering of namaz at public places earlier this year.

Mr. Boken said that prior permission was required for holding namaz in Gurugram since adequate security arrangements were required to be made and duty magistrates deployed to prevent any untoward incident.

He said that the landlord and the Imam were let off after they agreed to not to use the said land for offering of Friday prayers without permission. Mr. Boken said that the Imam was detained only after the namaz was offered.

Mr. Khan alleged that the police misbehaved with the Imam and kept him in custody for almost three hours.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/imam-detained-for-holding-prayer-sans-permit/article24720800.ece

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One killed in grenade attack by terrorists in J&K

Aug 17, 2018

SRINAGAR: One person was killed and three were injured on Friday in a grenade attack by terrorists on a police installation in Awantipora area of Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district, police said.

They lobbed a grenade towards the main gate of the district police office which missed the intended target and exploded by the road, a police official said.

Four civilians were injured in the grenade blast, the official said, adding that one of the injured later succumbed to injuries at a hospital.

The deceased was identified as Abdul Ahad Panchoo (60).

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/one-killed-in-grenade-attack-by-terrorists-in-jk/articleshow/65442575.cms

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Pakistan dailies laud Vajpayee’s contribution to peace process

Aug 18, 2018

JAIPUR: Death of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (ABV) has resonated across the border in Pakistan. Almost every newspaper— English and Urdu had carried front-page reports on the demise of the founding member of BJP. The reports highlighted Vajpayee's efforts in restoring peace with Pakistan, acknowledging the existence of Pakistan and his government laying the foundation of a strong relation for his successors to nurture.

Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn carried a single column report on the former Indian prime minister with a headline ‘Vajpayee, partisan of peace with Pakistan, dies.’ The article went on to say that his 1999 visit to Lahore had become so popular in Pakistan that his host and the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he (ABV) could win an election there. It also said, "It was Vajpayee’s policy with Pakistan whose thread was picked up by his successor, Dr Manmohan Singh".

The Nation, another Pakistan-based English daily, began its piece by saying ‘While most of the Indian leaders are opposed to Pakistan and publicly say they want to break it up, Atal Behari Vajpayee was the one who had tried to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.’ Reported by Ashraf Mumtaz who covered Vajpayee’s trip to Pakistan in 1999 claimed that “Vajpayee had admitted that many people had advised him not to visit the Minar-i-Pakistan as such a step would amount to giving the stamp of approval to the creation of Pakistan. But he said he rejected the advice.” Another English Daily, Express Tribune talked that India’s three-time Prime Minister Vajpayee was one of the leaders to express anguish over the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in 2002.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-dailies-laud-vajpayees-contribution-to-peace-process/articleshow/65448044.cms

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Delhi: Muslim Ola driver found dead, row over his cremation

by Anand Mohan J

August 18, 2018

On August 9, Ola cab driver Mohammad Yusuf (40) left his house in north Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar and never returned. His family searched for him, only to find that he had died and his body cremated by the UP Police in Mathura’s Ol village — 200 km from his house.

WhileWhile the family has vented their ire at the police for “their callous attitude” for cremating a Muslim, police said “the man could not be identified and was cremated as per procedure”. As per norms, police wait 72 hours in cases pertaining to unidentified bodies. When no contact with the family is made, the body is disposed of.

Yusuf was found murdered, with his hands tied behind his back and dumped in a canal on August 10. He had left his house at 10.30 pm to drop a passenger the night before. Ola informed his family that his last known location was at Jhurvai, Mathura, following which the GPS went unresponsive at 12.19 am. The passenger who took the cab could not be contacted by the company.

The family went to Sadar Bazaar police station to file a missing persons complaint, which was registered the following morning. “When they did his post-mortem, they should have seen that he was circumcised… This is complete callousness on their (UP Police) part. They should have at least waited for us,” said Atiya, Yusuf’s elder sister.

The Ol police chowki in-charge, who led the search for Yusuf in the bordering villages, said that they could not ascertain his religious identity due to lack of any documents. “If the man was a Hindu and we would have buried him, that wouldn’t have been right either. He did not have any ID cards. We searched around the bordering villages before cremating him,” said Bipin Kumar, the chowki in-charge.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/delhi-muslim-ola-driver-found-dead-row-over-his-cremation-5312604/

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South Asia

 

Taliban Chief invites US to talks to ‘Reach Understanding’ to end the ongoing war

Aug 18 2018

The Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada has invited US to talks to ‘Reach Understanding’ for ending the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Akhundzada made the remarks in his statement issued ahead of Eid Al-Adha.

He said the Taliban group still emphasizes on the logic of understanding and reasoning and invites the US to talks rather than using force.

Akhundzada further added that the only way to ensure a complete and total end to the ongoing war is the end of the occupation of Afghanistan.

He went to claim that the current conflict has links with the occupation of Afghanistan by US and that the Taliban group has been emphasizing on direct talks with the US to end the war.

This comes as efforts are underway to start intra-Afghan and Afghan-led peace talks among the Taliban and the Afghan government.

However, the Taliban group has repeatedly rejected to launch talks with the Afghan government and emphasize on direct talks with the United States.

This comes despite President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani offered the recognition of the Taliban group as a political movement late in February this year in a bid to pave the way for the revival of peace talks.

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-chief-invites-us-to-talks-to-reach-understanding-to-end-the-ongoing-war-05783/

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Myanmar, Bangladesh agree to remove 'national' tag from Rohingya ID Cards

Aug 18, 2018

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed to replace the term "Forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals" to "Displaced persons from Rakhine State" on registration cards issued to Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar. Myanmar made the demand during a meeting last week, Bangladeshi officials have said. Almost 1 million Rohingya Muslims forced out of Myanmar now live in southern Bangladesh, with 700,000 of them arriving after the latest crackdown on the stateless minority started in August last year.

A 15-member Bangladeshi delegation led by Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali visited Myanmar between Thursday and Saturday. It was the first state-sponsored visit to Myanmar since the Rohingya fled to Bangladesh a year ago.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), however, said in a statement on Wednesday that Bangladesh had "agreed" to the change.

"While changing a few words on a refugee's ID card may seem inconsequential, for the 700,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar a year ago, it is essential," said Bill Frelick, director of Refugee Rights Program of HRW, Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.

"This change signals that Myanmar doesn't intend to honor the citizenship rights of Rohingyas, nor acknowledge the cause of their displacement-security force operations that included murder, widespread rape, mass arson, and pillage," HRW added at the statement.

Commissioner of the Bangladesh Refugee Relief & Repatriation Commission (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam told AA on Thursday that Myanmar raised the ID card issue.

"The Foreign Ministry is the authority to take final decision to bring the change. We have yet to get any formal decision or instruction on the matter," he said.

Rohingya refugees have long expressed doubts about whether they would benefit from rights as citizens if repatriation were to occur.

Executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, Iftekhar Zaman, on Thursday told AA that identifying Rohingya refugees as Myanmar nationals was necessary for them to acquire their rights as citizens. "The international community has failed to pay due importance to the humanitarian crisis created by Myanmar on Rohingya people which [puts] Bangladesh in a trap."

Myanmar has been accused of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Rakhine after it launched operations in August last year, with security forces reportedly having engaged in killings, torture, rape, and arson. The U.N. said that Rohingya remaining in Rakhine are under local orders that severely restrict their freedom of movement, preventing them from reaching jobs, school, and health care, and called for these to be lifted.

Full report at:

https://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2018/08/18/myanmar-bangladesh-agree-to-remove-national-tag-from-rohingya-id-cards

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Bangladeshi terrorist group growing in International level

August 18, 2018

He is not John Bolton with unlimited resources. But he has been playing an effective role not only in ensuring the ruling party is power against a series of conspiracies from home and abroad. In some cases, he is not hesitating in taking risks of his own life for the sake of proving his total loyalty to the Prime Minister. And that has already turned him into a prime enemy of the enemies of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister and the Pakistani espionage agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI). During the last tale of 2013, when many of the top analysts in the world were clearly predicting fall of the ruling party, this man was not leaving any stone untouched to ensure, none of the conspiracies of the enemies of Bangladesh works and he has very efficiently played the role of a true captain in not only salvaging the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League from a potential catastrophe but also has ensured a foolproof security throughout the country when major opposition – Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its political darling Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh (JIB) decided to go on the street instead of participating in the polls. Many critics say January 5, 2014, general election in Bangladesh was not free and fair as it was not participated by the main opposition. But, they never say, it was a constitutional obligation for the government to hold the election on time in order to avoid any unconstitutional consequence.

Much before this January-2014 general election, teachers and students of Hefazat-e-Islami Bangladesh (HIB), an organization of the teachers and students of the Qaomi madrassa [Koranic school] came on the street demanding proclamation of Sharia rule in Bangladesh. They had secret backing from the Pakistani espionage agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), while they also were guided by several controversial individuals like Mahmudur Rahman [acting editor of vernacular daily Amar Desh], Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and even some of the top leaders of Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Mahmudur Rahman made the blueprint of stating an Iran-type Islamist coup in Bangladesh thus toppling-down the ruling party and push Bangladesh towards the fate of another Iran – if not even worst. Rahman knew, in a country of 170 million people, it was very easy to attain support from the masses by exhibiting Sharia rule a much better choice than democracy. But the Western policymakers were either ignorant or unaware of this plain fact. When Western nations were demanding the continuation of democracy in Bangladesh through free, fair and participatory election, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its political darling Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh were thinking of transforming Bangladesh either into a chaotic nation or a nation ruled by an odd conglomerate of the pro-Islamist and antisemitic Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh. Mahmudur knew, secularism would not find a better position in a country, where most of the 170 million population either are heavy with the pro-Islamist mindset or to some extent preferring Sharia rule over democracy. Should the conspirators become successful, by now, Bangladesh would have definitely turned into one of the worst challenges to the West as well as to the secularist nations including India.

Ever since Bangladesh Awami League came to power in 2009 through a landslide victory, Pakistani espionage agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) has tried in multiple ways in somehow toppling down the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Because ISI top brasses never could feel comfortable either with Sheikh Hasina or with her secularist, Bangladesh Awami League. For ISI, it was a matter of challenge to topple-down the sitting government by hook or crook. With this mission in mind, Pakistani espionage agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) was spending millions of dollars both in Bangladesh and abroad. But, nothing worked, just because of extremely effective, dynamic and timely strategies adopted by the Security Adviser to the Prime Minister, Major General (Retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique.

Unfriendly media catering misleading information:

This December, Bangladesh is scheduled to hold the general election to elect a government for another five years. Although the current coalition government led by Sheikh Hasina has made the immense contribution in improving country’s economic status from the Under Developed to Developed; the unfortunate and bitterest truth is this government already has become extremely unpopular at home and abroad. In the eyes of the international community, Sheikh Hasina government is seen as the most repressive, ruthless and to some extent illegitimate. Especially in the recent days, the government’s image has been badly affected because of the ongoing repression on the students [who came on the street demanding road safety]. International media are not seeing such actions positively and gradually it is putting Bangladesh into isolation.

Bangladesh authorities are shown in a very negative manner to the international community. During this crucial moment, Indian media are not showing any due courtesy towards Bangladesh. Instead, they too are showing hostility by, for example, portraying Sheikh Hasina as the ‘most unpopular’ leader in Bangladesh. Indian Express newspaper even forecasted that Bangladesh may go under total authoritarian rule should Sheikh Hasina succeed in winning a third consecutive term. It means they aren’t too willing to see the further continuation of this government. On the other hand, Indian policymakers also are not interested in letting Sheikh Hasina a third consecutive term as this would actually be a burden to them. Once Sheikh Hasina wins a third consecutive term, she will become much stronger and would even further consolidate her position. She may then put certain international pressure on India in getting several unsettled issues resolved. Although the Western nations, especially the Trump administration are not seeing Sheikh Hasina in a positive eyes [because of her blind support towards Palestine and her foreign policy, which is in some cases a ditto to that of Iran], it is very much anticipated that, Sheikh Hasina may take several drastic measures in seeing a dramatic improvement in Dhaka-Washington relations.

According to political analysts, any dramatic improvement of Dhaka-Washington relations may be a ‘mission impossible’ but still, an effective move from the Bangladesh side would definitely turn this ‘mission impossible’ into possible. For attaining this, Dhaka will need to reshuffle its Middle East policy – make warmer and deeper ties with Riyadh instead of Tehran. Moreover, under the changed global scenario, Bangladesh needs to walk out from its policy towards Israel and even take an effective step in lifting the travel ban. This certainly will help Bangladesh is getting some reliable and effective allies in the world.

If we keep eyes on the international media, very unfortunately, there is tons of negative propaganda or contents against the ruling party and Bangladesh, instead of anything positive. Certainly, it is a total failure of the press sections of Bangladesh missions in different countries as well as the Media Advisor to the Prime Minister and the Information Ministry. Some ministers of the government are equally responsible for giving birth to unwarranted controversies, which against is tarnishing the image of the government and even the personal image of the Prime Minister.

Bangladeshi militancy group going international!

According to Bangladesh’s largest vernacular daily the Prothom Alo, Bangladeshi militancy group Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) has already formed an alliance with Ansar Al Islamand are now looking for joining hands with Al Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Should this turn into a turned into a reality, JMB-AQIS nexus will pose a grave threat to Bangladesh, India, the region and even the world.

Being a counterterrorism specialist, I know, during the past twelve years, JMB has secretly gained strength – both financially and militarily. Since 2009, this organization has been secretly recruiting convicted members of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), a paramilitary border guard. These BDR men were convicted for taking part in a massacre in 2009 (February 25-26) inside the Pilkhana Head Quarters of BDR, killing 57 bright officers of Bangladesh Armed Forces as well as a physical and sexual assault on the female family members of the unfortunate officer (even children were not spared). This massacre took place just within the first 60 days of Sheikh Hasina’s government in power and there were extreme risks of the government being ousted through a military coup. But, then Defence Adviser to the Prime Minister, Major General (Retired) Tarique Ahmed Siddique played a crucial and key role not only saving the country from going under another military rule but also had saved the government from a premature ending.

During my days in the prison, (from November 8, 2012, to July 29, 2018); I have personally witnessed as to how the members of BDR are very easily getting radicalized and joining hands with JMB. Some of these BDR men even are donating a huge sum of money by selling properties, while others are taking the secret instruction from the JMB high command in spreading seeds of jihad throughout the country. I can cite here the example of BDR soldier Abul Bashar (hailing from Dhamrai area), who not only has become the top coordinator of JMB inside the prison but also has been donating millions of Taka, collecting weapon and getting under-trial or convicted prisoners radicalized. Bashar openly proclaims himself as a fan of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. For the sake of holding secret meetings with the JMB men inside the prison, Bashar is using the influence of one Partha, deputy inspector general of prison in staying alone in a room. This room, located at the Condemned Cell at Kashimpur Central Jail (Part-1) is being used for showing videos on making of bombs as well as jihadist activities. I have personally witnessed as to how just one Bashar has succeeded in getting almost seventy percent of his inmates extremely radicalized. They even are planning a jail escape from Kashimpur Central Jail (Part 1, 2 and 4) latest by November 2018. JMB wants to begin maximum offensives in Bangladesh from the last week of November with the ulterior motive of putting the ruling party in extreme jeopardy. Security Adviser to the Prime Minister and country’s intelligence agencies are in the total dark about such dangerous preparations of JMB. For the sake of national security and for the greater interest of the nation, individuals like Abul Bashar should be immediately separated from JMB affiliation and he should even be put into isolated prison. On the other hand, DIG prison, Parthha should be brought under close scanner so that he cannot exert his influence in letting Abul Bashar almost openly meeting JMB men and discuss jihadist plot on a regular basis. I have seen, prison authorities are purchased by the Islamist militancy group in exchange of a hefty sum of monthly payment thus paving the way of the spread of radical Islamic militancy within the prisons in a faster pace than our imagination.

Can Tarique Ahmed Siddiquee succeed this time?

Full report at:

https://www.timesofassam.com/international/bangladeshi-terrorist-group-growing-in-international-level/

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South Asian Islamists gain ground in Philadelphia

August 17, 2018

Only a few days after the annual 4th-of-July festival brought thousands of people to celebrate American independence in the streets of Philadelphia, the city hosted a different kind of gathering. The Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), an organization with deep ties to the south Asian extremist group Jamaat e Islami (JI), chose the City of Brotherly Love as the venue for its annual Islamist convention. Over the weekend of July 7 and 8th, a number of fanatical speakers addressed the MUNA conference in America’s birthplace. Worse still, this conference took place with the endorsement of local politicians.

Incorporated in New York in 1990, MUNA professes to be a benign non-profit group devoted to “social service” and developing the “personal, moral and social quality of human life.” Yet MUNA officials and the guests at its events including prominent supporters of JI, a violent South Asian Islamist movement founded in India by the Islamist theorist Abul Ala Maududi, whose ideas about Islamist conquest helped shape the development of groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Although JI is not itself a banned organization in America, in August 2017, the U.S. government designated Hizbul Mujahideen – JI’s paramilitary wing in Pakistan and Kashmir – as a terrorist organization.

Although JI maintains branches in dozens of countries across the globe, it is perhaps best known for helping Pakistani forces commit dozens of war crimes against Bangladeshis during the 1971 independence war. In the decades since, JI has continued its practice of complicity in violence across the subcontinent.

MUNA’s officials are not shy about their support for JI. In 2010, MUNA organized a picnic with Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, JI’s assistant secretary general, as the guest of honor. A few years later, in 2013, a Bangladeshi War Crimes Tribunal sentenced Kamaruzzaman to death for his role in the murder and torture of unarmed civilians, including the massacre of 120 unarmed farmers, during the Bangladesh Independence War.

MUNA’s vice national president Abul Faizullah, meanwhile, has praised Abdul Qader Mollah, another senior JI official. Mollah was also sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, which included assisting Pakistani troops with the murder of 369 people.

Despite JI’s violence, American politicians seemed happy to endorse MUNA and its convention. New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Atlantic City (NJ) Mayor Frank M. Gilliam, Jr. both penned letters of praise for MUNA, which were published in the convention’s booklet. In his letter, Congressman Jeffries applauded MUNA for “building bridges of understanding and cooperation,” while Mayor Gilliam wished MUNA “all the best for [the] convention.”

Neither Gilliam nor Jeffries seemed troubled by MUNA’s links to a genocidal Islamist movement or the convention’s featured speakers, several of whom have long histories of hateful speech. For instance, MUNA’s conference featured the prominent cleric Suhaib Webb, who has made many extremist statements. Webb has previously said that “the men who imitate a woman and the women who imitate the men and their dress are cursed.” He has stated that he “understands” Muslims may have “animosity” towards Jews. And he has declared that the punishment for those who commit Zina [adultery or fornication] is to be stoned to death.

Webb’s support for theocracy seems clear. He calls secularism a “radical, lunatic ideology”, mourns the “loss of holy power in politics” and rule “by divine authority,” and calls for governance by “the dynamic, pluralistic, empowering Islam of the Prophet’s era.”

Speakers from overseas were just as extreme. Bengali cleric Abul Kalam Azad Bashar uses his social media to express extremist and misogynist opinions. He describes democracy as nothing but a stepping-stone to establish absolute Islamic rule. He has described a country governed by man-made laws as a “totally sinful idea,” and he praised Saudi Arabian laws that force women to be “fully covered,” contrasting them with Bangladeshi women’s “immodest outfits on the street [which] create a disgusting atmosphere.” Zahid Bukhari, a former president of the Islamic Circle of North America (an organization also closely tied to JI), was also present. Bukhari has openly promoted Jamaat-e-Islami on his Facebook page, and has shared petitions in support of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, an Islamist jailed for murdering a police officer in Georgia. Bukhari has also enthusiastically eulogized Necmettin Erbakan, the late anti-Semitic Islamist former prime minister of Turkey. Bukhari described Erbakan as “a visionary and brilliant leader of Turkey’s Islamist movement who devoted his entire life to creating a more peaceful and just world.”

With these speakers, MUNA affirms its extremist ideals. Even if MUNA had not invited such fanatic speakers to the convention, the organization has a clear history of condoning and spreading extremism, and giving platforms to hate. Why would our elected officials, whose primary responsibility is to protect and govern American democracy, involve themselves with an Islamist movement and speakers committed to replacing that democracy with violent theocracy?

Full report at:

https://www.rabwah.net/south-asian-islamists-gain-ground-in-philadelphia/

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Ghani orders in-depth review of conspiracies surrounding the attack on Ghazni

Aug 17 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has instructed the relevant authorities and security officials for an in-depth review of the conspiracies surrounding the attack on Ghazni city.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, in a statement said President Ghani issued the latest instructions during a security meeting organized upon his to Ghazni province.

The statement further added that the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Defense Gen. Sharif Yaftali shared information regarding the situation of Ghazni city and the ongoing clearance operations.

He said the clearance operations are being conducted normally and the security situation in the city has returned to its normal condition and new security belts have been established.

In his turn, President Ghani hailed the bravery of the Afghan armed forces while responding to the attack on Ghazni city and said those who have shown courage and bravery will be hailed.

President Ghani emphasized on further coordination among the security and defense insitutions.

He instructed the National Directorate of Security to review the conspiracies surrounding the attack on the city and ascertain the weak points.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/ghani-orders-in-depth-review-of-conspiracies-surrounding-the-attack-on-ghazni-05780/

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Afghan Taliban attend peace talks in Indonesia

Tahir Khan

AUGUST 18, 2018

Political representatives of Afghan Taliban travelled to attend peace talks held in Indonesia, confirmed on Friday by the Taliban’s political office.

Afghan Taliban Qatar office said that a delegation of political representatives led by its office chief Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai visited Indonesia from August 12 to August 15.

In a statement received by Daily Times from political spokesman of Taliban Suhail Shaheen, the delegation met Indonesian deputy president Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and presidential special envoy for Afghanistan and discussed ways to bring peace to Afghanistan and withdrawal of foreign troops. Both sides also exchanged views on bilateral relations.

Taliban was also supposed to visit Indonesia in March this year when Indonesian Ulema Council held a conference of religious scholars belonging from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia.

The conference was postponed after the Taliban dismissed it by calling it a “ploy by the intelligence to justify the American invasion”. The conference was later held in May when Indonesian government assured Taliban that no edict will be issued against them.

Taliban political envoys have also stepped up the efforts to contact other countries, after they met senior American diplomats in Doha last month in their first direct talks.

They also visited Uzbekistan earlier this month as a part of their diplomatic efforts to take countries into confidence and to expedite the peace process with Americans.

It is equally ironic to see Taliban expediting the diplomatic process, when they are also increasing their attacks against security forces. Over 200 security personnel have been killed in these attacks over the past few days. They held a siege in Ghazni for five days after the city was cleared by Afghan’s security forces. The clash reportedly killed 100 soldiers and injured 95 civilians. Taliban also killed at least 40 security forces on their raid on a military base in northern Baghlan province on August 14th.

President Ghani on Friday visited Ghazni where he again asked the Taliban to join the peace process and said that Taliban want “more concessions in talks with their fighting.” He claimed that injured Taliban “receive treatment in Pakistan.”

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/285139/afghan-taliban-attend-peace-talks-in-indonesia/

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American model Gigi Hadid pays visit to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, shares pictures

August 18, 2018

American supermodel Gigi Hadid paid a visit to Bangladesh to meet the Rohingya Muslim Refugees ahead of New York Fashion Week, which is scheduled for this September. The 23-year-old model took her time off to collaborate with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). She interacted with the women and children in Bangladesh benefitting from the charity organisation’s programs.

Posting pictures of her humanitarian trip on Instagram, Hadid revealed that she visited the Jamtoli Refugee Camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

She wrote, “Jamtoli Refugee Camp, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Population: 45,470 (as of 21 Jun 2018). Across all the camps, 1.3 million people currently require humanitarian assistance, more than half of them are children. From January-July of 2018, UNICEF has enrolled 91,929 refugee children in emergency non-formal education, trained 2,762 teachers to support improved learning for refugee children, provided 146,670 refugee and host community children with psychosocial activities and/or Gender-Based Violence services, & have reached over 900 thousand people with oral cholera vaccines, primary healthcare services in UNICEF-supported facilities, and with the Penta 3 vaccine, protecting against life-threatening illnesses such as diphtheria and pertussis. Link in my bio to learn more

Rohingyas are a Muslim minority ethnic group in Myanmar and are considered to be illegal immigrants.Scores of Rohingya refugees are languishing in Indian refugee camps, after fleeing a brutal Myanmar army campaign that launched in August last year. They are residing in several parts of the country including Jammu, Hyderabad, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, and Rajasthan.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatvnews.com/entertainment/hollywood-american-model-gigi-hadid-pays-visit-to-rohingya-refugees-in-bangladesh-shares-picture-458588

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Southeast Asia

 

Taliban, Indonesian Officials Hold Talks On Afghan Peace

Aug 18, 2018

Taliban’s Qatar office said a delegation of the group has held talks with senior Indonesian officials over Afghan peace process.

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A delegation of Taliban visited Indonesia on August 12-15 and held talks with Indonesian sneior officials over the Afghan peace process and withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, Taliban’s Qatar office confirmed in a statement.

Accoridng to the statement, Taliban’s delegation was led by head of Qatar Office Mullah Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai and they visited Indonesia this week from Saturday to Wednesday.

The Taliban delegation met with Indonesian First Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia Forieng Minister Retno Marsudi and Hamid Awaluddin, Indonosia’s special representative for Afghanistan, read the statement.

The Taliban delegation and Indonesian officials also held discussions on relations between Taliban and Indonesia, read the statement.

Taliban’s delegation visited Indonesia after in May religious scholars from Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan issued a declaration on the Afghan war and peace process in Indonesia.

The Ulema (religious scholars) stated in the declaration that war and violence have no place in Islam and that Islam is the religion of peace and true believers should put into practice what this religion has said.

The religious scholars said they support any peace offer, efforts and declarations in hope of bringing peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.

The declaration stated that the religious scholars of the three countries support the peace offer made by the Afghan government to the Taliban aimed to end war and violence in the country.

“We the Ulema, therefore appreciate and support the offer of the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as announced by President Ashraf Ghani during the Kabul Peace Process, February 2018 for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” read the declaration.

The declaration said the religious scholars also appreciate the regional countries, Muslim nations and the international community's support to the Afghan peace process.

Religious scholars also asked all war parties to lay down their weapons and start direct peace talk.

“We take note of conducive environment for peace in Afghanistan and call upon all sides to join direct peace talks,” read the declaration.

The Ulema said terrorism and extremism in all its form including violence against civilians and suicide attacks are against Islam and that name of no religion, including Islam, should not be used for justification of terror activities.

“We reaffirm that violence and terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilization, or ethnic group, as violent extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including violence against civilians and suicide attacks, are against the holy principles of Islam,” read the statement.

All Muslims are brothers and they should stay united and preserve their brotherhood, the declaration said.

The religious scholars said in the declaration that the Ulema of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Indonesia can play a crucial role in promoting peace and that they support such efforts.

The Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) says that from Afghanistan 20 religious have attended the meeting and they hope it will have a constructive result for Afghan peace process.

http://prod.tolonews.com/afghanistan/taliban%C2%A0indonesian-officials-hold-talks-afghan-peace

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Anwar backs banning books that insult, ridicule Islam

17 August 2018

PETALING JAYA, Aug 17 — PKR incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today he detests the banning of books, but he would make an exception for publications that insult Islam and Prophet Muhammad.

He gave the example of The Satanic Verses, the seminal but controversial 1988 novel by British Indian author Salman Rushdie — who was forced to seek protection and asylum in the UK due to the death threats and fatwa issued by Muslims worldwide after its publication.

“This is only my personal view. I am not inclined to the issue on banning [books] unless it is the Satanic Verses book. That is different.

“Insulting and ridiculing Islam and the Prophet, that is not right,” he told the press.

Anwar was responding to a question on whether authors are now free to publish their books under the new government

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1663545/anwar-backs-banning-books-that-insult-ridicule-islam

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Ibrahim Ali, ex-Umno man forms Putra to champion Bumi rights

17 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Self-declared defenders of Bumiputera rights, Datuk Ibrahim Ali and former Umno veteran Tan Sri Khalid Yunus announced today their new political party called Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia — Putra for short.

Ibrahim who is its pro tempore president, touted Putra as an alternative to Malay Muslims who could not see eye-to-eye with the principles of the present Pakatan Harapan (PH) government or that of other political parties.

“We have heard feedbacks from the people, including Umno members, who are in need of a new party.

“They said they will not leave Umno for Pakatan as the coalition was the one who killed their beloved party.

“Meanwhile, others are hesitant to join Pakatan because they disagree with their fights for equal rights and liberalism,” he told a press conference at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman here.

Today also marks the ruling PH coalition’s 100th day in power.

Khalid, acting as Ibrahim’s pro tempore deputy, added that Putra’s inception also stemmed from PH’s alleged failure to uphold the Federal Constitution and the rule of law.

“These are the two salient points that Ibrahim and I just can’t tolerate.

“As veterans, we cannot afford to keep mum and be bystanders when other parties are acting like they are mute and refusing to provide the necessary check and balance,” he said.

Ibrahim said an online application to register the party has been made on August 13 and a physical copy was also submitted to the Registrar of Society yesterday.

He said once registered, the party will strive to ensure that the economy “cake” will be distributed fairly according to the race ratio in Malaysia.

“While we support the need-base policy, we want to ensure that the economy cake will not be monopolised by the minorities,” he said.

Ibrahim has a chequered history with several Malay Muslim parties over the course of his political career starting from the 1980s.

He was previously Pasir Mas MP three times, in 1986 as a Barisan Nasional candidate, in 1990 representing Parti Semangat Melayu 46 and in 2008 with the support of PAS.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1663519/Ibrahim-Ali-ex-Umno-man-forms-Putra-to-champion-Bumi-rights

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Clerics look to sting Indonesian 'jellyfish' sect

August 17, 2018

Clerics in Indonesia's Banten province have called on local authorities to ban a "heretical and blasphemous" Muslim sect after it claimed the Prophet Muhammad was a woman.

The sect, called the Jellyfish Kingdom, is led by a woman named Aisyah and has about a dozen members, according to media reports.

Based in provincial capital Serang, the sect has been propagating its beliefs during "all-night activities" at a house over the last two months that have prompted a slew of complaints.

"Jellyfish Kingdom is heretical and can be regarded as blasphemous," Amas Tajudin, secretary of the Serang chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), told local news outlet bantennews.co.id on Aug. 13, after visiting the house with police and local community leaders.

He said the sect's leader believes that the "Prophet Muhammad was a woman and born in Sumedang, West Java" and that she was Ratu Kidul, a mythical figure and reputed queen of the Southern Sea, who was a follower of a local indigenous faith called Sunda Wiwitan.

However, she acknowledges the Quran is the holy book and Allah as God, he said.

He called on police to immediately ban the sect and prosecute the leader and its members for blasphemy.

Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi, deputy chairman of the MUI's national council, told ucanews.com on Aug. 17 that a team had been sent to Serang to investigate the matter.

"We haven't received a report [from the team], so we cannot decide on anything yet," he said, adding that he backed the local chapter's handling of the issue.

Calling for the local community to stay calm, he praised police for preventing angry Muslims from taking the law into their own hands.

During the visit to the house, police arrested the 12 sect members and seized papers containing the sect's beliefs.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said the group was just strange and not causing real harm.

"Despite their weird activities and beliefs upsetting some people, they should not be criminalized or deemed blasphemous," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/clerics-look-to-sting-indonesian-jellyfish-sect/83104

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Africa

 

UMSC Urges Government to Employ Muslim Teachers

August 17, 2018

The Secretary General Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) Ramadhan Mugalu has urged the Ministry of Education and Sports to recruit more Muslim teachers during the upcoming mass recruitment exercise.

The Education Ministry is expected to advertise about 3000 jobs in the education sector in the near future.

Mugalu said the excuse that Muslims have no qualifications is now out dated because UMSC has an inventory of over 1000 Muslims who are qualified to occupy different positions in the education sector.

“We challenge anyone who claims that Muslims are not qualified to look at our database. We have more than enough,” he said.

Mugalu was speaking at a consultative meeting of over 500 registered but jobless Muslim teachers which was held at the UMSC headquarters old Kampala.

He said UMSC, through its department of education has embarked on an advocacy campaign aimed at breaking the tradition of sidelining Muslim professionals in government jobs by having all qualified Muslim teachers registered and lobbied for.

Mugalu however, urged the teachers to be organized and disciplined in whatever action they take and encouraged them to harness the growing opportunities in the UMSC structures.

https://chimpreports.com/umsc-urges-government-to-employ-muslim-teachers/

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UN releases a damning report revealing how terrorist activities are funded across Africa

17.08.2018

The United Nations (UN) has exposed the activities of terrorist organisations in Nigeria and across Africa.

In a special report released on Wednesday, August 15, 2018, the UN revealed various sources of funding for Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations operating in Africa.

The report was submitted to the UN Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – ISIL – (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated terrorist entities.

The report was signed by Edmund Fitton-Brown, Coordinator, Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, and Kairat Umarov, Chair, Security Council Committee. Fitton-Brown said the report was “comprehensive and independent”.

Here are some of the revelations from the report:

North Africa

Libya

The report stated that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) still has the capacity to launch significant attacks within Libya and across the border, reverting to asymmetric tactics and improvised explosive devices.

It stated that the group maintain networks of mutual financial support and arms supply.

Tunisia

According to the report, the mountainous areas in the west of Tunisia continue to harbour elements of ISIL and Al-Qaeda affected by the fluid situation in Libya.

Egypt

United Nations Member-States assessed that returning foreign terrorist fighters, particularly those of North African origin, continue to pose a threat to the region.

“Member states reported that terrorist groups in North Africa derived substantial income from kidnapping for ransom, local extortion and the ‘taxing’ of smuggling routes. During the reporting period, however, there was no evidence that they were directly involved in trafficking in drugs or persons,” the report revealed.

West Africa

In the Sahel

The report stated that Jama‘at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) successfully combined regional terrorist groups in an Al-Qaida-affiliated coalition, which increased attacks and propaganda against French, United States of America and other international interests during the reporting period.

Mali and Niger

The report noted that the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is active mostly at the border between Mali and the Niger.

It stated that its goal is to destabilise the Sahel and any normalisation of life there, to maintain freedom of movement in the north and access to smuggling routes.

Burkina Faso

The United Nation said Member-States assessed that terrorists are taking advantage of territorial control and ethnic conflicts to radicalise populations.

It also revealed that the number of doctrinally based non-governmental organisations sending funds to local terrorist groups is growing, and Member-States are concerned that radicalisation is increasing the threat level in the Sahel.

Nigeria

The report revealed that the cash economy is predominant in the region without controls. It further stated that terrorist groups are funded by extortion, charitable donations, smuggling, remittances and kidnapping.

The report cited the 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi kidnapped on 18 February 2018 and released by ISWAP on March 21, 2018, in exchange for a large ransom payment.

East Africa

Somalia

Al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab remains the dominant terrorist group in the region, according to the report.

Member-States noted that although ISIL in Somalia is fragile and operationally weak, it still presents a threat because Somalia remains a focus for probable future ISIL operations

Full report at:

https://www.pulse.ng/bi/politics/un-report-reveals-how-terrorist-activities-are-funded-id8736764.html

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El-Rufai sponsoring hate speech campaigns against us – Shi’ites

August 17, 2018

By Amos Tauna

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, IMN, has accused Kaduna State governor, Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai, of sponsoring hate speech campaign against the group.

The movement in a statement issued by the president, Media Forum, Ibrahim Musa, alleged that El Rufa’i sponsored hate speech campaigns against it at a recent book presentation at Arewa House, Kaduna, during which Shias were called infidels by the organisers of the event.

According to Musa, “The Islamic Movement in Nigeria wishes to express its outright disapproval of the current campaign of calumny against the Shia Islamic faith in general and the Islamic Movement in particular as espoused in the gathering of some Wahabi Islamic scholars during the book presentation on Sunday 11/08/18 at Arewa House, Kaduna, where Kaduna state Governor was the Chief Host.

“Though, the book presented was entitled “Fallacy of Shi’ites beliefs,” the scholars were reported by some national dailies to have said that “Shiites, threat to National Security.” We feel this news headline deserves our condemnation. How about if we say: “Sunnis, threat to National Security,” will followers of Sunni Islam in Nigeria not get offended?” according to the Press Statement.

“We are extremely concerned that this title is similar to some of the scary titles you read about Muslims on the websites of Far Right movements who are busy spreading Islamophobia in the West in particular and the world in general, only that in this context the shiaphobia is the bogey for the so-called Wahabbi scholars.”

It drew the attention of the government to the freedom granted citizens by the constitution, “We must emphasize that while these debates and arguments between Sunnis and Shiites are as old as the history of Islam, the secular Nigeria has nothing to do with it.

“These scholars know very well that the constitution of Nigeria gives freedom of speech and religion as enshrined in section 38, which categorically states: “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

The statement denied that the Islamic Movement poses a national threat, “Why they hate the Shiites has nothing to do with national security.

“Well-meaning Nigerians should not be seen to support demonizing narratives sanctioned at a state level simply because people choose different interpretations of some issues within the religion of Islam. Therefore, as long as a group or organisation conducts itself peacefully without legitimizing violence, the state should stay away from meddling in inter-sectarian polemics.

“The almost 40 years history of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and its Leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is enough a pointer to the fact that we are not a threat to national security as those so called scholars that gathered in Kaduna will want other Nigerians to believe. In fact it is the other way round, because it is on record that in one of his books, the author of the book launched, Prof. Umar Labdo of the Maitama Sule University, Kano, called on Muslims of his like to kill, maim and burn the properties of Christians and Shiites.

“We strongly believe that it’s such ‘scholars’ who identify with the ISIS ideology that spread hate and animosity among citizens that are a threat to National security.”

The Islamic Movement vowed to continue demanding for the release of its leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, stressing that, “On a final note, we would like to state categorically that, we will not relent on our effort to enlighten the world about the atrocities committed by the trio of Federal government, Kaduna state government and the Nigerian Army (all under the influence of the Wahibi scholars like Prof. Labdo) against the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria during the month of December, 2015.

“Though, the Kaduna book presentation is ostensibly held to justify the Zaria massacre executed by the Army, we will like to assure those pseudo ulama that Zaria massacre will continue to hunt the memories of its organizers, financiers and executors forever.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/08/17/el-rufai-sponsoring-hate-speech-campaigns-us-shiites/

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Buhari refused to pay Boko Haram to release Leah Sharibu – Fani-Kayode

August 17, 2018

By Seun Opejobi

Femi Fani-Kayode, former Aviation Minister, on Friday reacted to a report by the United Nations, UN, which claimed that the Nigerian Government paid Boko Haram insurgents ransom for the release of schoolgirls abducted from Dapchi, Yobe State.

Fani-Kayode also maintained that President Muhammadu Buhari paid the terrorists for the release of the girls.

He said Buhari, however, refused to pay for the release of Leah Sharibu, the only Christian girl still in Boko Haram captivity.

The 22nd report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the UN’s Security Council stated that large ransom was paid to Boko Haram to secure the release of the over 100 schoolgirls kidnapped from a secondary school in Dapchi, Yobe State in February.

However, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has dismissed the report, saying no ransom was paid to Boko Haram terrorists.

Reacting to the report, Fani-Kayode, in a tweet wrote: “The UN has confirmed the fact that Buhari paid a huge ransom to Boko Haram for the return of the Dapchi girls. And what a scam it was!

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/08/17/buhari-refused-pay-boko-haram-release-leah-sharibu-fani-kayode/

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Nigerian soldiers demand break from Boko Haram

17 Aug 2018

Kano — Disillusioned, exhausted Nigerian troops battling a surge in Boko Haram attacks have reached breaking point and hundreds of soldiers protested at an airport in Borno State.

The protests, which took place less than six months before presidential elections, were dismissed by Nigeria’s army as a “misunderstanding”.

On Sunday the soldiers demonstrated at the airport of Maiduguri, for several hours, shooting into the air and disrupting flights.

They were furious about a planned redeployment to a battlefront in the Lake Chad region after fighting Boko Haram for years without relief.

“We should not have been here for more than a year but this is our fourth year and still they are asking us to move to Marte,” one of the soldiers told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We need rest. We are war-weary and need to see our families.”

The protest comes after a wave of assaults on military bases in the northeast, forcing the army to retreat and marking a Boko Haram comeback.

The resurgence of violence has put pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking a second term in office and maintains that the country is now in a “post-conflict stabilisation phase”.

Analysts say Nigeria has not faced such a serious threat from Boko Haram since the peak of the insurgency between 2013 and 2015, when it controlled swaths of territory in the country’s northeast.

“There has been a military evolution akin to what we’ve seen in Syria and Iraq,” said security analyst Yan St-Pierre.“Boko Haram’s quality of attack is higher, the level of preparedness is higher.”

The Nigerian military was overwhelmed by the “catastrophic security situation”, he added. “They are relying on old tactics no longer applicable in the northeast.”

Desperate to stop the onslaught, Nigeria’s military chief, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, said in a July 27 memo that “cowardly” soldiers would be punished by death.

Full report at:

https://mg.co.za/article/2018-08-17-00-nigerian-soldiers-demand-break-from-boko-haram

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