Bitcoin's use on darknet marketplaces and among cybercriminals has raised suspicions [Getty]
Rajasthan Hacking: As Accused Killed and Burnt, His Teen Nephew Filmed Hate-Murder, Say Cops
Army Chief Says Pakistan Should 'Revisit' Islamic Madrassa Schools
Saudi Cleric Says Digital Currency Bitcoin is Haram in Islam
Rohingya Refugees Hopeful the Pope Will Keep His Promise
Indonesia, Other Asian Muslim Countries Slam US Move on Jerusalem
What Trump Said In His Jerusalem Address That Should Appeal To Muslims
Agra: Muslim Scholars Claim Modi Throwing Baseless Aspersions on Islam
Venkaiah: If not your mother, who'd you salute, Afzal Guru?
AIMPLB member clarifies on Kapil Sibal’s contention in SC on Ayodhya
Pakistan Expresses ‘Grave Concern’ At Jerusalem Bombshell
Pakistan desires cooperation with Afghanistan on border security
Multi-party moot demands Fata-KP merger
Zardari, Imran and Qadri team up against Shehbaz
I believe in democracy, values: COAS
Damascus-Moscow-Beijing Triangle Shaping to Fight Terrorists in Syria, Chinese Elite Forces to Join Anti-Terror War
Defector Says Thousands of Islamic State Fighters Left Raqqa in Secret Deal
Major powers to push Saudi Arabia, Iran to stop interfering in Lebanon
ISIL Making Last Moves to Save Military Positions in Deir Ezzur
Syrian Army Makes Further Advances in Northeastern Hama
Bangladesh Won’t Accept US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital: Hasina
Move has hurt Muslim world and will jeopardize peace process: Kabul
Hefazat decries Jerusalem’s recognition as Israeli capital
Taliban leader in charge of prisons killed in Nangarhar operations
Rohingya refugees still fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh - UNHCR
Hamas Diaspora Head Hopes Malaysia Will Lead Opposition against Trump’s Decision on Jerusalem
Umno man sheds tears on stage over US move on Jerusalem
Videos of IS defectors used to expose truth about terrorism
The correct protest venue is the Saudi embassy, Muslims told
UN Human Rights Chief Calls Out Trump over Anti-Muslim Retweets
Trump asks Israel to restrain response to Jerusalem al-Quds move: Document
Trump’s recognition of al-Quds as Israel’s capital will have boomerang effect: Scholar
2,000 US troops in Syria, Pentagon finally admits
Bulgarian Parliament Moves to Criminalise Radical Islam, Support of Jihad, Sharia, Caliphate
Britons Who Join ISIS Should Be Hunted and Killed: Britain's Defence Minister
UN Security Council to meet Friday on Jerusalem
UK flays Muslim Brotherhood, defends Western policy
300 African Ulemas Gather in Fez to Promote Values of ‘Moderate Islam’
Human Rights Watch: Muslim Sufi Shrines At Risk Of Attacks In Libya
East African Bloc IGAD Trains Somalis On Counter Radicalization
Nigeria: Group Urges Execution of UN Resolutions against Israel
Iran: Holy Quds to Remain Islamic, Arabic in Identity
Hamas Calls for Palestinian Uprising In Response to Trump's Jerusalem Plan
Hezbollah chief: Trump's decision on Quds insults Muslims, violates intl. law
Iranian Parliament's Intifada Secretariat: US Move Means End to Two-State Solution
Palestinian official says US Vice President ‘not welcome’
20 Houthi gunmen killed, 11 captured in clashes near al-Khoukha
Yemeni official: What is happening in Yemen is ‘annihilation’
Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah fighters stage show of force in Sana’a
Israeli tank, aircraft attack Gaza security posts
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Rajasthan hacking: As accused killed and burnt, his teen nephew filmed hate-murder, say cops
by Deep Mukherjee
December 8, 2017
Inside a damp and unusually quiet house in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, Sita Regar sits with downcast eyes, occasionally pulling her veil, trying to ward off questions about her husband, Shambhulal Regar. A day after Regar, 36, killed a migrant labourer, Mohammed Afrazul, burnt his body, and circulated videos of the incident — purportedly recorded by his 14-year-old nephew — Sita has no answers. “I don’t know why he did this… My husband didn’t have a job… Most of the time, he would smoke marijuana and just roam the streets. But I never thought he was capable of murder,” said Sita.
The victim, Afrazul, 48, was a resident of Malda in West Bengal. In one of the videos, Regar is seen attacking Afrazul with an axe-like weapon, before burning the body. His other videos have communal rants against “love jihad” and Islam. Regar, who was absconding after the murder along with his minor nephew and 12-year-old daughter, was arrested on Thursday morning, from the house of a relative in Kelwa. Inspector General of Police, Udaipur range, Anand Shrivastava, said his nephew had also been detained.
Read | We want justice, says grieving family members
Sita claimed that Regar, a father of three, was mentally unstable, and they hadn’t heard from him after he left home on Wednesday morning. But IG Shrivastava said after preliminary investigation, they “found no reason to believe that Regar was mentally unstable”. He also contradicted the wife’s claim that Regar was a drug addict. “At present, it doesn’t look like Regar was addicted to drugs. Till a year ago, he had a fairly successful marble trading business,” he said. “We have also detained his minor nephew as it was he who shot the videos, including that of the murder,” he added.
While the police are yet to confirm the motive, Regar’s family claimed that a Hindu girl from their area had eloped with a Muslim man from West Bengal a few years ago. “The man used to be an associate of Afrazul. Her mother asked my brother to bring the girl back, and he did that. Since then, he had been receiving threats,” alleged Regar’s sister.
Read | Will seek death for accused, says DGP Om Prakash Galhotra
Speaking to mediapersons after his arrest, Regar claimed he had committed the murder because he felt “threatened”. “They ran away with a girl from our colony… I helped her, after which I got death threats. I knew the girl since childhood as her brother used to study with me. They gave me an ultimatum, that I would have to die,” he alleged.
But Afrazul’s cousin, Mohammed Salik Sheikh, denied this. “My brother had nothing to do with any such incident and all these allegations are baseless. He has three daughters back home and was nearing 50. Why would this incident from many years ago be the reason for his death,” he asked. In one of his videos shot after the murder, Regar has “warned” “Hindu sisters” not to fall into the trap of “love jihad”. He has made several inflammatory remarks, and also alleged that history was being “changed” under the influence of Islam, mentioning films like Padmavati and PK as well.
In one clip, he says that Babri Masjid was demolished 25 years ago, but “nothing has happened” in the subsequent years. He also launches a long diatribe about “Islamic jihad” in the country. “It appears that Regar meticulously planned the crime. We have found videos on his cellphone which were shot a day before the crime, in which he has made more inflammatory statements,” said IG Shrivastava.
Read | Civil society outfits, Opposition demand CM Vasundhara Raje’s resignation
Afrazul lived in Dhoinda, a village near Rajsamand town. According to his friends, Afrazul came to Rajasthan as a labourer 12 years ago, and had gradually established himself as a private contractor in Rajsamand. “We are around 150-200 people from West Bengal who live here in Rajsamand and earn our living by working as construction labourers. Afrazul never had enmity with anyone here,” said Mohammed Mosharraf Khan, his son-in-law.
“A man had been calling Afrazul since 5 am on Wednesday, asking him to come to a construction site for inspection… We last heard from him around 11 am, when he left for the place,” said Mohammed Aliul, his neighbour. “We are sure that this is not the work of only one man and is a conspiracy to create panic. We want the police to arrest all the perpetrators at the earliest and will submit a memorandum to the district collector on Friday,” said Iqbal Khan, secretary, Anjuman committee, Rajsamand.
Meanwhile, with Regar’s video clips being circulated on social media, Internet was blocked in Rajsamand on Thursday as a precautionary measure.
Army chief says Pakistan should 'revisit' Islamic madrassa schools
Dec 7, 2017
QUETTA: Pakistan's army chief on Thursday criticised madrassas that have mushroomed nationwide for mostly teaching only Islamic theology, saying the country needs to "revisit" the religious school concept.
Modernising madrassa education is a thorny issue in Pakistan, a deeply conservative Muslim nation where religious schools are often blamed for radicalisation of youngsters but are the only education available to millions of poor children.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa's remarks, apparently off-the-cuff during a prepared speech, were a rare example of an army chief criticising madrassas, which are often built adjacent to mosques and underpin Islamisation efforts by religious hardliners.
Bajwa said a madrassa education in Pakistan was inadequate because it did not prepare students for the modern world.
"I am not against madrassas, but we have lost the essence of madrassas," Bajwa told a youth conference in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
Bajwa said he was recently told that 2.5 million students were being taught in madrassas belonging to the Deobandi, a Sunni Muslim sub-sect that shares the beliefs of the strictly orthodox Wahhabi school of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula.
"So what will they become: will they become Maulvis (clerics) or they will become terrorists?" Bajwa asked, saying it was impossible to build enough mosques to employ the huge number of madrassa students.
"We need to look (at) and revisit the concept of madrassas...We need to give them a worldly education."
Pakistan has over 20,000 registered madrassas, though there are believed to be thousands more unregistered ones. Some are single-room schools with a handful of students studying the Koran.
Security services have kept a close eye on madrassas associated with radicalising youths and feeding recruits to Islamist militant outfits that have killed tens of thousands of people in the South Asian country since 2000.
But only a handful of the schools have been shut down, the authorities' hand stayed by fears of a religious backlash.
Islamist hardliners hold great sway in Pakistani society, with the capital, Islamabad, paralysed for nearly three weeks last month by a blockade staged by a newly formed ultra-religious party.
Bajwa said poor education was holding back the nation of 207 million people, and especially in madrassas.
"Most of them are just teaching theology. So what are their chances? What is their future in this country?"
The military last year proposed a plan to deradicalise religious hard-liners by "mainstreaming" some into political parties, a plan initially rejected by the civilian government but which now appears to be taking form.
December 7, 2017
“We know that bitcoins remain anonymous when you deal with it… which means that it’s an open gate for money laundering, drug money and haram money,” Al-Hakeem said during his program “Ask Zaad.”
“There is a lot of ambiguity, if I have dollars and you have euros and we want to exchange this is permissible in Islam with the condition that it is hand-to-hand…in virtual currencies you don’t have this,” he added.
The Saudi Cleric also argued during his show, that since Bitcoin is something “recent” and “new”, it has not been discussed by Islamic scholars in the past.
“Bitcoin is something recent and new and there are a lot of serious concerns when it comes to dealing with it whether it is from the origin where it came from, or the aspect of sustainability and security,” Al-Hakeem explained.
“This is not something physical you can touch, it is not a coin, it is not a banknote… it is something that is virtual… it is as if you are throwing your money in a vacuum,” he added.
As the cryptocurrency has exceeded record of USD 10,000, having seeing its trade value multiplied by 10 in less than a year, he voiced concerns over Bitcoin’s dizzying increase.
“As of today, one bitcoin that was worth 0.1 cents is now equivalent to USD 11,000 plus. This is ridiculous,” he said.
“Bitcoin in my opinion is haram, and Muslims should not get involved in such dubious transactions simply to make quick profit, this is not an Islamic concept,” he concluded.
The cleric’s ruling comes after Turkey’s top religious body also decreed that cryptocurrencies are incompatible with Islam because their value is “open to speculation” and they can be used in “illegal activities.”
Rohingya refugees hopeful the pope will keep his promise
Expectations are high among refugees in makeshift camps in Cox's Bazar days after Pope Francis met with 16 Rohingya refugees in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
On his way back to the Vatican, the pontiff admitted he wept during his Dec. 1 encounter with the Muslim refugees who have fled from religious persecution in Myanmar's neighboring Rakhine State.
"I have told the pope about what we have been through," 25-year old Sayeda Khatun told ucanews.com in the Rohingya language on Dec. 4.
She said Pope Francis assured her that "he would do everything possible to help us and to bring a peaceful solution" to the conflict in their homeland.
In an earlier interview after meeting the pope, the refugees said the pontiff promised to convince world leaders to help ease the tension in Rakhine State.
Foyez Ali Majhi whose village was razed to the ground by soldiers said the pope assured them that he would try to help get justice for the Rohingya.
According to the refugees, Pope Francis promised to convince world leaders to help facilitate an end to the persecution of the minority group, which number about 1.1 million.
He also vowed to tell the stories of their persecution on the international stage as he reiterated his appeal for continuous support for those living in refugee camps.
Rohingyas welcome pope's message
Although many in the refugee camps told ucanews.com they didn't know who Pope Francis was, they smiled when they were told about the pontiff's promise to help them.
Muhammad Abu Sayed, one of the leaders at the Nayapara refugee camp who met the pope, said people were eager to hear about their meeting.
The 35 year old from Maungdaw in Rakhine said the pope, aside from promising prayers, vowed to "work with world leaders and do whatever possible" to help the Rohingya.
"He said he would intervene so that we can live in peace in Burma (Myanmar)," Abu Sayed told ucanews.com outside his makeshift shelter in the middle of the camp.
He said the Rohingya "have great faith in Pope Francis and they believed in what the pope has promised to do."
"We expect that Pope Francis … will be able to bring an end to the plight of the Rohingya and help us get back home, and live in peace," he added.
He said he told the pope the Rohingya fled Myanmar "to save our lives."
Abu Sayed arrived at the refugee camp on the outskirts of Cox's Bazar in October after soldiers and extremist Rakhine Buddhists attacked his village and raped women.
"We have lost our homes and we have nowhere to go," he said, adding that before reaching Cox's Bazar after crossing a river into Bangladesh, he and his neighbors had moved from one village to another.
"We didn't want to leave but we were forced to do so to save ourselves," he said.
Conditions to return home
When the pope asked if he would be interested in going back home, Abu Sayed said the Rohingya will only go back if they are granted citizenship and their security is assured.
He said they also want to be compensated for the destruction of their homes and property.
"If we are repatriated, we must be settled in our own village not in any other place," he said, adding that they also demand justice for the killings, torture and the rape of women.
"All those responsible must be brought to justice. The mosques and madrasas or Islamic schools that were destroyed must be rebuilt," he said.
He also called for the release of all illegally-detained Rohingya and those in camps for internally displaced people in Myanmar.
"There should be no restriction on movement of the Rohingya," said Abu Sayed, adding that educated Rohingya men and women should be granted a quota of government jobs.
He said those living in refugee camps in Bangladesh are ready for repatriation but it should be done under the monitoring of international groups
"We don't trust the government (of Myanmar) because it cheated us (and) forced us to become refugees," he said.
Pope Francis' meeting with the 16 Rohingya refugees was seen as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the Muslim minority who have been persecuted for their religion.
"I wept, I tried to do it in a way that it couldn't be seen. They wept too," said the pontiff during his flight back to Rome on Dec. 3. "I told myself 'I cannot leave without saying a word to them,'" he added.
"In the name of all those who have persecuted you, who have harmed you, in the face of the world's indifference, I ask for your forgiveness," he told the refugees the day before.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in its "inter-sector coordination group" report released on Dec. 3 said 626,000 new refugees arrived in the camps in Cox's Bazar between Aug. 25 and Dec. 2 this year.
There were 1,622 arrivals alone in the week ending Dec. 2. The Bangladeshi Immigration and Passports Department has registered 730,654 Rohingya through its biometric registration system.
Bangladesh's Social Services Division has identified 36,373 separated and unaccompanied minors among the refugees who have arrived since August.
The IOM said "the speed and scale of the influx has resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency" especially because the people who have arrived in Bangladesh came with very few possessions.
The refugees rely on humanitarian assistance for food and basic services are under severe strain due to the number of people, especially in the Kutupalong and Nayapara refugee camps.
Many shelters and tents, which have sprung up in recent weeks, have no water and sanitation facilities. Lack of roads also limit access to these new camps, preventing aid reaching people.
The leaders of Muslim-majority Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh on Thursday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his announcement that the United States will move its embassy to the holy city from Tel Aviv.
The major shift in U.S. policy on the thorny issue of Jerusalem, which the American president announced Wednesday, shocked the Muslim world, which has rallied around the cause of Palestinian statehood. The move would destabilize peace efforts as well foment potential violence and terrorism, leaders and observers in Asia said.
“Indonesia strongly condemns the one-sided claim made by the U.S. in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. We urge the U.S. to reconsider the decision,” Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said Thursday.
“Such unilateral recognition has violated United Nations’ Security Council and General Assembly’s resolutions where the United States is a member. This can shake the stability of world security,” added the leader of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Move could fan radicalism: observers
In announcing the decision at the White House, Trump said the United States would support a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian state regarding the holy land for three major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
“Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul. With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region,” Trump said.
Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital while Palestinians see East Jerusalem as their future state capital. Muslims worldwide see the Al-Aqsa mosque, which sits on Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, as Islam’s third-holiest site.
Fifty years ago in June 1967, Israel seized East Jerusalem, the West Bank and other territories as it defeated the militaries of three neighboring Arab nations – Jordan, Egypt and Syria – in the Six-Day War.
In 1995, the U.S. congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act, calling for the embassy to move there from Tel Aviv by 1999. Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, presidents including Trump had issued waivers every six months to keep the embassy in place, citing national security interests.
“It will make the world situation worse and lead to an endless conflict,” said Helmy Faishal Zaini, general secretary of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s Muslim largest organization, reacting to Trump’s announcement.
“The decision will encourage radicalization among Muslims in reaction to the U.S.-created radicalism and global injustice,” said another prominent Indonesian Muslim leader, Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the Indonesia-Palestine Friendship Initiative (PPIP)
Anti-American protests over the announcement were expected following Friday prayers in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and the U.S. embassy in the Malaysian capital warned its citizens to be cautious.
Act of ‘aggression’ against Islam: Najib
In Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak spoke out against Trump’s announcement during a speech to the ruling United Malays National Party’s annual assembly.
“This week, we are shocked to hear the plan of the United States of America to recognize one of the three Holy Lands for the Muslim Ummah [community]… as the capital of Israel, I’m confident, we as Muslims cannot accept this,” Najib said.
“We must voice our stand clearly so that the world listens to the voice of the Muslims in Malaysia, that we reject forever and in the harshest terms the suggestion to make Baitul Maqdis [Al-Aqsa mosque] as the capital of Israel.”
Najib’s government also issued a statement about the U.S. announcement.
“It would have grave repercussions not only towards the security and stability of the region, but would inflame sentiments, making efforts to combat terrorism all the more difficult,” the statement said. It added that Malaysia recognizes the issue of Jerusalem at the core of the Palestinian cause.
“Any attempts to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, establishing or transferring any diplomatic mission to the city, are considered aggression not only against the Arab and Islamic Ummah, but are also infringements on the rights of Muslims and Christians alike,” the statement said.
In Bangladesh, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina joined a chorus from the Muslim world condemning and questioning the wisdom of the American president’s move.
“I think the Islamic world would not accept the suo moto [unilateral] announcement made by the U.S. president,” Hasina said. “I would urge all Muslim countries and the Islamic Ummah to get united so that the Palestinians can guarantee their just rights.”
‘An opportunity for a lasting peace’
Trump’s decision, however, has the official support of his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who has been at odds with the president over key areas of American foreign policy, according to U.S. media reports.
“President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aligns U.S. presence with the reality that Jerusalem is home to Israel’s legislature, Supreme Court, President’s office, and Prime Minister‘s office,” Tillerson said in a statement.
“We have consulted with many friends, partners, and allies in advance of the president making his decision. We firmly believe there is an opportunity for a lasting peace.”
By Tomer Persico
Whoever crafted President Trump’s Jerusalem address was well-informed. Trump’s speech aimed to sooth hurt Palestinian feelings and to assure them that even though he is diverging from previous U.S. policy, he would care for what was most important to them.
While recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump took care to mention that the final borders of Israeli sovereignty in the city are at the moment disputed and should be determined by both parties.
However, what was most significant for Palestinian and Muslim ears was the president’s emphasis, twice, on the current status of Jerusalem’s holiest and most contested site. Trump directly called for maintaining the “status quo” at “the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif.” Moreover, addressing the future, he noted that “Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall … and where Muslims worship at al-Aqsa Mosque.”
For the Western audience, these words seem like a banal affirmation of the obvious. For the Muslim world, and especially for Palestinians, they are of immense importance.
Trump’s words imply that as far as the United States is concerned, Jews will not be able to pray on the Temple Mount. In signaling that the current arrangement on the holy mountain will continue, Trump actually used, perhaps for the first time, a pro-Muslim dog whistle.
Trump’s gesture seems aimed to minimize the chances of a violent outburst from the Palestinian population. The president’s team knows that the core interests of Palestinians are connected directly to the holy site, quite above and beyond Jerusalem as a whole. The White House knows that the threat of change to the status quo on the site — which allows Jews to visit the mountain but not to engage in any religious activity there — served as a significant motivation for the violent cycles Israel experienced in the summers of 2014 and 2015. This July, another outburst was barely evaded only after Israel removed metal detectors it had placed at the entrances to the site.
The point is this: Concerning Jerusalem (and often the Middle East in general), it’s not about politics, but about identity. The Palestinian national identity is linked fundamentally to Haram al-Sharif. Its origins are rooted in the Ayyubid period (12th to 13th centuries), when the land’s Muslim rulers encouraged Islamic migration to Jerusalem, while providing a binding ethos: The city’s Muslim populace, veteran and recent, will become its holy site’s protectors. Since then, the Arabs around the holy city have conceived of themselves as defenders of the faith’s sacred site.
Furthermore, with Israel neutralizing the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem — closing its institutions, dismissing its leaders — the Palestinian population in and around the city has become depoliticized, underscoring Palestinians’ religious identity instead and further emphasizing their connection to the great mosque. Thus, whenever the impression arises that al-Aqsa is threatened, they react. The president’s words, therefore, aim to assure them that there is no such threat.
On the Jewish side, things are a bit more complicated. For most of the Zionist movement leaders in the past, the Temple Mount carried no specific appeal. Even after Israel’s conquest of the ancient city in the 1967 war, 50 years ago, what interested Israel’s leaders and Jewish populace was the Wailing Wall, not the mountain above it. Over the past two decades, however, the situation has dramatically changed, with the Temple Mount becoming for the secular right and the religious Zionists a focal point of nationalistic feelings and identity. The shift is correlated to the looming threat, from their point of view, of political compromise in Jerusalem as part of a peace initiative, and is parallel to a growing disappointment concerning the settlement project as a secure, reliable way to execute control over the land. For many, the Temple Mount has substituted the settlements as the central project and primary symbol of Israel’s sovereignty.
Accordingly, growing numbers of Israeli Jews ascend the Temple Mount, in a clearly stated attempt to exert domination on the site. The status quo, agreed upon since 1967, forbids Jewish worship at the site. But this point has become the focus of contention, with Temple Mount activists attempting to undermine it. These attempts contributed to violent escalations in the past. Indeed, in October 2015, after a wave of Palestinian terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to state clearly, “Muslims will pray on the Temple Mount, and non-Muslims will visit there.” That was the first time an Israeli prime minister had voiced a clear vocal agreement to the discriminatory conditions, as far as Jews are concerned, of the site’s status quo.
Trump’s words are the first such spoken from the president of the United States. They promise the Muslim world, and especially the Palestinians, that what is most important for them will be protected. For Israel, they represent a blow to any attempt to open the conditions of the arrangement on the Temple Mount. It seems that in exchange for a symbolic declaration concerning Israel’s capital, Trump has given the Palestinians actual achievement on al-Aqsa.
Tomer Persico is a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute and teaches in the department of comparative religion at Tel Aviv University.
Agra: Muslim scholars claim Modi throwing baseless aspersions on Islam
Reacting to PM Narendra Modi's recent statement against triple talaq in a public meeting in Gujarat, Muslim scholars have charged Modi for throwing baseless aspersions on Islam without knowing the facts.
In a meeting held in Agra on this issue, noted Muslim scholar Naseem Ahmed Advocate said that contrary to the general notion that is being spread by such statements being made by BJP leaders, that Muslim women are being oppressed by their religion, Islam grants women a number of rights, all of which have been mentioned in the Holy Quran and Hadith.
Quoting a verse from the Quran, he said it is clearly written in Surah Barqaran 2:228, "And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them according to what is equitable," while Surah Nisa 4:124 says "And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female while being a believer - these will enter Paradise and will not be wronged."
Mufti Mudassar Ali Khan Qadri said that Surah An-Nisa 4:129 says "If a woman fears either ill-treatment or aversion from her husband it is not wrong for the husband and wife to bring about reconciliation among themselves (by compromising on their rights), for settlement is better.
Man's soul is always prone to selfishness, but if you do good and are God-fearing, then surely Allah is aware of the things you do." Which means that the matter of talaq is something between husband, wife and Allah and if the two agree on something, then only Allah is the One who can decide what is just and what is not.
He said that the first step towards settling any marital dispute is a mutual attempt for reconciliation as mentioned in Surah An-Nisa 4:129 and the Prophet himself had frowned upon talaq and instructed the believers to avoid it. Surah Nisa 9:71 clearly says that "The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayers and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger."
Social activist Syed Irfan Saleem said that Islam regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul i.e. the equivalent position. In the Islamic perspective, a woman has an honoured position with assured respect, love, affection and gentle feeling along with her legal and civil rights. She plays multiple roles of the compassionate mother, the beloved wife and the affectionate daughter which is explained in verse 46:15 of the Quran, "We have enjoined man to be kind to his parents. His mother has carried him in travail, and bore him in travail, and his gestation and weaning take thirty months. When he comes of age and reaches forty years, he says My Lord! Inspire me to give thanks for Your blessing with which you have blessed me and my parents, and that I may do righteous deeds which may please You and invest my descendants with righteousness. Indeed I have turned to you in penitence and I am one of the Muslims".
He said that there is an instance which highlights Prophet's tender love affection for the womenfolk. Prophet had a daughter Fatimah whom he loved very deeply and tenderly and used to say "Fatimah is a part of me; whoever wrongs her wrongs me and whoever pleases her pleases me." He used to visit her frequently and on his return from any journey, calling on her first before going to his home. Whenever she approached him, his eyes glowed with joy. He would take her in his arms, kiss her warmly and offer her his own seat. This is an ideal model for the mankind, of love and respect to the womenfolk.
He said that the general perception about Islamic society being unjust to women needs to change, but statements like what are being made in the media about so-called injustices meted out to the women in Islam are giving an entirely incorrect picture to the society. He said that Islam was the first religion to give equal property right to women whereas other religions are yet to give them the same rights.
Dec 8, 2017
NEW DELHI: Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, while releasing a book on late VHP chief Ashok Singhal on Thursday, wondered why some had a problem in chanting 'Vande Mataram'. "If not your mother, who would you salute, Afzal Guru," Naidu asked.
'Vande Mataram' means salute to the motherland.
"Vande Mataram mane maa tujhe salam. Kya samasya hai? Agar maa ko salam nahi karenge to kya Afzal Guru ko salam karenge? (Vande Mataram means salute to mother. What is the problem with it, if you don't salute your mother, who would you salute, Afzal Guru)," the vice-president said.
He said when someone says 'Bharat Mata ki jai' it is not only about some goddess in a photo. "It is about all 125 crore people living in this country irrespective of their caste, colour, creed and religion. They all are Indians," Naidu said.
Mentioning the Supreme Court's 1995 verdict on Hindutva which says it is not a religion but a way of life, he said, "Hinduism is not a narrow concept, it is a broader cultural connotation of India." Hinduism is the culture and tradition of India which has been passed down generations, Naidu said.
Naidu attributed the non-violent nature of Indians to Hinduism saying, "Every Tom, Dick and Harry attacked India, ruled it, ruined and looted it, but India never attacked any country because of its culture." Our culture teach us Vasudev Kutumbkam, that means the world is one family, he said.
Also present at the book launch was RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi. He said Singhal worked hard to realise the dream of building Ram Temple in Ayodhya. "Now he might have gone but we should not forget his goal," he said.
Full report at:
A senior member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) today while referring to Kapil Sibal’s contention in the Supreme Court over deferment of hearing in the Ayodhya case said that the eminent lawyer had only gone by the discussions held with the board.
“Whatever Kapil Sibal said in the court has got nothing to do with the Congress nor with the Sunni Waqf Board…The stand was taken in consultation with senior members of the Board who had held a meeting in New Delhi in this connection on December 4,” Zafaryab Jilani, who is also a senior counsel, told PTI here.
The board’s general secretary, secretary and some other senior members held deliberations about the hearing that was to start a day later and discussed a four-page note prepared by senior counsel Yusuf Hatim Muchchala in this regard, he said.
The note emphasised that in case of a day-to-day hearing, the atmosphere of the country could be communalised and could also have an impact on the elections.
It was felt that this matter need not be made an election issue and therefore the hearing should be taken up after the completion of the election, Jilani said.
The same note was handed over to Sibal, who read a portion of it in the court, Jilani said.
To a question on the Sunni Waqf Board dissociating itself from Sibal’s contention, Jilani said that it was true but it was because of some clerical mistake that Sibal’s name found mention as a senior advocate of the Waqf Board.
Sibal was fielded by the AOR (advocate on record) of Hashim Ansari’s son Iqbal Ansari, Jilani said.
Hashim Ansari, one of the oldest members of Babri Masjid Action Committee and a litigant in the case, died last year at the age of 95 due to heart-related complications.
Pakistan expresses ‘grave concern’ at Jerusalem bombshell
6 December 2017
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani officials and political parties have expressed their shock at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Trump was expected to make the formal announcement on Wednesday, setting in motion the process of shifting the US Embassy from Tel Aviv and essentially killing off any future prospect of a two-state solution.
A statement issued by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s office on Wednesday evening said: “The people and the government of Pakistan have noted with grave concern the reported move by the US to shift its embassy to the occupied city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, thereby altering the legal and historical status of the city.”
It added: “Such a step would constitute a clear violation of international law and UN Security Council resolutions. It would also sidestep decades of global consensus on this issue, undermine regional peace and security, as well as derail any prospects for a lasting peace in the Middle East.”
Key lawmaker and leader of the House in Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said Muslim nations should convene a summit to discuss Trump’s decision.
Talking to Arab News, Sen. Haq said: “It will create a dangerous environment not only for the Middle East but for the world at large.”
The senator fears “the development will also hamper the efforts for peace in the region.”
He added that Trump’s decision will have a “negative impact on global peace and the US should rather play a positive role.”
“It’s condemnable,” opposition leader Ali Awan, of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), told Arab News. “Trump hurt the sentiments of all Muslims across the world.”
Jamaat-e-Islami Deputy Chief Fareed Paracha has called on the government of Pakistan to prepare for a shift in relations with the US.
Paracha, a member of Pakistan’s largest religious party, told Arab News “the country will have to change its stance with the United States” if Trump’s decision is not reversed.
Political pundits and foreign relations experts believe religious political parties will incite anti-American sentiments and protests across the country.
“The majority of religious parties… may make this issue serious by coming on the streets and roads and public opinion may get worse against the US, which may damage the US goals in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which would lead to a decline in cooperation with US authorities,” said analyst Qamar Cheema.
“This is a sensitive issue in Pakistan because Muslims believe they have been squeezed and pushed by the US and Israel and the international community looks at issues of the Muslim world from a jaundiced perspective.”
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that the Pakistan-Afghanistan border must be secured enough to keep terrorists from crossing “at free will,” reports Voice of America.
He told VOA Urdu in an interview that the Afghan government’s change in priorities — focusing on protecting urban areas — has given the Taliban and other extremist groups room to roam freely in a growing patchwork in the rest of the country.
“Pakistan has been cautioning for a long time that the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan will act as a magnet for the militants of the world,” Chaudhry said. “I think the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.”
He repeated Pakistan’s claims that it is not harbouring any terror groups despite US president Donald Trump’s insistence, as part of his new strategy for the region, that Islamabad must do more to crack down on extremists.
“In Pakistan itself, there is no organized presence of ISIS,” Chaudhry said, criticizing Afghanistan’s claims that Islamic State fighters are filtering in from Pakistan. “Don’t create distractions by saying they come from Pakistan. We can never tolerate the presence of Daesh [ISIS] in Pakistan.”
Pakistan says recent military operations have chased terrorists from the country.
“In the last three years, we have done a lot, not for the sake of any other country, but for our own people,” Chaudhry said. “We have defeated the forces of terrorism. The terrorists are on the run. There is no safe haven in Pakistan. The safe havens have moved into Afghanistan. That is where the focus of action should be.”
He called for closer cooperation between the two countries’ intelligence agencies and militaries.
“One major area to work on is border management,” Chaudhry said. “We both must make sure the terrorists cannot cross the border at free will. Let’s secure that border.”
Pakistan has been building a border wall and has repeatedly closed the main border crossings, shutting down trade between the two countries for extended periods.
December 08, 2017
PESHAWAR: A multi-party conference on Thursday demanded of the federal government to merge the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the light of recommendations of Sartaj Aziz committee report and resolutions of the parliament.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Sami had organised the conference here, which was attended by leaders of Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Awami National Party, and parliamentarians from Fata and tribal elders. Maulana Samiul Haq chaired the moot.
A joint statement issued at the end of the conference expressed concern over delay in implementation of the report of six-member committee, headed by Sartaj Aziz. It said that the committee spent 11 months on the report and sought opinion of the elders and civil society.
The statement said that the federal cabinet, Senate and National Assembly had approved the report while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government had also endorsed the merger plan. In addition, the mainstream political parties and an overwhelming majority of the tribal population were also demanding implementation of the report.
Despite that the federal government has delayed the reforms process in the area. The government should immediately implement the report of the committee and adopt practical measures for the Fata-KP merger.
The statement said that the government should focus on improvement of health, education, drinking water and other basic infrastructure in Fata. It said that the government should not take into consideration opposition by few personalities and declare Fata as part of KP.
DECEMBER 8, 2017
LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Thursday joined hands with Pakistan Awami Tehreek in its demand for resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif over his alleged role in the Model Town tragedy.
Former president Asif Zardai called on Tahir ul Qadri at the Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Lahore and held a meeting, also attended by Khurram Nawaz Gandapur, Manzoor Watto and Qamar Zaman Kaira.
Later at a joint press conference, the PPP leader demanded the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif for his ‘role’ in the Model Town incident of 2014. “After this report, he (Shehbaz) stands condemned. And a condemned man is not capable of being the CM of the largest province of Pakistan,” said Zardari, referring to the Model Town inquiry tribunal report that was made public on Tuesday (December 5), three years after the incident.
“Enough is enough. Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz also has to resign and come in front of the court,” Zardari said. “We have come here to express our solidarity with Allama sahib. Now we will not tolerate Shehbaz. Now we will fight and take to streets with him (Qadri),” he added.
PAT chief Tahir ul Qadri also reiterated his party’s demand seeking criminal charges against Shehbaz. “We are willing to do all that is necessary – within the ambit of the law, that our constitution allows – to ensure our demands are met,” he said, a day after calling on his supporters to ‘prepare’ his container for another sit-in.
Qadri said the Model Town inquiry report clearly indicated Shehbaz Sharif as a ‘murderer’. “The barriers [around Minhajul Quran Secretariat] were lawful and no one had objected to them for three years. The force which was sent used unlawful means. They were there to drop bodies and not remove barriers,” he said of the incident which took place on June 17, 2014.
The PAT chief alleged the entire operation had been conducted under the supervision of Rana Sanaullah. “People, who say the report is not conclusive, are lying,” he said, adding that anyone who reads the report prepared by Justice Baqir Najfi commission will know who was responsible for the Model Town tragedy.
“Rana Sanaullah should step down and surrender himself to law,” he demanded.
“We will take steps, with in the ambit of the law and the constitution, to bring those responsible for Model Town incident to justice,” Qadri announced.
PTI chairman Imran Khan had earlier in the day promised his support to Qadri to get justice for those killed and injured in the Model Town incident after police opened fire on PAT supporters following the clashes.
During a phone call, Khan assured Qadri that PTI would join PAT if it decided to launch protest against government’s failure to nab the culprits. Both leaders decided to chalk out a joint strategy in this regard. “Senior leaders of both parties will soon meet to work out a joint strategy,” said a statement issued by the PTI.
Talking to media outside an anti-terrorism court earlier, Khan alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Law Minister Rana Sanaullah were behind the Model Town incident. “Both of them should be put behind bars immediately as Justice Baqir Najafi’s report exposed all their lies about the incident,” he said.
He said he wanted to assure Qadri that PTI would join him whenever he announced protest against Punjab government over the case. “I will request all Pakistanis to come forward and protest against those killings to give a clear message to the rulers in Punjab that people will no longer tolerate killing of innocent citizens,” the PTI chief said.
PML-N leader and son of Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz meanwhile called Dr Tahir ul Qadri an ‘enemy of democracy’.
QUETTA: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Thursday said that he believes in democracy and democratic values of selfless service and supremacy of moral authority.
“Army is a state institution meant to serve the nation…it shall continue to perform its role while national security and development remains a national obligation for all state institutions,” he told a seminar on ‘Human Resource Development for Youth of Balochistan – Opportunities and Challenges’ in Quetta, according to a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). “All of us have a duty to the nation,” Gen Bajwa maintained. In his address, the COAS mentioned that currently over 25,000 Baloch students were receiving quality education at various army and Frontier Corps-run schools and cadet colleges all over Pakistan.
“Nearly 20,000 sons of Balochistan are serving in army including over 600 as officers while 232 cadets are undergoing training at PMA Kakul,” he said, adding that the number gets even higher when taken into account Baloch youth in Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy and other law enforcement agencies. “Our future is bright and our youth is fully capable of taking on the mantle. Balochi youth is as capable as youth of any area of Pakistan,” he remarked.
Dec 07, 2017
"The number of Chinese Special Forces in Syria is likely to hit 5,000," the Russian-language Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported.
The Russian newspaper pointed to the scarce presence of the Chinese army in its extraterritorial conflicts except for few during the past century, and wrote that the Chinese army by rendering military assistance to the Syrian government has gained experience of real war and it will test it modern weapons in Syria as the Russian army did there.
It noted that the Chinese military units not only will cooperate with Damascus, but they will also fully coordinate with the Russian military forces.
The newspaper wrote that a joint military unit might be formed among China, Russia and Syria.
In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced that Chinese Special Forces are would arrive soon in Syria to take part in combat against terrorist groups.
The Russian center said that the Chinese forces will soon arrive in Syria to intensify attacks on the Islamic al-Turkistani Party that have been detected by the Syrian Army troops.
The center quoted sources in the Chinese Defense Ministry as saying that the Chinese Army's Night Tigers and Siberian Tigers affiliated to counter-terrorism forces will soon arrive in Syria to attack Eastern-Islamic Turkistan Movement in Damascus province.
The Arabic-language al-Watan online reported on Monday that members of the Islamic al-Turkistan party clashed with the rival terrorists of Ansar Turkistan in the Abu al-Dhohour airbase in Southeastern Idlib for the first time.
The al-Watan quoted sources close to the warring sides as saying that differences over how to lead the war against the army caused the infighting between the Islamic al-Turkistan party and Ansar Turkistan.
It added that the army troops have deployed only 17 km away from the airbase from its Eastern direction.
Al-Watan went on to say that al-Turkistani party has recently joined the Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board), participating in battle against the army men close to the village of al-Mastariheh.
Defector says thousands of Islamic State fighters left Raqqa in secret deal
DECEMBER 7, 2017
ANKARA (Reuters) - A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city’s fall, saying thousands of IS fighters - many more than first reported - left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal.
Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the SDF arranged to bus all remaining Islamic State militants out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling diehard foreign jihadists in the city.
U.S. officials described Silo’s comments as “false and contrived” but a security official in Turkey, where Silo defected three weeks ago, gave a similar account of Islamic State’s defeat in its Syrian stronghold. Turkey has been at odds with Washington over U.S. backing for the Kurdish forces who led the fight for Raqqa.
Silo was the SDF spokesman and one of the officials who told the media in mid-October - when the deal was reached - that fewer than 300 fighters left Raqqa with their families while others would fight on.
However, he told Reuters in an interview that the number of fighters who were allowed to go was far higher and the account of a last-ditch battle was a fiction designed to keep journalists away while the evacuation took place.
He said a U.S. official in the international coalition against Islamic State, whom he did not identify, approved the deal at a meeting with an SDF commander.
At the time there were conflicting accounts of whether or not foreign Islamic State fighters had been allowed to leave Raqqa. The BBC later reported that one of the drivers in the exodus described a convoy of up to 7 km (4 miles) long made up of 50 trucks, 13 buses and 100 Islamic State vehicles, packed with fighters and ammunition.
The Turkish government has expressed concern that some fighters who left Raqqa could have been smuggled across the border into Turkey and could try to launch attacks there or in the West.
“Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families,” Silo said, adding that all but about 500 were fighters.
He said they headed east to Islamic State-controlled areas around Deir al-Zor, where the Syrian army and forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad were gaining ground.
For three days the SDF banned people from going to Raqqa, saying fighting was in progress to deal with militants who had not given themselves up.
“It was all theater,” Silo said.
“The announcement was cover for those who left for Deir al-Zor”, he said, adding that the agreement was endorsed by the United States which wanted a swift end to the Raqqa battle so the SDF could move on towards Deir al-Zor.
U.S. AT ODDS WITH ALLY TURKEY
It was not clear where the evacuees from Raqqa ended up.
The Syrian Democratic Forces deny that Islamic State fighters were able to leave Raqqa for Deir al-Zor, and the U.S.-led military coalition which backs the SDF said it “does not make deals with terrorists”.
“The coalition utterly refutes any false accusations from any source that suggests the coalition’s collusion with ISIS,” it said in a statement.
However, a Turkish security official said that many more Islamic State personnel left Raqqa than was acknowledged. “Statements that the U.S. or the coalition were engaged in big conflicts in Raqqa are not true,” the official added.
He told Reuters Turkey believed those accounts were aimed at diverting attention from the departure of Islamic State members, and complained that Turkey had been kept in the dark.
Ankara, a NATO ally of Washington’s and a member of the U.S.-led coalition, has disagreed sharply with the United States over its support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters who spearheaded the fight against Islamic State in Raqqa.
Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency in southeast Turkey and is designated a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.
Silo spoke to Reuters in a secure location on the edge of Ankara in the presence of Turkish security officers. He said the security was for his own protection and he denied SDF assertions that he had been pressured into defecting by Turkey, where his children live.
A member of Syria’s Turkmen minority, Silo said his decision to speak out now was based on disillusionment with the structure of the SDF, which was dominated by Kurdish YPG fighters at the expense of Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian allies, as well as the outcome in Raqqa, where he said a city had been destroyed but not the enemy.
The Raqqa talks took place between a Kurdish SDF commander, Sahin Cilo, and an intermediary from Islamic State whose brother-in-law was the Islamic State “emir” in Raqqa, Silo said.
After they reached agreement Cilo headed to a U.S. military base near the village of Jalabiya. “He came back with the agreement of the U.S. administration for those terrorists to head to Deir al-Zor,” Silo said.
Major powers will try to shore up Lebanon’s stability on Friday by pushing Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop interfering in its politics, and urging Hezbollah to rein in its regional activities, diplomats said.
Lebanon plunged into crisis on Nov. 4 when Saad al-Hariri resigned as prime minister while he was in Saudi Arabia, saying he feared assassination and criticizing the Saudis’ regional arch-rival Iran along with its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
After international pressure and negotiations between Lebanese political factions, he rescinded his resignation on Tuesday and his coalition government, which includes Hezbollah, reaffirmed a state policy of staying out of conflicts in Arab states.
The International Lebanon Support Group (GIS), a body that includes the five members of the U.N. Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - meets in Paris on Friday to try to reinforce Hariri’s hand to prevent a new escalation.
“At a moment of great international tension ... we need to send the message of sovereignty, stability and security to all the Lebanese sides, its partners and those who have an influence in the country,” said a senior French diplomat, whose country played a key role in helping Hariri return to Beirut.
“We need to de-escalate the situation in the region and believe the effort needs to start with Lebanon because it’s a country where all actors can compromise and through that show a path to negotiations elsewhere,” he said.
Saudi concern over the influence wielded by Shi‘ite Muslim Iran and Hezbollah in other Arab states had been widely seen as the root cause of the crisis, which raised fears for Lebanon’s economic and political stability.
The Lebanese policy of “dissociation” was declared in 2012 to keep the deeply divided state out of regional conflicts such as the civil war in neighboring Syria. Despite the policy, Hezbollah is heavily involved there, sending thousands of fighters to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The keyword of the final declaration will be to support the disassociation policy,” a second French diplomat said.
He said that while the diplomatic language for the final declaration would not single out any party, the message was that Saudi Arabia and Iran should not influence Lebanese politics and that Hezbollah should rein in its regional activities.
“Friday’s meeting isn’t anti-Saudi or anti-Iranian, it’s pro-Lebanon,” he said.
Highlighting the difficulties of upholding such a policy, Hezbollah backed calls on Thursday for a new Palestinian uprising in reaction to U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Those attending Friday’s meeting are also set to back efforts to strengthen the Lebanese army and set up an investment conference for Lebanon once legislative elections take place.
Dec 07, 2017
The ISIL arrested several of its senior commanders, including Mohammad Hossein al-Deiri, nom du guerre Abu Seif al-Shaiti, and Abdulmajid al-Khalaf al-Qadir, nom du guerre Abu Omar al-Zubeidi, by raiding their residences, the local sources said.
The sources said that Abu Seif was one of the most senior ISIL commanders who paved the way for the terrorist group to dominate over Deir Ezzur, and played an important role in the massacre of al-Shaitat by the ISIL in summer 2014.
The ISIL has charged the arrested commanders of espionage and also attempts to escape.
In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army continued its military operations against the ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur, and regained control of several regions and villages there.
The Syrian army units clashed with ISIL terrorists South of Al-Mayadeen in Eastern Deir Ezzur and took control of al-Laij, al-Shamr and al-Sabkheh villages in that area.
A number of terrorists were killed and many more were injured in fierce clashes with the government troops.
In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army troops managed to push the ISIL back from almost 10 more regions in Southeastern Homs, killing tens of terrorists.
The army men continued their fight against ISIL Southeast of the town of al-Mayadeen towards the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur and captured Jabal (mount) al-Narousiyeh, Tal (hill) al-Khanzir, Tal al-Bani and Moweiha al-Mowaja.
The army men also took control over the towns of al-Taresh, al-Abbas and al-Mar'ei Shamar and Shamar Farm and al-Tutehiyeh region on the Western bank of the Euphrates River.
Tens of the ISIL members were killed and a number of their military and bomb-laden vehicles and a large volume of their arms and ammunition were seized by the army men in the clashes Southeast of al-Mayadeen.
Earlier reports said that the army troops continued to advance against the ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur and managed to drive terrorists out of three more regions.
The Syrian army units engaged in heavy clashes with Al-Nusra Front terrorists in Northeastern Hama, and advanced towards Tal-e al-Rahjan and al-Rahjan Farm from two directions.
Meantime, the Syrian air force heavily pounded the terrorists' military positions in Northeastern Hama, specially al-Rahjan village, and inflicted heavy losses on the terrorists.
Reports from Northern Hama said on Wednesday that tens of Al-Nusra (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) terrorists have been killed in the Syrian army's ground and air raids in the region.
The Syrian army troops engaged in tough battle with Al-Nusra Front terrorists in the village of al-Rahjan in Northern Hama, killing tens of the militant and destroying their military equipment.
Meantime, the Syrian air force also pounded the supply routes of terrorists in Abu Dali, al-Balil Sharqi and Tal Khanzir village.
A battlefield source also confirmed that tens of Al-Nusra Front terrorists were killed and wounded in the military operations of the Syrian army and air force. The terrorists' military hardware were also destroyed.
In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army troops warded off a heavy attack of Al-Nusra Front terrorists who tried to recapture lost positions in Northeastern Hama.
The army men engaged in heavy fighting with Al-Nusra terrorists after they attacked the army positions in the villages of al-Shakousiyeh and Um Mayal and fended of their attack.
A large number of Al-Nusra members were killed in the failed attack and their remaining pockets were forced to retreat from the battlefield.
In the meantime, the army's artillery units hit Al-Nusra's positions and movements badly near the villages of Eidoun and al-Dalak West of the town of al-Salamiyah, killing a number of militants and destroying their equipment.
Relevant reports said on Monday that the artillery and missile units shelled the Al-Nusra positions close to the village of al-Rahjan in Northeastern Hama, inflicting major losses on the militants.
Also, the army aircraft bombed heavily the Al-Nusra strongholds in the villages of al-Rahjan and Shakousiyeh, killing a number of terrorists.
Bangladesh won’t accept US recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital: Hasina
Speaking at a media briefing in Dhaka, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday said it is only natural that President Trump’s announcement is not acceptable to the Muslim nations.
“There’s a UN resolution on this and no-one will accept the announcement disregarding it,” she said.
Arabs and Muslims across the Middle East on Wednesday condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital as an incendiary move in a volatile region. The Palestinians said Washington was abandoning its leading role as a peace mediator.
The European Union, US’s major ally, and the United Nations also voiced alarm at Trump's decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and its repercussions for any chances of reviving Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.
The Bangladesh prime minister said the Palestinians have the right for their own state and that the 1967 border has to be reinstated. “In line with that agreement, East Jerusalem has to be the capital of Palestine.”
Referring to the 2000 peace effort brokered by the then President Bill Clinton, Hasina said, “It’s the US that started the effort to end the conflict. In fact, a Nobel Peace prize was awarded for it, and now they are jeopardising it.”
Hasina called on the Muslim world to unite against the unilateral decision.
After her briefing, the foreign minister also issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the US decision.
“Bangladesh stresses on preserving the legal status of Jerusalem within the framework of relevant UN resolutions,” the statement said.
“Bangladesh reaffirms its position in favour of establishing the State of Palestine on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Bangladesh also urged all related parties to take a “pragmatic approach” to the Middle East Peace Process in reaching a two-state solution for peace and stability in the region.
8 December 2017
KABUL: The decision of US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was largely condemned by the Afghan government and public, and the Taliban militants who were fighting to expel US-led forces from the country.
In a statement that came long after the announcement of the US president’s decision, and after many Islamic nations had condemned it, the Afghan presidential palace said it was deeply concerned about the move.
“Realizing the grave concern of the Afghan people and the Muslims of the world, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has expressed its reservations and concern through diplomatic channels on the recognition of Jerusalem [as Israel’s new capital] and relocation of the US embassy, to the leadership of that country.”
The move has hurt the Muslim world and will “jeopardize the peace process in the Middle East,” it said, adding that the Afghan government and people wanted the restoration of the “right of Palestinian people to have an independent state.”
Shortly after Trump’s announcement, many Afghan social media users termed the step another major affront to the Islamic world.
“Trump’s announcement … for the sake of appeasing Israel is an affront to 1.5 billion Muslims and is against all the legal and humanitarian norms,” said Fazlullah Mumtaz, an Islamic cleric.
Qazi Nazir Ahmad Hanafi, a lawmaker of the Afghan parliament, said the house had condemned the move even prior to the announcement.
“This is an unforgivable crime committed by malevolent America. The US has greatly weakened the Muslim world through its direct and proxy wars, gradually implementing its evil designs one after the other,” he told Arab News.
“The Islamic nations and Muslims should rise against this decision in all corners of the world.”
One Afghan, echoing the sentiments of an unknown number of Afghans, said that the slow reaction from President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which relies on US military and financial aid, showed that Ghani was merely an “American man” for failing to condemn Trump’s announcement like the rest of the Islamic World.
Rasoul Sayyaf, a leader for the former Mujahideen factions that fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, said that the US had caused Muslims “an irreparable loss.”
The Taliban, who were ousted from government by the US in 2001, also attacked the announcement.
December 07, 2017
Several Islamic political parties have already demonstrated protests in Dhaka since the US President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
Hefazat-e-Islam, along with several Islamic political parties of the country, is all set to bring out a demonstration in Dhaka on Friday protesting the recent announcement by US President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
Hefazat Ameer Shah Ahmad Shafi and Secretary General Junaid Babunagari strongly condemned the US president’s announcement over Jerusalem – a holy city to Muslims, Christians and Jews – which is also known as the City of Peace.
Also Read- PM Hasina: Jerusalem’s recognition not acceptable to Muslim world
They said the US presidency had unleashed a war against the Muslim community by making the announcement.
World Muslim leaders and public should be united in protest against such an aggressive decision, they added.
Also Read- Dhaka concerned over US recognition of Israeli capital
The Hefazat leaders further said Jerusalem is not only a holy land land for Palestinian Muslims, but it was a holy land for the entire Muslim community as Islam’s first qibla, Baitul Mukaddas, is situated in this city.
Jerusalem is even more precious than the blood of Muslims and it can never be given to the Jewish group, they said.
Shafi and Junaid questioned the image of the US and said Donald Trump’s announcement was a serious threat to world peace.
Dec 07 2017
A senior Taliban leader who was in charge of the group’s prisons in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan has been killed in an operation of the Afghan Special Forces.
The provincial government media office in a statement said the Taliban leader identified as Nabi who was also famous as Ghorzang was killed during an operation in Hesarak district.
The statement further added that Nabi was among at least fourteen militants killed during the operation which was conducted on Wednesday night.
According to the provincial government, the Taliban shadow district chief for Hesarak Abdul Hasan who was also famous as Hajiz was also killed during the operation along with the shadow education director of the group who was identified as Yar Mohammad.
A compound of the group which was used as a customs house by the militants was also destroyed during the operation, the statement added.
The local officials are saying that the security forces and the civilians did not suffer any casualties during the operation.
7 December 2017
Rohingya refugees continue to flee Myanmar for Bangladesh even though both countries set up a timetable last month to allow them to start to return home, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.
The number of refugees appears to have slowed. 625,000 have arrived since Aug. 25. 30,000 came last month and around 1,500 arrived last week, UNHCR said
“The refugee emergency in Bangladesh is the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world,” said deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements. “Conditions in Myanmar’s Rakhaine state are not in place to enable a safe and sustainable return ... refugees are still fleeing.”
“Most have little or nothing to go back to. Their homes and villages have been destroyed. Deep divisions between communities remain unaddressed and human access is inadequate,” she said.
Bangladesh and Myanmar agreed on Nov. 23 to start the return of Rohingya within two months. It did not say when the process would be complete.
Myanmar’s security forces may be guilty of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, according to the top UN human rights official this week. Mainly Buddhist Myanmar denies the Muslim Rohingya are its citizens and considers them foreigners.
Hamas Diaspora head hopes Malaysia will lead opposition against Trump’s decision on Jerusalem
December 8, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Palestine’s Head of Hamas in Diaspora, Maher Salah, today expressed the hope that Malaysia would lead a political effort to stand up against United States President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
He said Malaysia should use its influence and respect in the Arab and Muslim world to lead the effort at different levels to fight “the blatant decision” on the Holy City which had been rejected by most countries in the world, including those in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
“Our people on the ground in Palestine, in the Arab and Muslim world, and other countries will express their anger and rejection of the decision today after the Friday prayers.
“We will fight against this decision. It’s not to be implemented. This is the capital of Palestine, it will always be a Palestinian, Muslim and Arabic city, and it is holy for the Muslims and Christians,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on the Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, at Parliament House.
Salah and Kiandee discussed the stand of the Malaysian government and parliament in rejecting Trump’s decision, which Salah said was very clear and represented all the Malaysian people.
The New York Times reported that Trump on Wednesday formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and setting in motion a plan to move the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to the fiercely contested Holy City.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his policy speech at the Umno General Assembly yesterday said Malaysia would never accept the proposal to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Asked if there was a possibility for the next Intifada (Palestine uprising against Israel), Salah smiled and said: “We have seen the first sparks of the next Intifada”.
Kiandee said he hoped that the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would be evaluated thoroughly as it was important for the decision to not negatively affect the peace process.
“As members of parliament, we support the move by the government, the announcement by the Prime Minister yesterday and the statement issued by the Foreign Minister calling on President Trump to look into the decision again as it will negatively impact the ongoing peace process between Israel and Palestine,” he said.
Later, Georgia’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Nikoloz Apkhazava, paid a courtesy call on Kiandee, also at Parliament House. ― Bernama
BY RAM ANAND
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 ― Ahmad Syazwan Shah Headan who heads the UK Umno club broke down in tears today while delivering a speech on the US government’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The London-based student was speaking on what Malaysian youths studying abroad wanted to see in their home country’s response to shifting global geopolitics while debating the president’s speech at the 71st Umno general assembly here.
“What are we, if we can’t even defend Jerusalem?” he asked in tears, and related it to Umno’s call for unity for the coming 14th general elections.
He added that the decision by the US government under its president Donald Trump would roil the situation in the Middle East.
Jerusalem is regarded as a holy city by Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities worldwide and arguments over its status have been the thorniest subjects to a lasting peace between the Zionist regime of Israel and mainly Muslim Palestine.
Malaysia has long been sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle over its lost lands.
Several other Umno delegates were seen shedding tears during Ahmad Syazwan’s speech.
Trump yesterday announced the US government’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the new Israeli capital and a plan to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.
The recognition has been criticised by world leaders, including US allies.
PETALING JAYA: Counter-terrorism material in several Southeast Asian languages, including Bahasa Malaysia, is being produced as part of a collaboration between a US think tank and the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) of the Malaysian foreign affairs ministry.
The initiative is called the “Breaking the ISIS Brand — Counter Narratives Project”.
It will see a team from the Washington-based International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) editing videos of defectors denouncing the group into short video clips to upload on the Internet to fight Islamic State’s (IS) online recruiting. The video clips are being subtitled in the 21 languages IS conducts its recruitments in.
They have been focus-tested with success in Central and Southeast Asia, the Balkans, Western Europe, Jordan, Iraq and the United States.
“We are partners in this initiative,” ICSVE director Anne Speckhard told FMT.
“SEARCCT is helping to subtitle our videos into relevant Southeast Asian languages, such as Malay and Burmese.
“We agree that counter narratives, such as the ICSVE ones that use disillusioned insiders from IS, can help break the IS brand.”
According to Speckhard, the “Breaking the ISIS Brand” counter-narrative project videos are being used in multiple countries to fight extremist recruitment of youths and adults.
They are also used in targeted interventions with foreign fighter returnees and to monitor drivers of radicalisation.
“Our hope is to offer powerful tools to de-legitimise terrorist groups and their ideologies and diminish social support for them globally,” she said.
ICSVE’s website says the project has been lauded by the White House, the US Senate, the US State Department and many foreign governments.
ICSVE research fellows are also currently focus-testing the videos for prevention and intervention purposes globally, specifically with IS endorsers on Facebook, YouTube and in Telegram chatrooms.
One of the videos in the project, entitled “You Blow Yourself Up”, is based on an interview with a Syrian IS defector nicknamed Abu Abdullah.
In this video clip, Abu Abdullah speaks about how IS brainwashed youth into accepting suicide missions without really understanding who they were killing or why.
Disillusioned with the group, Abu Abdullah tells the viewer that IS is unjust and has wronged civilians.
In an article on ICSVE’s website, Speckhard says most experts agree that the most successful counter-messaging campaigns against IS are the ones that utilise the voices of insiders.
“These are the voices of IS victims and IS cadres themselves who have first-hand knowledge of the group’s brutality, corruption, religious manipulation and deception.”
She also mentions two examples of former violent extremists, who now are involved in countering violent extremism efforts.
“Mubin Shaikh (now a counter-terrorism subject matter expert) is a good example of someone who nearly joined al-Qaeda and imbibed deeply of the jihadist ideology before turning away and infiltrating a Canadian terrorist cell to help take it down,” she says.
KUALA LUMPUR: Muslim groups are barking up the wrong tree if they stage a protest outside the United States embassy in Kuala Lumpur over Washington’s controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, a prominent Muslim activist says.
Instead, Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa of the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) said Muslims should be training their guns at Saudi Arabia, adding that the kingdom was not only President Donald Trump’s closest ally in the Middle East but has made it possible for the US to announce the decision in the face of international protests.
“Trump would not have made such an announcement unless he had regional backers. I think almost everybody knows about the story of Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, as he is popularly known. The New York Times has reported from multiple sources how the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia had told Mahmoud Abbas to accept the terms; that if there was no Jerusalem, then there was no return. Abbas was told by MBS to make way for someone who will,” Farouk told FMT today.
Several Muslim groups including PAS are calling for a rally outside the US embassy in Jalan Ampang after Friday prayers tomorrow, to protest Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Israel has long considered Jerusalem, which hosts holy sites for Islam, Christianity and Judaism, as its “eternal and indivisible” capital.
But Western governments have snubbed Israeli calls to move their embassies to Jerusalem, wary that it would further complicate the crisis in the Middle East and any delicate peace plan for Palestine.
Trump’s announcement today is a reversal of its decades-old policy of not recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It also comes in the wake of a strong alliance between Trump and the US’s traditional Arab allies including Saudi Arabia, both of which have been leading a so-called Gulf anti-terror pact.
Farouk said despite the Saudi involvement in the bombing of Yemen which has sparked a major humanitarian crisis, there has been silence from Muslim groups who instead target the American embassy.
“Sadly, no demonstrations were ever held when the Saudis launched missiles that killed thousands in Yemen and caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world as confirmed by the United Nations.
“Where were these Islamists, be they PAS, Abim or Ikram?” he asked, referring to the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia and Pertubuhan Ikram which brings together several Muslim organisations.
“Why were they silent about the atrocities committed by the Saudis?” Farouk said, adding that it was “blatant hypocrisy”.
“Isn’t this also a treason to the Palestinian cause?” he said.
Farouk said Jerusalem has always been a symbolic city to Muslims all over the world.
“It is a city that unites the followers of monotheistic faiths, Muslims, Christians, and Jews together. It is also a symbol that unites the warring factions of the Palestinians together; the nationalists, the secular, the Islamists, and also the Christian Palestinians.
UN human rights chief calls out Trump over anti-Muslim retweets
By Laura Koran
The United Nations' top human rights official was "aghast" over President Donald Trump's decision to re-tweet anti-Muslim videos from the far-right ultra nationalist group Britain First last week, offering a robust rebuke of nationalist and populist leaders.
"It seemed to be so foolish," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein told CNN's Elise Labott during a Capitol Hill roundtable discussion for the UN Foundation. "Or it seemed to be driven by a sense of purpose."
"And why take us to a place where what can accrue from this is immense violence?" he asked. "We've been there before."
Al Hussein also condemned nationalism and populism more broadly, saying the international human rights framework, put in place after World War II and the Holocaust, "is under immense stress at the moment" from authoritarian leaders and terrorist groups, but also populist politicians in the west. He derided an increasingly popular school of thought in the western world that suggests human rights efforts have been ineffective and should therefore be tossed aside.
The commissioner -- a former Jordanian ambassador to the United States and United Nations, who has been vocal in calling out abuses in the Middle East as well as other regions of the world -- pointed out tens of millions of people died in two world wars and the Holocaust before the international community came together to develop the Human Rights Declaration, and suggested the world is at risk of returning to the nation-centric dynamic of the early 20th century that allowed that violence to happen.
"This is now a bare-knuckled fight for rights," he said. "This is not an exchange of pleasantries."
"If people don't know what their rights are and are not defending the rights of others, it can all slip away all too quickly," he added, "and we see that in many parts of the world."
Al Hussein also said he sees a "mean-spiritedness" in some of the restrictive border control and refugee admissions policies in western countries like the United States.
"Do we want a world where there's a meanness?" he asked. "A mean-spiritedness?
In his remarks, Al Hussein also criticized a host of world leaders for failing to do more to address the crisis in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have been chased from their homes.
In September, Al Hussein said the conflict was a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." It's a characterization that was ultimately endorsed by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said last month that the violence in Rakhine, "meets all the criteria of ethnic cleansing" and "has a number of characteristics of crimes against humanity."
On Thursday, he reiterated his disappointment in civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi's tepid and untimely response to the violence, but also singled out world leaders, including Pope Francis, for their failure to identify Rohingya Muslims as the specific targets of the violence.
"I believe his holiness the Pope is a courageous man, he's a courageous leader, and he's proven himself to be that," he said. "But I was disappointed that he didn't use the word Rohingya (in his remarks in Myanmar).'"
He said he worried the crisis could spiral further out of control and could draw extremists if not addressed sharply and quickly by the international community, and said ultimately a court will need to decide whether the violence was pre-planned, which could qualify the attacks as genocide.
Dec 8, 2017
American President Donald Trump has called on Israel to restrain its response to his announcement of the US recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Tel Aviv regime’s capital, fearing backlash from the international community, according to a State Department document.
“While I recognize that you will publicly welcome this news, I ask that you restrain your official response,” the document dated December 6 said in an advisory note for diplomats at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to convey to the Israeli regime, according to Reuters.
“We expect there to be resistance to this news in the Middle East and around the world. We are still judging the impact this decision will have on US facilities and personnel overseas,” the document said.
In a speech at the White House on Wednesday, Trump officially declared Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, saying his administration would also begin a process of moving the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city, which is expected to take years.
"I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. "While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering."
The US leader also said that Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the Middle East in the coming days “to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism.”
The announcement was a major shift by Washington that overturns decades of US foreign policy. Trump's decision was mostly aimed at pleasing his main supporters - Republican conservatives and evangelical Christian Zionists who comprise an important share of his voter base.
Following the announcement, protests against the United States broke out across the Muslim world, and even Washington’s allies like Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia were forced to condemn the controversial move.
Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital has also drawn condemnation from other global leaders and prominent politicians across the world.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned about the dire ramifications of Trump’s move for the Middle East’s security and stability, saying it “has the potential to send us backward to even darker times than the ones we are already living in.”
The EU, she said, “has a clear and united position: we believe that the only realistic solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is based on two States, and with Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the capital of both the State of Israel and the State of Palestine.”
French President Emmanuel Macron said he disapproves of the Trump administration's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, calling it a “unilateral decision.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May called the US move unhelpful. "We disagree with the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem [al-Quds] and recognize Jerusalem [al-Quds] as the Israeli capital before a final status agreement," May said in a statement.
The Russian foreign ministry expressed "serious concern" over Trump's decision, saying it threatens security in the Middle East.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Canberra will not relocate its embassy to Jerusalem al-Quds. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also stressed that Canada's embassy in Israel would remain in Tel Aviv.
Another State Department document, which was also dated December 6, said an internal task force was formed by the government “to track worldwide developments” following Trump’s announcement
In its message for the European capitals, the document requested European officials to argue that the US decision did not prejudge so-called “final status” issues that Israel and the Palestinians should resolve in any peace agreement.
“You are in a key position to influence international reaction to this announcement and we are asking you to amplify the reality that Jerusalem [al-Quds] is still a final status issue between Israelis and Palestinians and that the parties must resolve the dimensions of Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem [al-Quds] during their negotiations,” it said.
East Jerusalem al-Quds was occupied in 1967 and Israel later annexed it despite international condemnations. The occupied city's final status is one of the thorniest issues in the stalemated talks between the Palestinian Authority and Tel Aviv.
Claiming all of al-Quds as its "eternal and indivisible" capital, Israel annexed the eastern part, where a number of sites sacred to Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, are located, following the 1967 Six-Day War.
The annexation is in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 and has never been recognized by the international community.
An American writer and retired professor says President Donald Trump’s decision of the United States recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital will have a boomerang effect, that will weaken the US and leave it isolated.
James Petras, who has written dozens of books on international issues, told Press TV that “Trump is trying to appeal to Netanyahu and following the orders of the Israeli lobby in the United States that has been so powerful and an influence in the Middle East.”
“They have been pursuing the problem of breaking relations with Iran and ending the nuclear agreement. This is a culmination of this policy by Israel and its influence over the United States,” he said.
“Trump’s son-in-law is a very Zionist. Jared Kushner is his top advisor on the Middle East. And he has been an avid supporter of Netanyahu. And, this is part of his policies and influence over Trump,” he stated.
“Trump is trying to pay back the Zionists who contributed millions of dollars to his electoral campaign, and this is his payoff for his receiving that kind of financial backing,” he noted.
“The problem is that the rest of the world disagrees with the Zionists in the United States and Trump, and the repercussions are very clear that the US has no longer a dominant influence over Europe. It has even alienated its allies like Saudi Arabia, which’s been an ally of Israel on other questions particularly in animosity to Iran,” the analyst stated.
“He has provoked a major protest, and increasing militancy throughout the Middle East even in places like in Jordan, and other places. There’s been public display of animosity, hostility and militancy,” he said.
“Despite the fact that Abbas, the PLO chairman, has been an active ally of the US is now forced to go into opposition. It spells the end of the farce of peace negotiations. And it sets in motion the alliance of the Islamic people against the United States and continuing to build up support for Iran, and the coalition that goes from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, and across the map,” the academic observed.
“So I think Trump’s policy will have a boomerang effect, that instead of strengthening the US, it will weaken the US and leave it isolated as a lone backer of Israel,” he said.
The US military has finally acknowledged that there are around 2,000 US troops in Syria, confirming reports that it previously disputed about the real troop levels in the Arab country.
Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Rob Manning announced the new number on Wednesday, claiming that it was declining.
Washington was going to take a “conditions-based” approach to removing its forces from Syria, Manning said.
Although the number does not mean that the US has been sending additional troops, it still confirms earlier government data that contradicted the Pentagon’s official count.
While the Pentagon insisted a month ago that it had only sent 503 troops in Syria, a quarterly report by the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC) put the number at around 1,720, more than three times higher.
The same report, issued in September, showed that there were 8,992 American troops in Iraq, almost 3,500 more than the Pentagon’s official tally of 5,262.
In response, the Pentagon disputed the numbers offered by DMDC, the US Defense Department’s personnel agency which collects data on American troops serving in individual states and overseas countries.
Back then, Manning questioned the credibility of DMDC’s numbers, downplaying them as initial estimates for given locations that also factored in short-term deployments and troop rotations in other countries.
“The DMDC numbers are not the official deployment count, the numbers that we provided -- the approximately 500 in Syria and approximately 5,000 in Iraq is the official deployment count,” said Manning.
“There are several other things that go into those numbers, it is a snapshot in time and have to also consider that number is quarterly ... our official deployment count has not changed," the official added.
7 Dec 2017
The Bulgarian parliament has moved to criminalise the promotion of radical Islam, including advocating a caliphate, religious violence, and sharia law.
The legislature adopted the amendments to the nation’s criminal code aimed at tackling radical Islam on their first reading this Wednesday.
They were proposed by a nationalist electoral alliance called the United Patriots (UP).
Promoting any ideology of violence or one threatening the law and constitution of the nation could be punishable with one to five years in jail and a fine of around £2,000, the Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik reports.
UP Member of Parliament Boris Yachev told the paper that the change in law was not aimed at targeting a religion but a dangerous ideology.
“Radical Islam is a particularly aggressive and dangerous ideology that justifies violence and the murder of [infidels],” he said, insisting it also excused “slavery and genocide” as a “systemic policy”.
His party proposed a legal definition of radical Islam, which, according to the law’s parliamentary reading, includes “when a person is agitating for the creation of an Islamic State [or caliphate]”.
Other tenets are promoting religious law over secular law, the “forcible application of religious principles”, advocating violence including “sacred war against non-Muslims [jihad]”, and recruiting people into Islamist terrorism.
In June 2016, the Bulgarian parliament voted with a large majority to become the third European nation to ban the Islamic full-face veil, or burqa, finalising the law in September with a fine of around £90.
As a legacy of almost 500 years of Ottoman Turkish rule, Bulgaria has one of the biggest Muslim minorities in Europe at about 12 per cent of its 7.1 million population, Reuters reports.
Speaking in October of this year, Deputy Prime Minister Krasimir Karakachanov said: “It turns out that problems [with radical Islam] we see in a number of European countries already exist in Bulgaria.”
He claimed that “extremely liberal” laws were allowing the spread of more radical strains of Islam in education and training.
“It is mostly the… financing by private structures of religious communities that attempt to realise political influence in the country,” Mr. Karakachanov added, promising to crack down on the funding of radical Islam.
Britons who join ISIS should be hunted and killed: Britain's defence minister
Britons who have joined the ISIS militant group in Syria and Iraq should be hunted down and killed, Britain’s new defence minister said.
Gavin Williamson said that Britons who had gone to Syria or Iraq to fight for ISIS hated what Britain stands for, and that air strikes could be used against the estimated 270 British citizens who are still out there.
“Quite simply my view is a dead terrorist can’t cause any harm to Britain,” Williamson told the Daily Mail in an interview published late on Wednesday.
“We should do everything we can do to destroy and eliminate that threat,” he said, adding that he believed any British fighters who joined ISIS should never be allowed to return to the United Kingdom.
Williamson, 41, has been defence minister for little over a month, replacing Michael Fallon after he quit in a sexual harassment scandal.
Prominent British militants such as Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, and Sally Jones, have been reportedly killed by British or US forces since travelling to fight for ISIS .
7 December 2017
The United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday at the request of eight states on the 15-member body over US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, diplomats said on Thursday.
The request for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to publicly brief the Security Council meeting was made by France, Bolivia, Egypt, Italy, Senegal, Sweden, Britain and Uruguay, said diplomats.
Trump abruptly reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday, generating outrage from Palestinians and defying warnings of Middle East unrest. Trump also plans to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
Israel considers the city its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
“The UN has given Jerusalem a special legal and political status, which the Security Council has called upon the international community to respect. That is why we believe the Council needs to address this issue with urgency,” Deputy Swedish UN Ambassador Carl Skau said on Wednesday.
A UN Security Council resolution adopted in December last year “underlines that it will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.”
That resolution was approved with 14 votes in favor and an abstention by former US President Barack Obama’s administration, which defied heavy pressure from long-time ally Israel and Trump for Washington to wield its veto.
After Trump spoke on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters: “I have consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”
“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: There is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B,” he said. “I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations.”
LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its associates for criticism on Thursday in a speech calling for a renewed Western diplomatic push in the Middle East to tackle extremism.
Speaking to diplomats and experts at the Foreign Office in London, Johnson called for better engagement with Muslim populations worldwide and argued that blaming Western intervention for the rise of extremism played into the jihadi narrative.
He said the West needed to collectively re-insert itself in the process toward peace in Syria and called for the US to bring fresh impetus to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Johnson said the Muslim Brotherhood — a global radical organization which started in Egypt in 1928 — was one of the most politically savvy operators in the Muslim world, but he also criticized its conduct in the Middle East and Britain.
“It is plainly wrong that Islamists should exploit freedoms here in the UK — freedoms of speech and association — that their associates would repress overseas and it is all too clear that some affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood are willing to turn a blind eye to terrorism,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was designated as a terrorist organization in that country in 2013.
A 2015 British government review into the organization concluded that membership of or links to it should be considered a possible indicator of extremism but stopped short of recommending that it should be banned.
Johnson admitted there had been policy missteps in Iraq and Syria interventions, but said that did not justify a diplomatic retreat from the region.
In an official statement released by the foundation on Tuesday, the meeting, held in accordance with the Dahir relating to the Foundation, will be devoted to examining the foundation’s action plan for 2018, as well as to debating major themes such as the values of moderate Islam and the shared African cultural heritage.
This regular session will see the participation of 300 Islamic scholars from 32 African countries where the foundation is represented. More than 80 women will take part of the meeting, 20 of whom are Moroccan.
The work of the Council will bring focus on two axes. The first will concern the adoption of the objectives fixed in article 4 of the Dahir, which are the preservation of the common religious and spiritual constants between Morocco and the African countries, the promotion of the authentic rules of Sharia and the principles of tolerant Islam, the revitalization of the common African Islamic cultural heritage, and the consolidation of the historical relations that bind Morocco to other African countries.
The second axis of this meeting will focus on the examination and voting of the annual draft program for the year 2018 and the process of implementation of the work of the four standing committees in accordance with article 18 of the Dahir, namely the Committee for Scientific and Cultural Activities, the Sharia Studies Committee, the Revitalization of African Islamic Heritage Committee and the Communication, Cooperation and Partnership Committee.
As part of its religious diplomacy in Africa, Morocco continues to promote its moderate version of Islam as a bulwark against extremism and establishes itself as leader, providing training for the hundreds of imams from Africa.
In 2015, Morocco created the religious institute, Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulemas, in order to promote a tolerant Islam and curb the growing threat of terrorism.
The religious institute aims to unite religious scholars and imams of the kingdom with those in other African countries in an effort to serve the interests of Islam. It advocates tolerance and promote research and studies in Islamic thought and culture.
Under the supervision of King Mohammed VI, the institute intends to inculcate the values of moderate Islam as it has always been practiced in Morocco (based on the Ashaari doctrine and the Malikite school of jurisprudence) to the new generations of imams and preachers.
Human Rights Watch: Muslim Sufi shrines at risk of attacks in Libya
Human Rights Watch has revealed that “Muslim Sufi” places of worship face increasing attacks in Libya.
Thursday’s Human Rights Watch statement indicated that two historic Sufi mosques were attacked in November and October in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, which is under control of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA).
Human Rights Watch (HRW) cited also a September report on the abduction of 21 Sufis in eastern Libya a month earlier.
“Successive authorities have failed to protect Sufis from militias since 2011 uprising.” The HRW’s statement reads.
6 DECEMBER 2017
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is holding a five-day program in Djibouti that trains Somali personnel on counter radicalization, disengagement and reintegration.
The program organized by IGAD's Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) in partnership with the regional bloc's Special Mission to Somalia (IGAD SMS) from December 4 to 9, brought together some 50 Somali religious scholars, traditional leaders, representatives from civil society organizations and government officials.
Abebe Muluneh, Director of IGAD SSP, indicated that the militant group, Al-Shabaab, remains the most immediate threat to the peace, security and stability of Somalia and the region.
According to Muluneh, although the government of Somalia, together with regional and international actors, is doing a lot in tackling Al-Shabaab, the terrorist group continues to carry out regular complex attacks in Mogadishu.
"Engaging with key community members that include religious leaders, the youth, and women hand in hand is very important in tackling the narratives and messaging of Al-Shabaab," Muluneh stressed.
The training mainly aspires to contribute to the fight against radicalization and countering terrorism in Somalia by providing knowledge, tools, and common understanding to traditional leaders in mobilizing the community through counter radical narratives that familiarize the dangers of religious extremism messages of Al-Shabaab, it was indicated.
Participants are also expected to discuss the role of religious leaders, clan leaders, media and civil society in community disengagement, disseminating counter narratives and promoting the importance of solving differences through negotiation and peaceful ways under the teachings of Islam.
IGAD further noted that community based de-radicalization is "irreplaceable and provides a venue for trust based and sustainable intervention."
Nigeria: Group Urges Execution of UN Resolutions Against Israel
7 DECEMBER 2017
By Shakirah Adunola
A Nigerian human rights organisation, Muslim Awareness International (MAI) has called on the United Nations (UN) and world leaders to enforce United Nations (UN) Resolution 237 against Israel.
The resolution was adopted by the UN Security Council on June 14, 1967, after the Arab-Israeli War. The resolution called on Israel to ensure the safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the areas where its military operations took place during the war and to facilitate the return of inhabitants who had fled.
However, Israel has consistently disregarded the resolution since 1967 as the number of Palestinian refugees who fled their land during the war has increased exponentially in different neighbouring countries, with no plan from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to facilitate their return to their occupied homes..
MAI made the call at the 2017 Aqsa Day held in Lagos with the theme: "The Major Minority: The Muslim World in the Face of Relegation and Persecution."
No fewer than 2000 Muslims graced the event that saw two seasoned scholars, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf and Ustadh Ismail Busayri speak on the topics: "The Palestinian Struggle: Lessons for the Muslim Ummah" and "Selective Justice; History Relevance, and Significance of the Palestinian Struggle" respectively.
Busayri noted that there are over Five million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world. According to him, rather than adhering strictly to this and other resolutions, particularly UN Resolution 242 which emphasizes the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war, Israel has continued to build new homes on stolen land in West Bank for its citizens and its leaders, especially those in thediaspora, while encouraging the would-be-settlers to return.
He said: "Just in October 2017, Israel approved a plan to build 2500 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank. This was the biggest settlement to be announced since 2013. What did the UN do? The body only condemned the move but couldn't do anything. All efforts to sanction the Zionist regime have been frustrated by the US's unflinching support of Israel.
"While the building of illegal settlements in the West Bank continued unabated, Palestinians in Gaza Strip have been under siege orchestrated by Israel."
A Senior Lecturer at the University of Lagos, Dr Tajudeen Yusuf, said the 2006 Gaza War exacerbated the sufferings of the 1.8 million Gazan residents.
According to him, since then, they have gone through existential deprivation, military annihilation and socio-economic deprivation as well as lack of access to the outside world.
"The Palestinian solution was the use of tunnels through which foods and other essential commodities were smuggled into Gaza."
The convener, Engineer Abdul Waheed Atoyebi, called on world leaders and the UN to address the plight of the Muslim minorities, particularly in Palestine, Myanmar (Rohingya) and Kashmir with seriousness and sincerity, saying that only justice can solve the problems.
He said, the injustice meted on the minority Muslims globally is uncalled for, adding: "Unfortunately, the world leaders including the UN are not just. We all witnessed in shock the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and the continuous annihilation of the Palestinians in the hands of the Israelis, yet the world has done little to nothing to stem such tides.
"Kashmir also remains a hot-spot, and has been a subject of dispute and bitter conflict between India and Pakistan from the time of its partitioning in 1947. Young Kashmiris continue to protest the Indian occupation and brutal repression, and are being blinded by steel pellets fired from Indian guns.
"Jerusalem al-Quds will always keep its Arab and Islamic identity. Washington, which has no proprietary right, is executing a plan on behalf of somebody else who has no such right either," Zarif wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday.
He noted that if half of the money spent on sponsoring terror had been spent on the liberation of Palestine, Washington wouldn’t have been so selfish now.
In anticipation of Trump's move, 151 members of the UN General Assembly voted last week to adopt a rare resolution that denounced Israel as the “occupying power” of Jerusalem al-Quds, a city that is holy to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike.
The city has seen heightened tensions since 2015, when the Israeli military introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site.
Over 300 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli soldiers ever since.
Trump’s move which overturns decades of US foreign policy is feared to trigger a fresh wave of unrest in the Middle East.
Hamas calls for Palestinian uprising in response to Trump's Jerusalem plan
GAZA: The fighter group Hamas urged Palestinians on Thursday to abandon peace efforts and launch a new uprising against Israel in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as its capital.
The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, deploying several new army battalions and putting other forces on standby, describing the measures as part of its “readiness for possible developments”.
Protests so far have been scattered and largely non-violent.
But dozens of Palestinians gathered at two points on the Gaza border fence with Israel and threw rocks at soldiers on the other side. Inside Gaza, thousands of Palestinians rallied, some chanting: “Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!” and burning tires.
Trump reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting the Arab world and Western allies alike.
The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada (Palestinian uprising) in the face of the Zionist enemy,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a speech in Gaza.
Haniyeh, elected the group’s overall leader in May, urged Palestinians, Muslims and Arabs to hold rallies against the USdecision on Friday, calling it a “day of rage”.
Naser al-Qidwa, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and senior official in his Fatah party, urged Palestinians to stage protests but said they should be peaceful.
Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital. Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.
Trump announced his administration would begin a process of moving the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem , a step expected to take years and one that his predecessors opted not to take to avoid inflaming tensions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark”, said on Thursday many countries would follow the US move and that contacts were underway. He did not name the countries he was referring to.
“President Trump has immortalized himself in the chronicles of our capital. His name will now be held aloft, alongside other names connected to the glorious history of Jerusalem and of our people,” he said in a speech at Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Other close Western allies of Washington, including France and Britain, have been critical of Trump’s move. Pope Francis has called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected, while China and Russia have also expressed concern.
Trump’s decision has raised doubts about his administration’s ability to follow through on a peace effort that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has led for months aimed at reviving long-stalled negotiations.
The United Nations Security Council is likely to meet on Friday to discuss the US decision, diplomats said.
Israel and the United States consider Hamas , which has fought three wars with Israel since 2007, a terrorist organization. Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and its suicide bombings helped spearhead the last intifada, from 2000 to 2005.
“We have given instruction to all Hamas members and to all its wings to be fully ready for any new instructions or orders that may be given to confront this strategic danger that threatens Jerusalem and threatens Palestine,” Haniyeh said.
“United Jerusalem is Arab and Muslim, and it is the capital of the state of Palestine, all of Palestine,” he said, referring to territory including Israel as well as the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Haniyeh called on Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from peacemaking with Israel and on Arabs to boycott the Trump administration.
Abbas said on Wednesday the United States had abdicated its role as a mediator in peace efforts. Palestinian secular and Islamist factions have called for a general strike and rallies on Thursday.
The secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement says US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital is an insult to all Muslims and a violation of international law.
Speaking in a televised address to the Lebanese nation from the capital city Beirut on Thursday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said following Trump’s decision, Israel would stop at nothing to push Palestinians from their homes and confiscate their properties, farms and gardens.
He noted that following the US president's remarks, Israel will certainly try to expand its dominion over the greater Quds and expropriate more land in the occupied West Bank.
Another ambiguity that exists following Trump’s decision, Nasrallah added, was the fate of the sacred places of Muslims and Christians as Zionists will seize this opportunity to pose a major challenge to Muslims’ sanctities, especially al-Aqsa Mosque.
By recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital, the Hezbollah leader said, the core of the Palestinian issue, which is the city of al-Quds, has been erased from all possible talks, because the issue of al-Quds would fall out of the domain of any negotiations.
He added that when the US dares to encroach upon the most sacred city for Muslims, there is no doubt that other places, which are less revered such as the rest of the West Bank, the southern part of Lebanon and the Golan Heights would be open to similar actions if Muslims remained silent in the face of Trump’s decision.
He emphasized that silence of Muslims will make them vulnerable and pave the way for encroachment of enemies on other places of importance to them.
He went on to note that the Zionist regime of Israel had no respect for international resolutions and paid no attention to all international condemnations, because it only cared about the US stance.
Nasrallah noted that Trump’s decision was a grave insult to millions of Muslims and Christians who felt offended by transfer of Jerusalem al-Quds to control of Israel in spite of sentiments of Muslims and Christians and is against all international resolutions.
He added that Zionist media and analysts believed that since Islamic countries are plagued with their own problems, they had no time to react to Trump’s decision and this is why they ignored the entire international community and took such an insulting step.
Nasrallah said Americans and Zionists believe that even a reaction to Trump’s decision will be limited to a few days of protests, which will finally ebb and the situation would return to normal.
First of all, he said, Muslims must continue their protests against this outrageous step and emphasize the importance of the issue of Palestine for all Muslims, so that nobody would ever dare to do such things.
Hezbollah leader stated that protests should continue even if they were conducted by a few people, because they were needed to make the voice of Muslims be heard by the leaders at the White House.
He continued by saying that every man and woman, old and young, must take part in these protests, especially through social networks, while scholars must hold meetings on this issue and raise their voice in condemnation of Trump’s decision.
Sit-ins must be also held, he added, referring to sit-ins conducted by Palestinians in various places, and said such moves will make Trump regret what he has done.
He advised Arab states by saying that the least they could do was to summon their ambassadors from the United States, underlining that they were not expected to cut relations with the United States, but by recalling their envoys, they should protest to US administration’s measure.
Nasrallah also stated that Arab countries must mount pressure on Israel so that the Tel Aviv regime would not dare to implement this decision in practice and encroach upon the property and homes of Palestinians in occupied land.
Hezbollah leader said all kinds of overt and covert contacts with Israel aimed at normalization of ties with Tel Aviv must be cut by all Arab states and all diplomatic ties with Israel must be severed followed by expelling the Zionist regime’s ambassadors from all Arab capitals.
“Any step taken to normalize ties with Israel would be the greatest treachery against Palestine at the present juncture,” he said.
Nasrallah emphasized that Arab nations and Palestinians must also clearly announce that they have lost their trust in negotiations with Israel and they will not continue talks with Israel.
Another measure to be taken, he added, was for Muslims to issue statements in their conferences, including those of Arab nations, emphasizing that al-Quds is the permanent capital of Palestine and its status as such will never change.
Rekindling the Palestinian intifada, which has been proposed by certain parties, was another measure that Hezbollah leader described as the most important and greatest response to Americans and Zionists.
Nasrallah also declared his support for anti-Israeli resistance, adding that resistance was the best way to counter Israel and its backers.
Permanent Secretariat of the Palestinian Intifada Conference at Iran’s Parliament issued a statement on Thursday, condemning US President Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the American embassy in Tel Aviv to the holy city.
"Being deeply worried about his political future, (US President) Donald Trump has sold out the oppressed Palestinians to the Zionists in order to secure his term in office," the statement said.
"By this sinister and unwarranted move, the US government has dashed the last remaining hope of some Arab leaders about the prospects of negotiations and the two-state solution," he added.
Trump announced late on Wednesday that he would relocate the US diplomatic mission in Israel, a decision that the US Congress made in 1995 but all of his successors have deferred ever since.
Israel lays claim to the entirety of al-Quds (Jerusalem) as its capital while Palestinians want its Eastern part as the capital of a future state for themselves.
Palestinian leaders have warned that the potential relocation would fuel strong reaction in the region and deliver a death blow to any prospect of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
8 December 2017
A senior Palestinian official said Thursday that US Vice President Mike Pence was “not welcome in Palestine” during his upcoming regional visit after a White House decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
“The American vice president is not welcome in Palestine,” Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, told AFP.
Rajoub also signaled that Abbas would not meet with Pence during his planned visit later this month.
“And President Abbas will not welcome him because of the statements he made” about Jerusalem.
Abbas has not made similar comments and his office could not immediately be reached.
The White House warned Thursday that cancelling a planned meeting between Abbas and Pence in the wake of the US policy shift on Jerusalem would be “counterproductive”.
US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday in a move that outraged Palestinian leaders, but which was hailed as historic by Israel.
Pence’s trip now risks becoming a lightning rod for Palestinian anger.
In an effort to keep the trip on the rails, the White House is likely to only consider the meeting canceled if they hear that from Abbas himself.
Pence is due to travel to Egypt and Israel in the second half of December, a visit that has taken on extra significance in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Around 20 Houthi militiamen were reported killed and 11 others were captured following violent clashes with the Yemeni army on the outskirts of al-Khoukha city, south of Hodeidah.
A military source said the Yemeni army, supported by the popular resistance, purged several areas south of Hodeidah, and attacked the militias’ posts from the three fronts of al-Hameli, Yakhtal and al-Zahari, south of Khoukha.
The source added that the army seized the area of Rouwais and the strategic Harzeen mountain. Military sources in the fifth military zone said 15 Houthis were killed in clashes with legitimate forces in the Midi front.
They also confirmed that Houthi militias launched an attack on border guards in the southeast of the Midi front early Tuesday morning. The Houthis lost a number of men and ammunition and their attack was repulsed.
Sources added that Houthi gunmen involved in the attack fled after suffering these losses and could not even get the bodies of their deceased men from the field.
Yemen’s Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani said on Thursday that Houthi militias’ violations and practices in Sanaa are tantamount to “annihilation” and crimes against humanity.
“The Yemeni people in Houthi strongholds are being subjected to the most hideous (crimes),” he said, adding that Houthis blocked all social media tools in an attempt to isolate the Yemeni people from the world and hide the crimes they are committing.
On Thursday, Houthi militias blocked all instant messaging applications and social media tools as they resumed detaining and executing people and raiding houses for the fourth day in a row since they killed former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Eryani said Houthis are raiding the houses of those who oppose them, adding that they’ve detained hundreds and carried out summary executions against hundreds of civilians and military officials.
Yemeni Houthi Ansarullah fighters have staged a show of force in Sana’a by holding a mass memorial ceremony for comrades killed during this month's bitter clashes with loyalists to slain former president Ali Abdullah Saleh for the control of the capital.
Hundreds of Ansarullah supporters thronged Sabaeen Square in Sana’a on Thursday as fighters clad in fatigues stood guard over rows of coffins wrapped in the national flag.
Ansarullah commander Yahya Mahdi told AFP that the Houthis were still holding Saleh's body.
Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network also reported that the Interior Ministry had launched a campaign to seize the assets of high-profile figures in Saleh's General People's Congress party.
People in Saleh's party alleged that many of their comrades had been detained and some executed by Ansarullah fighters. There was no immediate independent confirmation though.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said that more than 230 people, including civilians, had been killed in the fighting between the Houthis and Saleh's loyalists.
There are reports that Sana’a residents have been stocking up on basic goods for fear of further violence.
Meanwhile, militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi have retaken the Red Sea city of al-Khokha from Ansarullah fighters.
Local officials, requesting anonymity, said Saudi-backed Hadi loyalists launched an operation overnight and established control over the city. The news could not be independently verified.
In January, Ansarullah fighters took control of Khokha, which lies between the port city of Hudaydah, located 150 kilometers southwest of the capital, and Mukha, situated 346 kilometers south of Sana’a. While Houthis are in control of Hudaydah, Hadi supporters run Mukha.
Saudi Arabia has been incessantly pounding Yemen since March 2015 in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstate Hadi, a staunch ally of the Riyadh regime.
More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign more than two and a half years ago. Much of the Arabian Peninsula country's infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been reduced to rubble due to the war.
The Saudi-led war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.
According to the World Health Organization’s latest count, the cholera outbreak has killed 2,167 people since the end of April and is suspected to have infected 841,906.
On November 26, the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) said that more than 11 million children in Yemen were in acute need of aid, stressing that it was estimated that every 10 minutes a child died of a preventable disease there.
Additionally, the UN has described the current level of hunger in Yemen as “unprecedented,” emphasizing that 17 million people are now food insecure in the country.
It added that 6.8 million, meaning almost one in four people, do not have enough food and rely entirely on external assistance.
A recent survey showed that almost one third of families had gaps in their diets, and hardly ever consumed foods like pulses, vegetables, fruit, dairy products or meat.
The Israeli military says an aircraft and a tank have targeted two security posts in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The attack on Thursday night had no casualties, Reuters reported, citing residents of the Palestinian coastal enclave.
The Israeli army claimed that the attack was a response to rocket attacks from Gaza earlier in the day.
"In response to... projectiles fired at Israel throughout the day... an IDF tank and an IAF aircraft targeted two military posts in the Gaza Strip. The IDF holds Hamas responsible for the hostile activity perpetrated against Israel from the Gaza Strip," it said in a statement.
However, no claim of responsibility has so far been made by the Palestinian resistance movement.
Reuters said the al-Tawheed Brigades claimed responsibility for the missile launches from Gaza.
The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007. The blockade has caused a decline in the standards of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty.
The Israeli regime denies about 1.8 million people in Gaza their basic rights, such as freedom of movement, jobs with proper wages as well as adequate healthcare and education. The Tel Aviv regime has also waged several wars on Gaza since 2008. Thousands of Gazans have been killed or maimed in the Israeli wars and a significant portion of infrastructure has been destroyed.
Israeli attacks like the one on Thursday have been taking place on a regular basis since the regime's latest war on Gaza in early July 2014.
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