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Islamic World News (03 Sep 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



RSS and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Have Agreed To Work Jointly To Promote Harmony and Accord in the Country







RSS and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Have Agreed To Work Jointly To Promote Harmony and Accord in the Country

Ravidas Temple: Muslim Groups Support Dalit Community Demand, Joint Protest on September 15

Any Process That Could Leave Large Numbers of People without A Nationality Would Be An Enormous Blow To Global Efforts To Eradicate Statelessness: UN Urges India Not To Render Anyone Stateless

Boycotting Non-Muslim Businesses Bad for Malaysian Economy, Says Perlis Mufti

'Husband of Pak Sikh Girl Member of Saeed's JuD'

Hezbollah Chief Says ‘No More Red Lines’ Against Israel

UN Official Blasts Nigeria’s Use Of ‘Lethal Force’ On Muslims

Arab Parliament Urges Honduras, Nauru to Reconsider Jerusalem Al-Quds Decisions

US Reaches Agreement with Taliban: US Peace Negotiator

 

India

RSS and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Have Agreed To Work Jointly To Promote Harmony and Accord in the Country

Ravidas Temple: Muslim Groups Support Dalit Community Demand, Joint Protest on September 15

Don't Decide Ayodhya Case on Hindus' Belief: Muslim Parties To SC

"Present Relevant Arguments": Top Court To Muslim Parties In Ayodhya Case

Ayodhya: SC assures break to lawyer for Muslim parties on Friday to prepare arguments

Counsel for Babri Mosque side: There was no massive structure, Hindu motifs at site, SC told

Ayodhya case: Lawyer representing Sunni Waqf Board receives threat letter, SC to hear his contempt plea tomorrow

90% of Kashmir free of daytime restrictions, says J&K principal secretary

Some families meet Kashmir political prisoners, Omar Abdullah gets visit from sister

Sitaram Yechury submits report on Kashmir visit in Supreme Court

Kartarpur corridor: India-Pak talks tomorrow

India braces for Pak attack on NRC at UN rights council meet

Malé Declaration overlooks Pakistan claim on Kashmir issue

Pak officials by his side, Jadhav parrots Pak line

India backs peace deal which will not leave space for terrorists in Afghanistan: Vijay Gokhale

No scope for dialogue, Pakistan openly practices terrorism: MEA Jaishankar

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Europe

Any Process That Could Leave Large Numbers of People without A Nationality Would Be An Enormous Blow To Global Efforts To Eradicate Statelessness: UN Urges India Not To Render Anyone Stateless

Boris Johnson linked to biggest spike in UK Islamophobia in 2018

Swedish foreign minister says she has ‘new ideas’ for Yemen

ICC prosecutor ordered to look again at charging Israel over 2010 Gaza flotilla raid

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Southeast Asia

Boycotting Non-Muslim Businesses Bad for Malaysian Economy, Says Perlis Mufti

Indian Muslim Preacher Zakir Naik Gets Go-Ahead To Visit Malaysia Mosque, But Not To Give Speech

Stop Depending On Handouts, Start Being Industrious, PM Tells Muslims

Minister: Trade groups yet to see signs of non-Muslim business boycott

Tok Mat: Nation needs new ‘Malaysia Narrative’, but with Malay-Muslims as priority

Philippines’ new region turns to Middle East for investment

Missing Maldives journalist killed by Islamic radicals

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Pakistan

'Husband of Pak Sikh Girl Member of Saeed's JuD'

Pakistan won't start war or use nukes first against India, says Imran

Major embarrassment for police after custodial deaths in Punjab

PML-N blasts govt over ‘record financial blunders’

Court orders not being followed in Zardari case: lawyer

Idols, artefacts found at Hindu temple in Karachi

Pakistan to ease visa regime for Sikh pilgrims, says PM

Indian efforts to suppress Kashmir issue failing at every forum, says Qureshi

Jadhav’s statement endorses Pakistan’s stance, India admits

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Mideast

Hezbollah Chief Says ‘No More Red Lines’ Against Israel

Israel's act of aggression against Lebanon threatens global security: Iran

Hezbollah chief says all Israeli forces at risk in case of new attack on Lebanon

Iran Warns EU of Reviewing Commitments To N-Deal

Rouhani says Iran’s answer to US talks will ‘always be negative’

Erdogan’s AKP to expel ex-premier from party: Report

Israel lifts Gaza fuel restriction after calm returns

Arab Coalition: Saudi-UAE committee working to de-escalate in Yemen

Iran, Syria to develop banking ties, set up joint bank: Report

Israel plots to create rift among Palestinians: Haniyeh

ICC judges order prosecutor to reopen case of Israel raid on Gaza flotilla

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Africa

UN Official Blasts Nigeria’s Use Of ‘Lethal Force’ On Muslims

Top security official, three gunmen dead following gunfire exchange in Tunisia

Presidential campaign opens in Tunisia after Essebsi death

At least 3 killed, 4 injured in Somalia suicide bombing

Security officer, 3 militants killed in Tunisia clashes

Nigeria: Residents Flee As Boko Haram Attacks Chibok Again

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Arab World

Arab Parliament Urges Honduras, Nauru to Reconsider Jerusalem Al-Quds Decisions

Lebanon Rescue Talks Follow Lull in Fighting

Syrian MP Discloses Erdogan's Abundant Compromises on Idlib in Russia Visit

Al-Jolani Collaborating with Washington to Prevent Dissolution of Tahrir Al-Sham

UN criticizes transfer of 1,600 displaced Iraqis

Civilian deliberately targeted in Saudi ‘double-tap’ airstrikes in Yemen: Report

Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone headed towards Saudi Arabia

Damascus hails Hezbollah attack on Israel across the Lebanese border

Shiite Muslims Prepare to Mark Ashura in Iraq

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North America

US Reaches Agreement with Taliban: US Peace Negotiator

Sanders Calls for Americans to Stand Together At Large Muslim Convention

At first Muslim presidential forum, Sanders reaps adoration of ISNA attendees

US envoy shows Afghan president draft Taliban deal

Bolton excluded from Afghanistan policy amid disagreement with Trump

Trump hard-line support for Israel aimed at evangelical base: Experts

US would withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan and close bases under peace plan

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South Asia

Bangladesh Bans Mobile Phone Access In Rohingya Camps

Karzai Met with Khalilzad In The Presence Of U.S. Ambassador And Afghanistan’s Political Elites

Taliban’s Red Unit commander among 35 killed after attacking Kunduz city: NDS

19 Taliban, ISIS militants killed in Nangarhar, Baghlan and Wardak operations

11 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces raid, airstrike in Uruzgan province

Afghan and U.S. forces kill 13 Taliban militants in Paktiya and Ghazni

Toll Rises To 16 Dead, More Than 100 Wounded In Kabul Blast: Official

CTTC chief: Jamaat-Shibir men carrying out attack against cops

Taliban claims massive VBIED explosion close to Green Village in Kabul city

Large explosion hits Kabul, dozens mostly civilians killed or wounded

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/rss-and-the-jamiat-ulema-e-hind-have-agreed-to-work-jointly-to-promote-harmony-and-accord-in-the-country/d/119642

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RSS and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Have Agreed To Work Jointly To Promote Harmony and Accord in the Country

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

Sep 03, 2019

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind (JuH) have agreed to work jointly to promote harmony and accord in the country, said functionaries of both organisations aware of the development.

On Friday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met the chief of JuH, Maulana Syed Arshad Madani in the city, and the two agreed to formalise a plan to create amity between their respective communities.

According to a person familiar with what transpired at the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity, RSS leader Ram Lal, who was recently made in-charge of the Samapark Vibhag, the outreach arm of the organisation, and who earlier served as the general secretary ( organisation) in the BJP, has been given the mandate to plan how the two organisations will share a platform.

During the meeting that lasted over an hour, Bhagwat is learnt to have assured Madani that Muslims in India have nothing to fear and that the Sangh’s ideology does not perceive them as different from Hindus.

The person cited in the first instance added that Madani underlined three issues that Muslims are worried about: mob lynching, names being left out of the national register of citizens (NRC) in Assam; and are generally afraid.

“Madani told Bhagwat that he did not agree to the ideology of Veer Savarkar and MS Golwalkar (the second sarsangachalak of the RSS) and the current atmosphere of fear and animosity is a cause of concern. Bhagwat for his part said one must look ahead and Hindutva means both Hindus and Muslims being together,” this person said. .

A second functionary familiar with the meeting said the issue of Ram Janmabhoomi and the restructuring of Jammu and Kashmir was not discussed at the meeting.

“The meeting was planned over a year and a half ago, but could not be scheduled for among other reasons on account of the general elections. Sunil Deshpande (RSS functionary) came across the work that JuH does in the sectors of education and social welfare and reached out to us,” said an aide of Madani.

The meeting between Bhagwat and Madani comes ahead of the Sangh’s upcoming Samanvay Baithak (coordination meeting) in Rajasthan’s Pushkar next week, which will be attended by 150 functionaries and the top brass of the RSS and the BJP.

Reacting to the meeting between Bhagwat and Madani, a senior RSS functionary said this is not the first time that Muslim leaders have engaged with the Sangh. “When K Sudarshan was the Sarsangachalak, he had meetings with several leaders from Muslim and Christian communities. In 2009, he met Shia cleric Hamidul Hasan when a controversy erupted over chanting Vande Mataram; a few years later he also met Kalbe Sadiq the then vice-president of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB),” the functionary said. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rss-muslim-body-to-join-hands-to-promote-harmony/story-qTyRy436TRJ3LPOLOt3knM.html

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Ravidas Temple: Muslim Groups Support Dalit Community Demand, Joint Protest on September 15

September 2, 2019

Representatives of several Muslim organizations on Monday supported the Dalit community's demand for reconstructing a Ravidas temple in Tuglakabad forest area and said they would organize a joint protest in the national capital on September 15.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had demolished the temple on August 10 on the orders of the Supreme Court.

On August 21, a massive protest in the national capital on the issue turned violent, following which Dalit group Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and 95 others were arrested on the charge of rioting.

At a press conference here, Mulana Fazlul Manan Shahi, the Imam of Teele Wali Masjid in Lucknow, said, "We feel the pain caused by the temple's demolition as we have gone through a similar experience. We share the grief of our Dalit brothers. We will be there to rebuild the temple."

Mufti Aeyaaz Arshad Qasmi, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, said, "If the government does not rebuild the temple, we will hit the streets on September 15. We will do all that we can. We will take legal recourse too."

Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi, the general secretary of Anjuman-e-Haideri, alleged that the "government misled the apex court by furnishing fake documents about the acquisition of the land where the temple stood."

"According to law, land belonging to any religious structure cannot be acquired. The government acquired the land in question in 1986. There is enough evidence to prove that the temple existed before 1986," he claimed.

"Muslims and Dalits communities stand together on the issue. We demand the temple be built at its original place and Azad and his supporters, who have been arrested on false charges, be released immediately," Naqvi said, adding on September 15, the Muslim community will take put a peaceful march to the site in Tughlakabad where the temple stood.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ravidas-temple-muslim-groups-support-dalit-community-demand-joint-protest-september-1594627-2019-09-02

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Any Process That Could Leave Large Numbers of People without A Nationality Would Be An Enormous Blow To Global Efforts To Eradicate Statelessness: UN Urges India Not To Render Anyone Stateless

03.09.2019

The U.N. has called on India to not render anyone stateless after the country's handling of citizenship rolls in the northeastern state of Assam.

On Saturday, authorities in Assam published the final list of the National Registration of Citizens (NRC), leaving out some 1.9 million people in the northeastern state of Assam.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, in a statement Sunday expressed his concern over the publication of NRC that may put large numbers of people in Assam at risk of becoming stateless.

"Any process that could leave large numbers of people without a nationality would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness," he added. "I appeal to India to ensure that no one is rendered stateless by this action, including by ensuring adequate access to information, legal aid, and legal recourse in accordance with the highest standards of due process" stressed Grandi.

The Muslim community in Assam has been subjected to multiple rights violations as they are considered foreigners by the Assamese community.

Citizenship and illegal migration are volatile issues in the tea-growing, oil-rich Assam, home to more than 32 million people, about one-third of whom are Muslims. In the Nellie massacre in 1983, around 2,000 Muslims were killed in a violent protest by a native Assamese group.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India from Muslim-majority Bangladesh after it declared independence from Pakistan in 1971, setting off a nine-month civil war. Most of them settled in Assam and the neighboring state of West Bengal where there are similar demands to send back illegal Muslim immigrants.

https://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2019/09/03/un-urges-india-not-to-render-anyone-stateless

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Boycotting non-Muslim businesses bad for Malaysian economy, says Perlis mufti

03 September 2019

BY THASHA JAYAMANOGARAN

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — While supportive of a campaign to buy Muslim-made products first, Perlis Mufti Datuk Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has panned calls to boycott non-Muslim businesses.

The religious leader said the anti-Muslim campaign does not help the Malaysian economy improve.

“Although there are significant anti-Muslim attitudes especially among politicians, not all non-Muslims are like that.

“Some of them have good relations and have respect for the Muslim community. Islam does not teach us to hate those who do not,” he said in his Facebook page last night.

Asri said instead of such boycott, the campaign to prioritise buying Muslim-made products is a better option as it helps the economy.

“In other words, we put the effort in different ways to strengthen the economy among ourselves,” he said.

He further pointed out that boycotts are going to be tough as some key products required by Muslims are not produced by the Muslims themselves.

“Other parties should not see this campaign to buy products from Muslims as a form of enmity. We are just merely trying to strengthen our economy, just like how others are doing,” he said in his statement.

Calls for the boycott originated from the Islamic Consumers Association of Malaysia’s suggestion to the Islamic Development Department on August 23, when they said halal certificates should be issued in the native language of the product’s manufacturers so that consumers can identify if they are Muslim or otherwise.

Yesterday Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said there has not been any reported effect of the call to boycott halal products sold by non-Muslims.

He said none of the business associations he is in contact with as minister had informed him of any noticeable impact from the call.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/03/boycotting-non-muslim-businesses-bad-for-malaysian-economy-says-perlis-muft/1786743

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'Husband of Pak Sikh girl member of Saeed's JuD'

Sep 3, 2019

Jagjeet Kaur, the Pakistani Sikh girl who was allegedly abducted, converted to Islam and married to a Muslim man, will continue to stay at the Lahore-based Darul Uloom (an Islamic education centre and shelter) for the next one week, even as her family and community representatives are pressuring the Imran Khan government to send her home.

The girl couldn't be produced in court on Monday and the court fixed September 9 for the next hearing of the case, Pakistan media reports said. Jagjeet, who claims to be 19 years old, had married Muhammad Hassan, reported to be a member of Mumbai terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa, on August 28. While her family has maintained that she was kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam, the girl has said in court that she embraced Islam and married Hassan on her own will. She also claimed that her family had concocted the story of her abduction.

Sources said Sikh leaders were likely to hold a meeting with Pakistan PM Imran Khan. "It's surprising Jagjeet was sent to Darul Uloom, whose main objective is to spread education of the Quran, prepare specialists in Islamic and modern studies, make students aware of Jamia Darul Uloom Islamia, and prepare scholars to preach Islam," said the sources in Pakistan.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/husband-of-pak-sikh-girl-member-of-saeeds-jud/articleshow/70953009.cms

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Hezbollah chief says ‘no more red lines’ against Israel

2 September 2019

Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader said on Monday that while a flare-up with Israel at the border had ended, the episode had launched a “new phase” in which the Iran-backed movement no longer has red lines.

In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the new focus, now in the hands of fighters in the field, would be on targeting Israeli drones entering Lebanon’s skies.

“Yesterday, the resistance broke Israel’s biggest red line in decades,” he said.

“In the past, when we were attacked, we responded in the Shebaa Farms,” a disputed area along the Lebanon-Israel ceasefire line, he said.

“But yesterday, the response was across the frontier,” within Israel’s internationally recognised borders, crossing what he said Israel considers a red line.

Today, Nasrallah said, “there are no more red lines.”

The threat came after Hezbollah said Sunday its fighters had “destroyed” a military vehicle on the road to the Avivim barracks in northern Israel, killing or wounding those inside.

Israel’s army said it had responded with around 100 artillery shells after Hezbollah fired two or three anti-tank missiles at a battalion headquarters and military ambulance, hitting both.

Israeli officials refuted claims of casualties.

Sunday’s exchange of fire over the Lebanese-Israeli border came a week after Hezbollah accused Israel of carrying out a drone attack on its southern Beirut stronghold.

On August 24, Israel also said it had carried out strikes in Syria to avert an Iranian drone attack.

Hezbollah said those strikes killed two of its members.

On Monday, Nasrallah vowed to hit “deep inside Israel,” and not just along the border, in case of a new Israeli attack.

“If you attack us, your borders, soldiers and settlments -- including those on the border and those deep inside (Israel) -- will be threatened and targeted,” he said.

“If there is any aggression against Lebanon, there will be no such thing as international borders.”

The Hezbollah leader said the “first phase” of the response to last week’s Israeli attacks on Syria and Lebanon had ended.

But he said his group would target Israeli drones over Lebanese air space.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/02/Hezbollah-chief-says-no-more-red-lines-against-Israel-.html

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UN official blasts Nigeria’s use of ‘lethal force’ on Muslims

Sep 3, 2019

A United Nations rapporteur strongly condemns Abuja’s application of deadly violence against the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN).

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, made the remarks in a report in the country’s capital on Monday. She was presenting her findings after a 12-day-long investigation.

The official deplored the "arbitrary deprivation of life" and the excessive use of lethal force in the case of processions held by the IMN back in 2015, Reuters reported.

Nigeria’s military attacked the movement’s members that year as they were holding religious processions, with Abuja alleging that the Muslims had blocked a convoy of the country’s defense minister. The movement has categorically rejected the allegation, and said the convoy had intentionally crossed paths with the IMN’s members to whip up an excuse for attacking them.

The military also raided the house of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaki, the movement’s leader, at the time.

During the escalation, the 66-year-old was beaten and lost his left eye. His wife sustained serious wounds, and three of his sons and more than 300 of his followers were killed.

Callamard said a move by the government to ban the group appeared be based on what the authorities thought the IMN could become rather than its actions. She said she had not been presented with any evidence to suggest the group was weaponized and posed a threat to the country.

On a general note, the official cautioned that Nigeria's multiple security problems had come to create a crisis that required urgent attention and could lead to instability in other African countries.

Callamard said the police and military had resorted to an excessive use of deadly force across the West African country which, combined with a lack of effective investigations and meaningful prosecution, had caused a lack of accountability.

"The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern," she said, and finally warned that the country had turned into a "pressure cooker of internal conflict."

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/03/605177/Nigeria-deadly-violence-Muslims-Zakzaky

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Arab Parliament urges Honduras, Nauru to reconsider Jerusalem al-Quds decisions

Sep 2, 2019

The Arab Parliament has called on Honduras and the tiny Pacific Ocean island state of Nauru to reconsider their decisions on recognizing occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of Israel.

The speaker of the legislative body of the Arab League, Mishaal bin Fahm al-Salami, on Monday, voiced “full rejection for Honduras' decision to open a trade office with diplomatic status in al-Quds and Nauru's recognition of the occupied city as the capital of Israel.”

“Such irresponsible decisions and measures blatantly violate international law and are categorically rejected by the Arab peoples,” Salami stressed in a statement.

The statement noted that any decision meant to change the status quo of occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds is “legally ineffective and considered null and invalid.”

It called on the two countries to abide by the United Nations resolutions concerning the historical and legal status of East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Honduras on Sunday opened a trade mission with diplomatic status in Jerusalem al-Quds – a move the Latin American country’s president said was a “first step” toward moving the embassy to the city.

Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez had said in March that he would open a trade office in Jerusalem al-Quds, calling the city “the capital of Israel.”

Late last month, the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said it would file a complaint at the United Nations against Honduras.

The ministry condemned the Honduran president’s decision to inaugurate the diplomatic office in the disputed holy city as “direct aggression against the Palestinian people and their rights, and a flagrant violation of international law and resolutions.”

It said that it would ask Arab League member states to condemn the move, and push for punitive measures against Honduras for disregard of its obligations under Security Council resolutions, which condemn the recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's capital and slam the transfer of embassies from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

The ministry noted that Palestinian officials would also contact the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) General Secretariat for the same purpose, and demand a trade boycott action against Honduras.

US President Donald Trump sparked controversy by officially recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital in December 2017, before moving his country's embassy there from Tel Aviv in May 2018.

Guatemala and Paraguay later followed in Washington’s footstep, before the latter reversed its decision after just four months.

Israel lays claim to the entire Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as occupied territory and Palestinians consider it the capital of their future state.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605144/Arab-Parliament-urges-Honduras-Nauru-to-reconsider-decisions-on-Jerusalem-alQuds

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US reaches agreement with Taliban: US peace negotiator

Shadi Khan Saif 

02.09.2019

An agreement on paper has been reached in principle with the Taliban, top U.S. peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Monday.

In an interview with Afghanistan's Tolo News, he said the U.S. forces would vacate five military bases in Afghanistan in initial 135 days after signing of the deal.

He added the U.S. President Donald Trump will decide where and at what level the deal will be signed between the officials from the two sides i.e. Taliban and the U.S.

He added door has been opened for peace talks among the Afghans after failure to win the war and intensified clashes.

Khalilzad said the return of the ''Emirate'' (Taliban's regime 1996 - 2001) is not acceptable to the U.S. and Washington wants a government in Afghanistan formed through negotiations.

Over the weekend, the U.S. and Taliban announced to have concluded the latest round of marathon peace talks in Doha, Qatar.

''We are at the threshold of an agreement [with the Taliban]'', Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said early Sunday morning as he left Doha for Kabul.

''We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable & sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country'', the Afghanistan-born seasoned U.S. diplomat tweeted on Sunday.

This comes days after the Taliban stormed Baghlan and Kunduz provinces in the north killing over 200 people, mostly Taliban militants, security forces and civilians in past two days, according to officials.

Afghanistan has witnessed a surge in violence ahead of this month’s presidential elections, which the Taliban insurgents oppose.

The U.S. envoy hinted the proposed intra-Afghan peace talks might take place in Norway. Khalilzad said concerns remain surrounding the elections, but the U.S. does not explicitly oppose holding the landmark elections.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-reaches-agreement-with-taliban-us-peace-negotiator/1571357

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India

 

Don't decide Ayodhya case on Hindus' belief: Muslim parties to SC

Sep 3, 2019

NEW DELHI: Contesting the claims of Hindu parties for ownership of the 2.77 acre disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya, Muslim parties on Monday told the Supreme Court that the case could not be decided on the basis of Hindus' belief and faith that Lord Ram was born at the disputed site by glossing over recorded historical facts since 1934 about a 'living' mosque.

For the Muslim parties, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said the SC's decision in this case would have grave impact on the future of India, its secularism and the secular character of the Constitution.

"What is to be determined and how in this case? How will the court determine the exact location of Lord Ram's birthplace?" he asked. Opening the arguments for Muslim parties on the 17th day of hearing before a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer, the senior advocate faulted an observation from Justice Chandrachud that the court has to do a balancing act while hearing this case.

Asserting that Muslims were rightful owners of the disputed site, Dhavan said, "The entire secular structure of this country will crumble if we do a balancing act in this case, as was said by Justice Chandrachud. There are no Hindu motifs in Babri Masjid. Just because a peacock or a lotus picture was found on some slab, does it mean it was a Hindu structure?

"In 1934, Hindus damaged the masjid. In 1949, they trespassed into the masjid and placed idols inside it. In 1992, the Hindus demolished it. Where do these facts stand for consideration before the Supreme Court? Do we lose sight of contemporary historical facts and travel into faith and belief to decide this case? And Hindus say their rights are to be protected. Is it a Hindu Constitution that their rights would be protected despite all these historical facts stacked against their claim?"

When the bench said there was no need to go into Hindu Constitution as it was a secular Constitution, Dhavan said it was important to discern certain things from the manner in which some Hindu parties had argued their case. "It is important for the future of the country," he added.

He said the mosque was built on vacant land and assailed the ASI report about evidence of a huge Hindu structure underneath the demolished Babri Masjid. "The ASI dug 90 trenches and found some Hindu structure dating back to several periods of history. This means these structures belonged to several periods and which had become ruins. When the mosque was built, it was over barren land. No definite conclusion about pre-existence of Hindu structure at the site can be derived from the ASI report," he added.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ex-union-minister-krishna-tirath-rejoins-congress/articleshow/70952828.cms

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"Present Relevant Arguments": Top Court To Muslim Parties In Ayodhya Case

September 03, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Babri mosque was attacked in 1934 by Hindus who then trespassed in 1949 and demolished it in 1992, Muslim parties said in the Supreme Court on Monday. "Please do not go into all this. Your arguments should be relevant to issues," the top court said in response to the argument.

A 5-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which commenced hearing arguments from the Muslim side on 17th day of the crucial proceedings, was told by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan that the historical assertions and facts cannot be relied upon completely in deciding the lawsuits.

"In 1934, you (Hindus) break the masjid and in 1949, you commit trespass and finally, in 1992, you demolish the mosque...and after all the destructions, you say that the Britishers collaborated against Hindus and now say that our right must be protected," said Mr Dhavan, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board and one of the original litigants, M Siddiq.

Mr Dhavan said all these issues have been raised by the other side and he should be allowed to respond as this hearing was related to the "future of this country".

Senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan, appearing for the deity, also got up and said that Mr Dhavan should deal with the case of plaintiff (Muslim parties).

"He is free to place his case, the way he wants to," the CJI said.

Mr Dhavan told the bench, which also comprised justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and SA Nazeer, that Justice SU Khan, one of the three judges of Allahabad HC, had noted down that historical fact cannot be the ground enough to decide the title.

"As far as title suit of civil nature is concerned, there is no room of historical facts and sometimes, they will lead to erroneous conclusions," Mr Dhavan said, quoting the HC verdict.

At the outset, Mr Dhavan referred to the issues which he would address and said that it had been argued by the Hindu parties that when Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi, the nature of regime change was ''Darul Islam'' and in this form, the king does not automatically become the owner of the entire state.

Then he said that it has been argued that only Hindu law will apply in deciding the dispute and moreover the concept of ''Swayambhu'' (on its own) has been used to say that as Lord Ram appeared on his own at the land.

"The question of ''Swayambhu'' does not arise, because it was raised first time in 1989 when the suit was filed on behalf of ''Ram Lalla Virajman'' through a next friend," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/present-relevant-arguments-top-court-to-muslim-parties-in-ayodhya-case-2094571

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Ayodhya: SC assures break to lawyer for Muslim parties on Friday to prepare arguments

Sep 2, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, which had decided to conduct day-to-day hearing in the politically sensitive Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, assured a counsel for Muslim parties on Monday that it would grant him break on Friday to prepare arguments.

Senior lawyer Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for Sunni Waqf Board and one of the original litigants, M Siddiq, told a 5-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that he wanted to avail the mid-week break, as promised, to prepare of the case.

"My lords had said that I could get a mid-week break, can it be Wednesday," Dhavan said.

"Take it on Friday, it will be more convenient," the bench, which commenced hearing arguments from the Muslim side on 17th day of the crucial proceedings, told Dhavan.

At the outset, Dhavan expressed regrets for "breaking decorum" of the court by objecting to the submissions of some lawyers for the Hindu parties including senior advocate P N Mishra and said that sometimes he has been "irritating".

On August 9, Dhavan had objected to the apex court's decision to conduct day-to-day hearing in the case saying that it will be "inhuman" and "practically impossible" for him to prepare his case.

"We will continue day-to-day hearing as ordered earlier," the bench, also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, had said.

It had however assured Dhavan that it would consider granting mid-week breaks to the senior lawyer if he needed them for preparing the case.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ayodhya-sc-assures-break-to-lawyer-for-muslim-parties-on-friday-to-prepare-arguments/articleshow/70950039.cms

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Counsel for Babri Mosque side: There was no massive structure, Hindu motifs at site, SC told

September 3, 2019

Rejecting the Archeological Survey of India’s report that there was a “massive structure” at the disputed site in Ayodhya and Hindu motifs inside the Babri Masjid, the counsel for the mosque side on Monday told the Supreme Court that there was no need to delve into distant history and what was relevant was who had the title to the site when the sovereignty of the area was passed on to the British.

“There was no massive structure at the site and no Hindu motifs. Just because there is a peacock or lotus does not mean they are Hindu,” Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for the main appellant M Siddiq, told a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. The bench also comprising Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, is hearing appeals against the September 30, 2010 verdict of the Allahabad High court which ordered a three-way division of the disputed 2.77 acres. The bench commenced hearing arguments from the mosque side on the 17th day of the proceedings

Dhavan was referring to the arguments of the temple side that the recovery of lotus and peacock motifs discounted the claim that it was a mosque. “The Roman empire had every possible animal,” he said. Denying that there was a massive structure at the site, the counsel pointed to flaws in the methodology adopted by the ASI.

He also sought to contradict the claim that the presence of a well at the site reinforced the temple’s case, saying “there were no wells in the Vedic period”.

Disputing the argument that the presence of a “parikrama route” around the structure could be considered as proof of a temple in the middle, Dhavan said, “Parikrama (circumambulation) is not an Ashwamedha sacrifice where a horse runs around and all that territory belongs to the king… parikrama is only a form of worship, it is not a form of evidence”, and asked “does a parikrama entitle you to actual title of the place?”

Dhavan said that it will create difficulties if Hindu-Muslim issues were to be decided on the basis of such evidence given by persons.

“The important question is with whom was the title of the place when the sovereignty of this part of the country passed on to the British,” the senior counsel said, adding there is proof that it was a mosque. He contended that as far as a civil suit was concerned, there was no question of relevance of historical facts, and if they were relied on, it would lead to erroneous conclusions.

Dhavan argued that the judgment of Justice Sudhir Agarwal of the Allahabad HC was based on “conjectures or preponderance of probability”. “How do you do a preponderance of probability of historical dates,” he asked, adding that “your Lordships (are) being urged to do guess work”.

Referring to arguments that some foreign travellers before the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb had not mentioned the mosque in their travelogues and that this was because it did not exist there at the time, Dhavan said Marco Polo had not seen the Great Wall of China but this could not be argued to contend that the wall did not exist.

Taking the court through the problems of relying on what historians had said in support of the temple, Dhavan said, “Mughal historians will have a different version” and asked “are we going to play amateur historians?”.

He said the court was being asked to draw a negative reference from the fact that since one of the travellers had not seen the mosque during Babar’s time, it must have been built during Aurangzeb’s reign.

At this, Justice Chandrachud pointed out that such an argument not to rely on historical evidence would also affect his case, which was built on the “positive case” that the Babri Masjid was built during Babar’s time and the reference to inscriptions which were based on history.

Agreeing, Dhavan said there was no need to go into such historical evidence and the only proof to be taken into account is from 1858. He claimed that Hindus followed ‘yuga’ and asked how that can help determine dates.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/counsel-for-babri-mosque-side-there-was-no-massive-structure-hindu-motifs-at-site-sc-told-5960275/

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Ayodhya case: Lawyer representing Sunni Waqf Board receives threat letter, SC to hear his contempt plea tomorrow

September 2, 2019

The Supreme Court Monday agreed to hear on Tuesday a contempt plea filed by senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, who is representing Muslim parties in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case. He claimed that he was threatened by a retired government officer for taking up the matter.

Dhavan, who was represented by advocate Kapil Sibal in court, was told by a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi that his plea would be heard the next day.

“It will be listed for hearing tomorrow,” the bench, which also includes justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S A Nazeer, said.

Ananthakrishnan G

@axidentaljourno

Supreme Court lists for Tuesday a contempt plea by Sr Adv Rajeev Dhavan alleging threats for representing the Muslim parties in the #Ayodhya hearing @IndianExpress

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Dhavan, who represents lead petitioner M Siddiq and the All India Sunni Waqf Board in the Ayodhya case, has said that he received a letter on August 14, 2019, from N Shanmugam, a retired education officer, threatening him for appearing for the Muslim parties.

He also alleged that he has been accosted both at home and in the court premises by several people, news agency PTI reported.

Dhavan, in his plea, said that by sending the letter the alleged contemnor has committed criminal contempt because “he is intimidating a senior advocate who is appearing for a party/parties before the apex court and discharging his duties as a senior advocate and he ought not to have sent such a letter.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/ayodhya-babri-masjid-case-rajiv-dhavan-plea-5958566/

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90% of Kashmir free of daytime restrictions, says J&K principal secretary

Sep 2, 2019

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir principal secretary Rohit Kansal on Monday said that 90 per cent of the Valley was free of daytime restrictions.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that on the law and order front, out of 111 police stations in Kashmir, daytime restrictions have been fully lifted from 92 police stations, up from 81 last week, he said.

"This makes 90 per cent of the Valley free of daytime restrictions of any kind," Kansal said.

"Jammu and Ladakh already continue to be free of all such restrictions and in totality, we have 93 per cent of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh free of any prohibitory orders today," the principal secretary said.

He said that over 26,000 landlines are functional in the Valley.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/90-of-kashmir-free-of-day-time-restrictions-says-jk-principal-secretary/articleshow/70948829.cms

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Some families meet Kashmir political prisoners, Omar Abdullah gets visit from sister

Sep 2, 2019

SRINAGAR: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah's sister met him on Monday, the 29th day of his house arrest, officials said, adding that some detained political leaders were now being allowed visits by their families.

Safiya, whose father Farooq Abdullah is also under house arrest, met her brother for the second time since August 5, when Jammu and Kashmir's special status was revoked. Omar Abdullah's aunt Suraya Mattoo has also met him, officials said.

As a host of political leaders continue to remain under detention, Jammu and Kashmir's three former chief ministers Farooq and Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti as well as others are now allowed brief visits by their relatives in accordance with the jail manual, officials said.

Three-time chief minister Farooq Abdullah is under house arrest at his Gupkar Road residence while his son Omar is confined to Hari Niwas, a state guesthouse-turned into a jail, barely 500 metres away.

Mehbooba is in detention in a hut at Chashmeshahi near the governor's residence Raj Bhavan.

On August 28, PDP chief Mehbooba's mother and sister met her at Chashmeshahi where she has been in custody since the early hours of August 5, when the Centre announced that Jammu and Kashmir's special status was being abrogated and the state would be divided into two union territories.

Over the last week, the relatives of some of these leaders have been allowed to meet them twice for roughly 15 minutes, officials said.

No details of the meetings were immediately available.

Mehbooba's daughter Iltija said she, too, has no news of how the meetings went.

"My grandmother and aunt were allowed to visit my mother only after I decided to speak to the media. What about the families of those whose members have been jailed in Agra? Who will give them answers? Do they not deserve to know?" she asked.

Since August 5, the government has shifted 140 persons, including rights activists, stone pelters and political activists in various prisons in Uttar Pradesh.

For a month now, eight million people of her state have been punished, Iltija told PTI over the phone. She refused to divulge her location.

The state has been cleaved and there is an "unprecedented and oppressive clampdown", she said.

She said Kashmiris deserve answers from the government about "when this siege will end instead of callous radio silence".

"If former chief ministers and elected representatives are being treated in this manner, one shudders to think about the plight of party workers who at the cost of their lives ensured democracy germinated in the valley," Iltija said.

There is no official word about how many politicians have been detained. But about 60 top-rung politicians belonging to all political parties except the BJP are believed to be in detention in guesthouses, their homes and hotels which have converted into jails and also in prisons both within the state and outside. Another 400 political activists are also said to be in preventive detention.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/some-families-meet-kashmir-political-prisoners-omar-abdullah-gets-visit-from-sister/articleshow/70949787.cms

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Sitaram Yechury submits report on Kashmir visit in Supreme Court

Sep 2, 2019

NEW DELHI: CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court giving details of his August 29 Kashmir visit during which he met his ailing colleague Yusuf Tarigami, party sources said.

The affidavit was submitted in the court in a sealed envelope.

The apex court had permitted Yechury to go meet Tarigami, a four-time former MLA, after he filed a habeas corpus petition.

Sources said the affidavit gives details of Tarigami's health condition and stresses on the need for him to visit AIIMS, where he was being treated. It also talks about the situation in Kashmir which has been under heavy security cover since August 5, when the government abrogated the state's special status under Article 370.

Yechury had attempted to visit Tarigami twice earlier, only to be forced to return from Srinagar airport.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sitaram-yechury-submits-report-on-kashmir-visit-in-supreme-court/articleshow/70949594.cms

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Kartarpur corridor: India-Pak talks tomorrow

Sep 3, 2019

AMRITSAR: The Indian and Pakistani delegations are scheduled to hold the third round of discussions at Attari international border on Wednesday to finalise the remaining modalities for the visit of pilgrims to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur Sahib, Pakistan from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district of India through the under-construction Kartarpur corridor.

The talks hold significance not just because they come on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, but also as the tension between two the countries is at its peak after the abrogation of the special status given to Jammu & Kashmir by New Delhi.

Earlier on August 30, technical experts of both the countries had held a meeting at Dera Baba Nanak. The meeting had concluded hurriedly as the Pakistan delegation was to observe the 'Kashmir Hour' on its side.

Sources said various issues, including the process of issuance of permits by Pakistan, final figure on the number of pilgrims who could travel across the border, travel timing, pilgrimage on foot, security issues and the amount of cash devotees could carry to Pakistan would be given final shape.

"We need to reassure that Pakistan will desist from Khalistan propaganda and keep the anti-India and pro-Khalistan elements at a bay and also not incite pilgrims with vitriolic attack against Kashmir and Punjab," sources said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kartarpur-corridor-india-pak-talks-on-wed/articleshow/70952916.cms

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India braces for Pak attack on NRC at UN rights council meet

Sep 3, 2019

NEW DELHI: As it prepares to take on Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Council over its allegations of human rights violations in J&K, India is also bracing itself for an imminent attack by Islamabad over Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC) .

India expects Pakistan to use the exclusion of 19 lakh Assam residents from the NRC as fodder for its propaganda about Modi government's "communal bias", and is prepared to rebut what it calls "calumny".

Pakistani leaders, including its PM Imran Khan, have already enlisted NRC as a prop for the bellicose rhetoric unleashed against India in the wake of the decisions on J&K, and government sources here reckon that the effort will move into top gear at the 42nd session of the HRC slated for September 9-27.

Sources said India, which has decided to augment its presence at the HRC, plans to rebut Pakistan's likely effort to raise NRC exclusions to accuse India of anti-Muslim bias by pointing out that the Supreme Court, and not the government of the day, was the principal driver for the NRC exercise. "This is not an executive-driven process. The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court of India directly. It has set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far," said a source familiar with preparations for the looming showdown with Pakistan.

Officials also stressed that NRC flowed from the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the government of India, the state government of Assam, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad in response to the "anti-foreigner" upsurge. "The fact is that you have more Hindu organisations protesting against NRC than Muslim bodies. But since it is inconvenient for them, Pakistan will seek to shove it under the carpet at the HRC session," a source said .

" At this stage, this implies that a total of some 33 million cases have been considered, with a total of 1.90 million people not having been included in the final list. From a preliminary assessment, it seems that the ratio of excluded persons are as per the proportion of different communities in the overall population," the source added .

Officials also said those who don't figure in the NRC published on August 31 have not been rendered "stateless" or "foreigner". The law empowers them to appeal their exclusions within 120 days before tribunals. Two hundred tribunals have been added to the existing 100, and the Assam government plans to set up 200 more by December .

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-braces-for-pak-attack-on-nrc-at-un-rights-council-meet/articleshow/70952686.cms

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Malé Declaration overlooks Pakistan claim on Kashmir issue

September 3, 2019

A day after India stalled Pakistan’s attempt to rake up the Kashmir issue at the South Asian Speakers’ Summit in the Maldives, the Male Declaration, adopted at the meeting on Monday, ignored all assertions made by Islamabad on the matter.

“The South Asian Speakers’ Summit, while adopting the Male Declaration, overlooked all assertions made by the Pakistani parliamentary delegation,” sources in the Lok Sabha Secretariat said. The summit “unanimously” felt Kashmir was India’s “internal matter”, they said.

Before finalising the declaration, speakers held a roundtable on Monday on the concluding day. All efforts of the Pakistan delegation to get even a passing reference to Kashmir issue finding a mention in the declaration drew a nought, said sources. Besides Kashmir, Pakistan’s reference to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also could not find a place in Male Declaration, sources said.

The meeting, held in the Maldivian Parliament, Majlis, had witnessed a heated exchange between representatives of India and Pakistan. Qasim Suri, Deputy Speaker of the Pakistan National Assembly, tried to raise the Kashmir issue during a discussion on Sustainable Development Goals. India immediately raised a point of order and the presiding officer asked Suri to let the Indian representative, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh, speak. However, Suri did not yield, leading to a commotion.

Harivansh then hit out at Pakistan for raising India’s “internal matter” at the forum and criticised Islamabad for its “bid to politicise the multi-lateral forum”. Sources said that India’s position was prominently reflected in the declaration, which resolved to work collectively for the promotion of equality at work, equal remuneration and creation of jobs for youths. The declaration also accepted India’s views regarding food safety, nutrition and maternal, child and adolescent health in the Asia Pacific region.

On the sidelines of the summit, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla held bilateral talks with his Bhutanese counterpart Wangchuk Namgyel.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/male-declaration-overlooks-pakistan-claim-on-kashmir-issue-5960399/

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Pak officials by his side, Jadhav parrots Pak line

Sep 2, 2019

India’s Charge d’Affaires in Pakistan Gaurav Ahluwalia met Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav in Pakistan on Monday after the government accepted Islamabad’s consular access offer.

On the face of it though, the meeting proved to be of little use with a visibly harried Jadhav, as MEA said in a statement, parroting a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims.

This was Jadhav’s first meeting with any Indian government official after his arrest in March 2016.

Like in his meeting with his mother and wife in 2017, Jadhav’s remarks seemed tutored and meant to buttress Pakistan’s narrative that he was a serving Indian navy officer out to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan.

The meeting took place in the presence of Pakistani officials and was also recorded. Both sides though seemed restrained in their statements later, looking perhaps to avoid the ugly spat witnessed after Jadhav’s meeting with his family.

India had earlier told Pakistan in a note verbale, as reported by ToI on August 4, that it wanted Islamabad’s failure to provide Jadhav consular access before his trial "remedied" in the form of "private" access. India saw access only in private as fulfilling the mandate of ICJ judgment which held Pakistan guilty of violating Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by denying Jadhav consular access.

"While we await a comprehensive report, it was clear that Shri Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims. We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Cd’A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives," said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

Foreign minister S Jaishankar also spoken to Jadhav’s the mother and briefed her about the developments on Monday.

The meeting happened at a sub jail on the outskirts of Islamabad, starting 1200 hours, and lasted for close to 2 hours.

Pakistan foreign office said there was, on Indian request, no restriction on the language used for communication. Pakistan had in 2017 prevented Jadhav’s wife from talking to him in Marathi. Pakistan also claimed it had provided India "unimpeded and uninterrupted" consular access to Jadhav.

The government said consular access was a part of the binding obligations of Pakistan, as ordered by the ICJ, to ensure effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence awarded to Jadhav through a farcical process.

"The government remains committed to continue to work towards ensuring that Shri Jadhav receives justice at the earliest and returns safely to India," said Kumar.

When asked why India had accepted Pakistan’s "offer" after having earlier rejected it because of conditions imposed by Islamabad, sources here said the meeting was important also to gauge the health and well-being of Jadhav. India clearly doesn’t see the meeting on Monday as a one-off thing with officials suggesting India could again ask for access.

Pakistan claimed the meeting was recorded to ensure ``transparency’’ and that it was ``in line with standard operating procedures’’. In its first consular access offer, which India had rejected, Pakistan had cited jail manuals to deny India permission to speak to Jadhav in private. India though had responded by saying that jail manuals only deal with regular consular access and not remedial access which the ICJ judgement had sought.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-officials-by-his-side-jadhav-parrots-pak-line/articleshow/70951738.cms

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India backs peace deal which will not leave space for terrorists in Afghanistan: Vijay Gokhale

Sep 2, 2019

NEW DELHI: As the US and the Taliban close in on a deal, India on Monday said it has always supported a peace settlement in Afghanistan which will ensure stability and not leave ungoverned spaces for terrorists or their proxies to take advantage of.

Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, while briefing the media on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Russia this week, said that both India and Russia believe that whatever the outcome of the discussions between the US and the Taliban is, they hope to see a stable political situation.

India and Russia want to see a situation in Afghanistan where there is political order and where the peace agreement or the post-agreement process will hold.

"By and large, we have been on the same page with Russia on the issue. We are in touch with each other," he said.

On what sort of representatives India would send if invited for talks on Afghanistan, Gokhale said he does not want to speculate on it.

Asked if India and Russia feel the US-Taliban talks were legitimate considering the government was not part of negotiations, Gokhale said: "We support all peace initiatives. We have been a part of all of them and in some cases when we were not part of them initially we have been supportive of them."

"Our issue has been what is the post-settlement situation. In that regard, our situation has been clear, we support a system which has constitutional legitimacy, which has a political mandate, which will ensure stability and most importantly not leave ungoverned spaces for terrorists or their proxies to take advantage of," he said.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy leading efforts to forge a deal with the Taliban, has spent about a year meeting with the Taliban in Doha in a series of talks aimed at ending America's 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-backs-peace-deal-which-will-not-leave-space-for-terrorists-in-afghanistan-vijay-gokhale/articleshow/70951094.cms

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No scope for dialogue, Pakistan openly practices terrorism: MEA Jaishankar

September 2, 2019

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said that Pakistan openly practices terrorism and there is no scope for negotiations until Islamabad stops financing and recruitment of militant groups. Jaishankar, in an interview with POLITICO, was responding to questions on an op-ed written by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan in his New York Times column had said that it was urgent to begin discussions while a “nuclear shadow” hovers over South Asia. Responding to the call, Jaishankar said that the idea was a nonstarter while Pakistan “openly practices terrorism”.

“Terrorism is not something that is being conducted in dark corners of Pakistan. It’s done in broad daylight,” Jaishankar was quoted as saying. The relations between the two countries have been at an all-time low since the Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed following which India launched an airstrike deep inside Pakistan and attacked terror camps.

Responding to the situation in Kashmir, the minister said the security restrictions across the Valley would be eased in the “coming days”. He said the internet and telephone outages were needed to stop the activation of “terrorist assets” and to prevent “people who are doing violence to contact each other”.

“How do I cut off communications between the terrorists and their masters on the one hand, but keep the internet open for other people? I would be delighted to know,” Jaishankar said. “I would suggest to you that in the coming days you will see an easing up progressively,” he said.

Pakistan has been trying to raise the issue at various international fora, but India has maintained that it is an internal matter and has asked Islamabad to accept the reality.

Meanwhile, talking about India’s relations with US President Donald Trump, Jaishankar broached the challenges posed by a potential tariff war, India’s interest in resuming purchases of Iranian oil and US reservations about India’s acquisition of S-400 surface-to-air missiles. Discussing Trump’s increasingly hard stance on Indian tariffs, the minister said, “Like any relationship, there’s give and take…Our expectation is that our trade ministers will sit down in the near future. I think many of these issues are eminently [open] to resolution.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/no-scope-for-dialogue-pakistan-openly-practices-terrorism-mea-jaishankar-5959336/

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Europe

 

Boris Johnson linked to biggest spike in UK Islamophobia in 2018

Paul Peachey

Sep 2, 2019

UK prime minister Boris Johnson was behind the largest spike in anti-Muslim hate crime in 2018 after he compared women wearing the veil to “bank robbers”, according to new figures released on Monday.

Islamophobia monitoring group Tell Mama said anti-Muslim incidents increased by 375 per cent in a week after Mr Johnson likened women wearing burqas and niqabs to criminals and “letterboxes”.

The majority of the victims of the anti-Muslim abuse, which increased from eight to 38 in a week, were women wearing headscarves, it said.

Mr Johnson’s comments sparked an internal party investigation carried out by a panel of lawyers which cleared him of breaching its rules.

He had used the column to argue against the banning of headscarves, a move taken in European countries including Denmark, France and Belgium. Mr Johnson described the outcry at his comments as “confected indignation”.

The spike in incidents reported to Tell Mama, a respected monitoring group which also receives data from dozens of police forces, was greater than the increased threats that accompanied a high-profile Islamophobic campaign dubbed ‘Punish a Muslim Day’.

David Parnham, a white supremacist responsible for hundreds of racist letters, sent out notes offering awards for attacks on people and mosques and had urged a day of action in April last year. He was arrested after the day passed without major incident and he pleaded guilty in court to charges including soliciting murder.

Tell Mama said it had received nearly 3,000 verified and police reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2018. Fewer than a third of the threats it investigated were made online.

The total number of incidents were down from 2017 when the UK was struck by five terrorist attacks, four by Muslim radicals and one by a right-wing extremist, which left 36 people dead.

But the report said that its findings showed that a more general intolerance and hatred of Muslims was growing in the UK.

“Islamophobia is becoming normalised,” said Iman Atta, director of Tell Mama. “Role models should be careful for their words embolden others to use their words believing they are not going to be caught.”

The group said that 24 cases of anti-Muslim hate crime recorded in less than four weeks in August 2018 directly referenced Mr Johnson or the words he used.

He had written: “If you say that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I totally agree… I would go further and say that it is absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.

He added: “If a constituent came to my MP’s surgery with her face obscured, I should feel fully entitled… to ask her to remove it so that I could talk to her properly. If a female student turned up at school or at a university lecture looking like a bank robber then ditto.”

Mr Johnson’s column was published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper a month after he quit as foreign secretary over the Brexit strategy of Theresa May, who quit this year after failing to persuade MPs of the deal she had struck with the European Union.

Mr Johnson succeeded her in July with a vow to leave the EU by the end of October. Critics had pointed to his history of controversial comments during the leadership campaign but he was carried to power with the support of members of the right-of-centre Conservative Party.

His comments fuelled debate about Islamophobia within the ruling party. The foremost contenders for the leadership had agreed in a televised debate to set up an external inquiry into the issue if they became leader.

The party has said since Mr Johnson took over that it would hold an independent inquiry into Islamophobia but only after the party agreed a definition of what that meant.

A government statement did not address the spike in activity linked to Mr Johnson by Tell Mama. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “I am utterly appalled by hatred aimed at Muslims in Britain or at those of any faith, and I am determined to tackle it.”

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/boris-johnson-linked-to-biggest-spike-in-uk-islamophobia-in-2018-1.905160

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Swedish foreign minister says she has ‘new ideas’ for Yemen

September 03, 2019

AMMAN: In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom revealed that she has “new ideas” for ways to solve the war in Yemen.

“I think we have come up with some new ideas. We have shared some of our impressions and we have been talking to different actors, and so I think we will be even tougher in stopping the war. We have to protect children who are dying, and stop the immense suffering that is taking place,” she said.

Wallstrom is on a tour of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Oman, and hopes to speak to all actors in the Yemeni conflict. “We have to make sure that there are discussions on what is happening, to continue the implementation of agreements, and to work with all actors. We have to stop this war. We have to ease the suffering of those that need humanitarian help.”

She also told Arab News that she hopes to talk to as many countries as possible during the upcoming UN General Assembly to convince them to support the UN Refugee Agency (UNRWA), which has a $150 million deficit this year, due in part to the US’s decision to defund the agency providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“We have to raise the money. We will make every effort to do that, especially at the UN General Assembly, and we will insist on funding for the UNRWA.

“It is a constant problem — every year we do this and we will continue to do it. We would like to see a long-term political solution and to make sure that there is financing for refugees, because it is vital for millions of Palestinians.”

She also reaffirmed her support for the rights of Palestinians in the face of Israeli moves to annex further parts of the West Bank.

“Sweden recognized Palestine because we want to push for the two-state solution, we want to give hope to the people in Palestine and Palestinians everywhere. We want to make sure that we help Palestinians to fulfill their role in the two-state solution.

“We hope that we can share our experience. It would be helpful, too, if other countries would follow suit and recognize Palestine.”

Wallstrom played a role in drawing up the 2018 Stockholm agreement, the deal based around the port city of Hodeidah which, it had been hoped, would secure a ceasefire between Arab coalition-backed Yemeni forces and Houthi rebel militias in the area. That, though, has been complicated by subsequent events, with the Houthis taking the capital city of Aden in August.

“What has been happening in Aden has exasperated the situation — it has shown us the need for a solution. I think we have to act on several tracks right now. We have to make sure that there are discussions on what happened to continue the implementation of pre-existing agreements, and it is also important to work with all actors to achieve this.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548876/middle-east

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ICC prosecutor ordered to look again at charging Israel over 2010 Gaza flotilla raid

Taylor Heyman

Sep 2, 2019

The International Criminal Court has ordered its prosecutor to reconsider laying charges against Israel for a 2010 raid on a flotilla carrying aid to Gaza that killed 10 Turkish citizens.

"The prosecutor is directed to reconsider her decision by December 2, 2019,” presiding appeals judge Solomy Balungi Bossa told the court on Monday.

The Mavi Marmara was among eight ships trying to break Israel's naval blockade of Gaza on May 31, 2010, when it was boarded by Israeli marines in international waters.

They killed nine Turkish men and another died four years later in hospital.

A 2010 UN Human Rights Council report found that the Israelis used "an unacceptable level of brutality" and broke international laws in the operation.

After the killings, relations between Turkey and Israel fell apart but were mended in secret talks years later.

Israel offered an apology over the raid in 2013, gave permission for Turkish aid to reach Gaza through Israeli ports and in 2016 paid $20 million (Dh73.4m) to the families of those killed.

A legal team representing Comoros, where the Mavi Marmara was registered, took legal action against the Israeli government to the ICC in May 2013.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in 2014 that she would not prosecute Israel over the incident because it was "not of sufficient gravity"/

That meant the case could be determined as inadmissible before the ICC.

Ms Bensouda reaffirmed the decision in 2017 after judges said she must take another look at the case.

Although she has again been asked to reconsider, she retains the ultimate decision as to whether or not to initiate an investigation.

But Ms Bensouda was not spared criticism by her ICC colleagues, who said she incorrectly assumed that she could disagree with the legal terms set out by pre-trial judges when making her decision.

"The unfortunate language used by the prosecutor to express her disagreement demonstrates that she was entirely misinformed as to what was required of her," appeals judges said on Monday.

Ms Bensouda, who is due to step down as ICC prosecutor in 2021, has faced criticism in recent months after other cases collapsed.

Stoke White, the law firm representing Comoros, said Ms Bensouda should "waste no further time in opening an official and full investigation to get to the truth of Israel's actions".

"Victims have renewed hope that the ICC will deliver justice and accountability," the company said.

Gulden Sonmez, acting on behalf of the Comoros, said the ICC Appeals Chamber had made a strong decision, and he urged the public not to forget the plight of blockaded Palestinians in Gaza.

“Mavi Marmara lawsuits are a necessary challenge in the field of law,” Ms Sonmez wrote on Twitter.

“But let us not forget that the deadly blockade of Gaza and the Palestinian occupation continues.”

Dr Christine Schwobel-Patel, associate professor at Warwick Law School, said: "One of the main issues at play here is the squabbling between the organs of the ICC, mediated through different parties.

"The office of the prosecutor and the judicial divisions have been engaged in power struggles from day one.

"This squabbling does not only look bad for a court losing legitimacy because of its alleged anti-African bias and inability to see cases through the system in a timely and fair manner.

"More importantly, this is problematic for the victims of the situations. Their hopes rise and fall with this back and forth too.".

Dr Schwobel-Patel said that politics was also at play in the flotilla dispute, seeing it as an invitation for the ICC to consider the Palestine-Israel conflict "by using this incident as a springboard".

"However, those who are hopeful in this regard, particularly pro-Palestinian activists, are knocking at the wrong door," she said.

"The ICC has shown very little appetite to oppose strong states.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/icc-prosecutor-ordered-to-look-again-at-charging-israel-over-2010-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.905634

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Southeast Asia

 

Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik gets go-ahead to visit Malaysia mosque, but not to give speech

September 3, 2019

Controversial preacher Zakir Naik will not be allowed to give a ceramah during his visit to Masjid Cina in Krubong, Malaysia says the state’s top cop.

Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Raja Shahrom Raja Abdullah said Zakir was expected to attend the “A Night of Islamic Unity” event and that police had no objection.

“Our officers will be present to monitor the situation closely and safeguard public safety.

“We will ensure that the decision of Chief Minister (Adly Zahari) to bar Zakir from giving any speech in the state is adhered to, ” he said.

DCP Raja Shahrom said in order for Zakir to speak, approval must first be obtained from the state Islamic Religious Department.

“We only gave the green light for Zakir to join the prayers, ” he said.

Zakir is scheduled to attend the event at Masjid Cina on Sept 7 under the invitation from Melaka Industry, Trade and Investment Committee chairman Datuk Mohd Rafiq Naizamohideen, who is also the mosque chairman.

Mohd Rafiq said Zakir would be attending the prayers, but there would be no ceramah.

Last month, Adly said they would not allow Zakir to speak in the state.

The invitation had ruffled feathers among several state executive councillors.

State Communications, Multimedia, Youth and Sports Development Committee chairman Kerk Chee Yee said the invitation was tantamount to dishonouring Adly’s earlier decision to bar the controversial speaker in Melaka.

Kerk said Zakir was a controversial figure to many Malaysians and that the state government’s decision to uphold unity should be respected.State Agriculture, Agro-based Industries, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Committee chairman Norhizam Hassan Baktee said the decision was to protect the sanctity of Islam and prevent politicians from making use of Zakir to gain popularity.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/seasia/2019/09/03/indian-muslim-preacher-zakir-nik-gets-go-ahead-to-visit-malaysia-mosque-but-not-to-give-speech.html

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Stop depending on handouts, start being industrious, PM tells Muslims

02 September 2019

PHNOM PENH, Sept 2 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today urged Muslims to do away with the mentality of depending on others for aid and assistance.

The Malaysian prime minister said Muslims must constantly strive to be industrious, honest and efficient to enhance their socio-economic standing.

“It is very sad when we find Muslims everywhere mired in poverty and dependant on aid from others. Why? That is because they do not make enough effort.

“We know that when we own a trade or have a job, we do not have to rely on others.

“However, what we are seeing is the opposite we have the intelligence and the skills but we are not taking advantage of them. That is why we have to return to the foundations of Islam,” the premier said.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir received a courtesy call from Cambodian Muslim leader cum Senior Minister-in-charge of Islamic Affairs, Datuk Othman Hassan.

The prime minister, accompanied by his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, arrived in Phnom Penh today for a three-day official visit to Cambodia after 25 years at the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen.

At the same event, Dr Mahathir was honoured with the Muslim Exemplary Leadership award by the Cambodian Muslim Community in recognition of Malaysia’s role in assisting the Muslims in the country.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/02/stop-depending-on-handouts-start-being-industrious-pm-tells-muslims/1786609

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Minister: Trade groups yet to see signs of non-Muslim business boycott

02 September 2019

BY JERRY CHOONG

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution said there has not been any reported effect of the call to boycott halal products sold by non-Muslims.

He said none of the business associations he is contact with as minister has informed him of any noticeable impact from the call.

“So far they have not indicated that the boycott is affecting them,” Saifuddin said after officiating the closing ceremony of the i-Keep Sales Carnival in Pantai Dalam.

He expressed his disapproval of the boycott, saying harmony was vital to Malaysia as a multiracial, multicultural, and multireligious country.

“This is especially when it comes to economic dealings, and over matters of national prosperity.

“We should understand, respect and support one another. So if there are campaigns such as this, it becomes more difficult to uphold these values,” Saifuddin said.

He added social interdependency meant the best solutions were those that benefited all.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/02/minister-trade-groups-yet-to-see-signs-of-non-muslim-business-boycott/1786471

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Tok Mat: Nation needs new ‘Malaysia Narrative’, but with Malay-Muslims as priority

02 September 2019

BY EMMANUEL SANTA MARIA CHIN

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan today said the nation is in need of a new ‘Malaysia Narrative’, but stressed that it should prioritise and recognise Malay-Muslims as the majority race in the country.

Mohamad, fondly known as Tok Mat, also suggested a step towards reinforcing and reimplementing the National Culture Policy of 1971 which listed Bumiputera culture and Islam as the main driving force for the national culture.

“First, we cannot deny that there should be a construction of a new ‘Malaysia Narrative’. But it must not forgo the fact that the Malay-Muslims, as the majority race in the country should be given priority.

“This is done, as mentioned earlier, not to segregate and degrade other citizens to a lower class or strata. But to ensure stability and peace for all in Malaysia’s plural society,” he said in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

He pointed out three main principles within the National Culture Policy that should be understood and adhered to when forming this national culture, starting with the need for it to be based on the indigenous cultures of this region.

The policy also deems elements from other cultures to be accepted as part of the national culture if suitable, and for Islam to be maintained and recognised as an important component in the formulation of this new narrative.

“Therefore, politicians and civil societies alike should take the National Culture Policy as the basis for advocating the ideals of a nation that are well received by all Malaysians.

“The rise of extreme racial and religious tones in Malaysia’s political sphere has shown that any construction or deconstruction of the ‘Malaysia Narrative’ must be in tandem with the aspirations of the Malay-Muslim population in Malaysia.

“This Merdeka is not meaningless. This Merdeka is for us to acknowledge the fact that the politics of race and religion have always played a huge and significant part in Malaysia’s political discourse, and that they are critical in carrying forward the interests of different ethnicities,” he said in his post.

The statement by Mohamad was partially in response to a recent article by academic Professor Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, whose piece “A meaningless Merdeka” accused the Malay-Muslim community of potentially driving the nation into the ground and towards the path of irrelevancy.

The strongly-worded article by the professor had made veiled references that condemned the marriage between Umno and PAS.

He also pointed out the importance of politicians recognising their duty to make sure extreme narratives and rhetoric never supersede the interests of Malaysia.

Mohamad also suggested a three-pronged approach to addressing the nation’s current issues.

“First, is the active involvement of true and knowledgeable scholars and not pseudo-intellectuals (who think that their opinions alone matter) in nation-building and reform.

“Second, is the awareness of politicians from all political backgrounds to put forward principles of integrity and accountability above everything else, in their everyday conduct, both in the personal and public spheres of life.

“This is to ensure that they are trusted based on merit as well as good morals, and not by political rhetoric and personal dramatics alone.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/09/02/tok-mat-nation-needs-new-malaysia-narrative-1971-national-culture-policy-sh/1786553

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Philippines’ new region turns to Middle East for investment

September 03, 2019

MANILA: The interim chief minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), Murad Ibrahim, told Arab News on Monday that he was encouraging the international business community to consider investing in the newly established region

The BARMM is the new regional and political entity established under a peace agreement between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Philippines government early this year.

It is designed to provide enhanced self-governance to the Muslim-majority provinces. “It is very important for investors to come, in order to create job opportunities and also for the international community to see that something is happening on the ground,” Murad said.

In an interview conducted at his office in Cotabato City, Murad told Arab News that plans were afoot to hold an investors’ forum. “We are just finalizing our development plan.”

When questioned on how they would lure foreign businesses to invest in the region, Murad said that there is now relative peace in the region. “In fact, gradually many investors are now coming here to visit. So, I think it’s because of the situation, we now have relative peace in the area and they’ve also seen the conduct and turn out of the plebiscite (last January). There was overwhelming support from the people,” he said.

Murad also cited the decommissioning of an estimated 40,000 former Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) combatants, the military wing of the MILF, which he also chaired. The process will allow the smooth transition of BIAF members to civilian life.

“All of this sends the signal that the situation here is improving,” he stressed, adding that a recent meeting with an official from a Saudi delegation to the region had given him great encouragement.

“He gave his commitment that he will help convince the business community in Saudi Arabia to try to invest in the BARRM. He even asked for our development plan so he can present it to them,” Murad said.

“I could see they are really interested, especially given Saudi shortages of animal feeds. They need suppliers and they’re looking at us as a possible source. We have the potential to produce halal food, too so we can supply halal products as well.”

Last month, Murad led officials at a meeting with Malaysian representatives to discuss the possibility of strengthening development ventures between Malaysia and the BARMM.

Lawyer Wencelito Andanar, Malacañang’s special envoy to Malaysia, accompanied the Malaysian delegation comprising the Malaysian Embassy’s Charge D’Affaires Rizany Irwan Muhammad and Assistant Trade Councilor Irvin Francis, as well as officials of the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry headed by its president, Edward Ling in the two-day visit to Cotabato City.

Murad cited the importance of the meeting, which he said could “elevate the strategic partnership between BARMM and Malaysia from being peace partners to being development partners.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548836/world

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Missing Maldives journalist killed by Islamic radicals

September 2, 2019

MALE: A local extremist group linked to Al-Qaeda was responsible for the murder of three prominent Maldivians, including a journalist missing for more than five years, an independent commission in the Indian Ocean island republic has found.

The Presidential Commission on Investigation of Murders and Enforced Disappearances said Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla, a reporter with the independent Minivan News website, was abducted on Aug 8, 2014 and murdered at sea.

Husnu Al-Suood, the president of the commission, which was recently established by the Maldives government, told reporters in the capital Male late Sunday that the reporter popularly known as Rilwan received death threats from the group operating under the name Bilad-al-Sham on Facebook.

Al-Suood said the group was also responsible for the assassination of a moderate legislator in 2012 and liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed in 2017, and the attempted murder of another liberal blogger in 2012.

Rilwan’s disappearance sparked international concern, with the UN and rights organisations pressing then strongman president Abdulla Yameen to look into his case and ensure the safety of independent journalists.

The commission said Yameen’s government covered up his murder in the otherwise peaceful Indian Ocean archipelago known for its luxury tourism.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/09/02/missing-maldives-journalist-killed-by-islamic-radicals/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan won't start war or use nukes first against India, says Imran

Sep 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said his country would neither use nuclear weapons first nor initiate any military action against India in the wake of New Delhi's scrapping of special status to Jammu & Kashmir.

"We both are nuclear-armed countries. If these tensions increase, the world could be in danger," Khan said while addressing the first International Sikh convention, arranged at Governor House in Lahore. "There will be no first from our side ever," he added.

Denouncing the idea of war, Khan said: "I do not believe that war can solve any problem. Whoever thinks that it can is not sensible. He has not read world history. If you solve one problem by waging war, you create four more." "Everyone who has tried to solve problems by waging war has lost, even in victory. It takes years for a country to recover from the losses inflicted by war," he added.

Khan, however, said that he will continue to raise his voice for the residents of J&K. "No one who has any humanity left (in them) can tolerate the current situation in Kashmir. We can never accept that you place eight million people under lockdown for 27 days and cut off all communication. I would have raised my voice even if they (Kashmiris) were non-Muslims," he told the members of the Sikh community.

Khan reiterated that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was following a "totalitarian and racist ideology" that was against the teachings of any religion. "The direction in which RSS is taking India has no place for any minority. Whatever is happening with Muslims right now in India will not stop here. If they (the BJP government) are not stopped, they will come after the Dalits; they will one day come after the Sikhs," he said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-wont-start-war-or-use-nukes-first-against-india-says-imran/articleshow/70952612.cms

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Major embarrassment for police after custodial deaths in Punjab

September 03, 2019

LAHORE: The recent incidents of deaths in police custody have brought about embarrassment for the police high-ups when a suspect died in Rahim Yar Khan and another in Lahore.

The incidents occurred despite the fact that Inspector General of Punjab retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan had issued clear instructions to all the field officers that “no officer will be spared if such crime was reported in any part of the province”.

For the purpose, he had paid surprise visits to some police stations of Punjab.

Earlier, he had also given his policy guideline in this respect to all the regional police officers (RPOs), district police officers (DPOs), city police officers (CPOs) and the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO). However, despite all efforts, the incidents of torture of suspects in police custody continued to surface, bringing bad name to the department.

According to a handout issued on Monday, the IGP Punjab expressed his displeasure over the incident of custodial death of Salahuddin Ayubi in Rahim Yar Khan. He had got viral for his video recorded in an ATM machine before his arrest.

While addressing a video link conference at Central Police Office, Mr Khan directed the Bahawalpur RPO to conduct a detailed inquiry into the death of the suspect, ensuring strict departmental and legal action against the persons responsible. He said that in case of custodial death or torture, the circle officer would also be held accountable.

In Lahore, a middle-aged man, Amjad Ali, had breathed his last late on Sunday at a local hospital of Lahore due to alleged torture by the Gujjarpura police in an illegal torture cell unearthed some days back.

The torture cell was detected in a building of the forest department where nine suspects, including Amjad, were illegally kept by the police for ‘interrogation’. Most of them were brought there on the basis of allegations and the station house officer of Gujjarpura Police Station and his three other subordinates used to allegedly torture them. The footages later went viral on social media showing Amjad lying on a charpoy in critical condition after the police officials used third-degree torture which led to fracture of his backbone.

As per the video clips, Amjad revealed he couldn’t even move due to fracture he had suffered during the brutal torture by the police who had picked up him from his home. He also alleged that the raiding policemen had misbehaved with his family, took away cash and valuables from his home and locked him in the building of the forest department.

As the video reached the police high-ups, they ordered an inquiry which was carried out initially by a superintendent of police and then another senior police officer.

In both the inquiries, the SHO and other policemen were found guilty of charges leveled by all the nine people locked in the private torture cell. They later suspended from service. However, the issue again came to the limelight on Sunday night when Amjad died during his treatment at hospital.

The Lahore police high-ups claimed that he had died of a cardiac arrest. However, a murder case was lodged over the incident nominating three policemen for torture of Amjad that led to his death.

During the video link conference, IGP Khan said lock-up should be used for safe custody of the suspects and accused and it was the responsibility of police to provide them with good and timely medical care and in case of any laxity in this regard action would be taken against those responsible.

During the conference, Mr Arif Nawaz directed the senior police officers to specially inspect the lock-ups, record videos during their surprise visits to the police stations and in case of any violation of the SOP, take strict action without any delay.

He also issued instructions about the security arrangements regarding Muharram, saying that the DPOs should personally monitor the security arrangements of A category processions in sensitive districts of the province.

He said the snipers should also be deployed on the rooftops on the buildings in the vicinity of sensitive Majalis. He directed the officials to utilise the drone cameras for security of A category processions and their routes for 9th and 10th Muharram.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503156/major-embarrassment-for-police-after-custodial-deaths-in-punjab

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PML-N blasts govt over ‘record financial blunders’

September 03, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has asked the rulers to resign in the national interest, alleging that the government’s “record financial blunders” have pushed the country’s economy into the red zone, one step away from irreversible bankruptcy, which will result in total surrender of Pakistan’s sovereignty and its strategic assets.

Speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club here on Monday, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb and former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair alleged that instead of addressing this alarming disaster in waiting, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) was busy victimising political opponents through false corruption cases only to divert public attention.

Mr Iqbal pointed out that growth rate, fiscal deficit and inflation were key areas and the PTI had not only failed to sustains previous numbers but also caused record degradation in all three areas. He said it was unprecedented that any country’s growth rate plummeted over three per cent in a single year.

The PML-N leader said inflation had shot through the roof from 3pc to over 13pc which was catastrophic when coupled with low growth and fiscal deficit. He asked the PTI regime to either share a practicable rescue plan in parliament or step down to save the country.

Mr Zubair said he did not believe that the government had any economic plan at all, and, therefore, there was no point giving them any more time. He said that even after registering record fiscal deficit in a quarter, the prime minister and his cabinet members were celebrating which proved that they had no idea of how the economy worked.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the “incompetence, ineptness and cluelessness of the selected prime minister and his imposed regime” had brought the country to hell’s gates.

She regretted that despite “record borrowing, record development cuts, record inflation, record tax hikes and record rupee devaluation”, the regime could not achieve its own set targets which should be enough for a “shameful administration” to resign.

“The poor people of this country are buried under 200pc gas price hike, 35pc electricity tariff hike, rendering 1.5 million jobless and pushing 4.5m below the poverty line and yet the rich got Rs300 billion in tax and fines write-offs,” she said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503203/pml-n-blasts-govt-over-record-financial-blunders

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Court orders not being followed in Zardari case: lawyer

Mohammad Asghar

September 03, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Sardar Latif Khosa, former Punjab governor and counsel for PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari, on Monday regretted that despite court orders, the former president was not being provided facilities of air conditioner, fridge and personal attendant in jail.

Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari, Sardar Khosa, Shahbaz Khosa and Shazia Khosa met the former president in Adiala iail on Monday.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Sardar Khosa warned the government that if anything happened to Mr Zardari in prison, then the PPP would take action against the PTI government and punish it like never before.

Media Coordinator Nazir Dhoki accompanied him during the press conference.

Mr Khosa said that the life of Mr Zardari was in danger because he needed medical facilities but the government was denying him those.

“The government is not providing him an air conditioner, fridge and personal attendant despite the court order. This kind of treatment is not meted out even in dictatorship,” he said. He added that the situation was so grave that the assistant commissioners were saying that they were helpless and could not arrange a meeting of lawyers with the former president.

“Everyday the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) delivers a ‘love letter’ to the former president and asks for answers to a few questions but does not provide basic facilities which a patient requires and the court has clear orders in this regard,” Mr Khosa added. He said that Mr Zardari had been kept in NAB’s custody for 68 days and after that he was shifted to prison.

He said that Mr Zardari was a former president and a sitting Member of the National Assembly and had the right to have a fridge in his room for keeping medicine and a 24-hour attendant.

He said that a heart specialist had on record said that it might be dangerous if an AC was not provided to Mr Zardari and that a medical board of five doctors had advised to keep him in hospital for treatment but he was only brought in for a day.

Mr Khosa categorically denied media reports that Mr Zardari had agreed to return any money.

“That was a false and concocted news story. We do not have any ill-gotten money so the question does not arise,” said Mr Khosa. He added that political victimisation was apparent because there was no case whatsoever.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503207/court-orders-not-being-followed-in-zardari-case-lawyer

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Idols, artefacts found at Hindu temple in Karachi

Shazia Hasan

September 03, 2019

KARACHI: Recent construction work at the historic Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir in Soldier Bazaar has resulted in unearthing of several idols and other artefacts that may help in determining the origin of the temple said to be over 1,500 years old, it emerged on Monday.

The temple holds special significance for Hindus many of whom believe that Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir is the only shrine in the world with a naturally-created statue of the part human and part monkey Hindu god Hanuman. The legend associated with the place is that the Hindu Lord Ram had visited this temple while in exile. And sometime later a blue-and-white, eight-foot-tall statue of Hanuman was excavated from here. Following this the temple was built at the spot by devotees.

Devotees also hold the strong belief that if someone walked around the idol for 11 or 21 times his or her wishes come true as they say that such naturally-formed statues of deities possess exceptional blessing for worshippers.

Unfortunately, the recent past has seen squatters taking over most of Shri Panchmukhi Hanuman Mandir and its surroundings. “The squatters were both Hindu and Muslim, but after much hardship the gaddi nasheen or trustee of the temple has managed to take back possession,” Ravi Dawani, secretary general of the All Pakistan Hindu Panchayat, told Dawn.

He also said that although it is believed that the temple is very old, there is no hard evidence pointing towards this fact. “We can’t surely say that it is 500 years old or 1,500 years old or even older than that. But after the area had been cleared of squatters, the trust was busy in some expansion and construction of the temple when the idols and artefacts were discovered during digging,” he said.

“The freshly excavated artefacts can be tested for age in order to determine the true age of the temple,” he added.

Meanwhile, the temple’s trustee Shri Ram Nath Maharaj told Dawn that over the years, squatters had been building walls on temple land while making the temple smaller and smaller.

“Getting back its possession some three months ago, we had cleaned the place but with the weeklong Navaratri festival on our heads around the end of September we thought of rebuilding our Mandir. We only started the work on Saturday and so many idols have been unearthed,” he said.

“We found some on the first day of work, then a few more on Sunday and then even more on Monday,” he said.

“What is most surprising is that we didn’t have to dig too deep. We only dug two or three feet deep to find them,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503239/idols-artefacts-found-at-hindu-temple-in-karachi

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Pakistan to ease visa regime for Sikh pilgrims, says PM

September 03, 2019

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan will facilitate Sikh pilgrims from all over the world by easing the visa regime for them.

He said this while addressing International Sikh Convention at Punjab Governor’s House which was attended by Sikh delegates from the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.

PM Imran said that multiple visas will be granted to Sikh visitors and measures can be considered to grant them visa on airports.

The prime minister said all minorities are enjoying full basic rights in Pakistan and all possible facilities are being provided to them, including Sikh community and pilgrims.

“This is not a favour, this was our duty,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran said that he realised that Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib were as holy for Sikhs as Makkah and Madina were for Muslims, and promised to make access for Sikh pilgrims as easy as possible.

He also addressed the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan while reiterating that the latter will not initiate military action. He added, however, that he will continue to raise his voice for the residents of Indian-occupied Kashmir, who have been under a restrictive lockdown for the past 27 days.

The prime minister expressed his concerns over the situation in occupied Kashmir, saying: “No one who has any humanity left (in them) can tolerate the current situation in Kashmir. We can never accept that you place eight million people under lockdown for 27 days and cut off all communication. I would have raised my voice even if they [Kashmiris] were [non Muslims].”

Prime Minister Imran further said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — believed to be the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — was following a “totalitarian and racist ideology” that was not in accordance with the teachings of any religion.

“The direction in which RSS is taking India has no place for any [minority]. What is happening with Muslims right now in India […] it will not stop here. If they are not stopped, they will come after the Dalits; they will one day come after the Sikhs.”

The premier recalled for the attendees of the convention that his overtures for peace had been dismissed by the Indian government, and the latter had continued to put forward conditions before it would engage.

“[They acted] like a superpower does when telling a poor country to do this, do that. I was very surprised,” he said.

He denounced the idea of war, saying: “I do not believe that war can solve any problem. Whoever thinks that is not sensible, he has not read world history. If you solve one problem by waging war, four more spring up because of it.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/02/pakistan-will-facilitate-sikh-pilgrims-from-across-the-world-says-pm/

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Indian efforts to suppress Kashmir issue failing at every forum, says Qureshi

September 03, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Monday said that India, despite enormous efforts to suppress the occupied Kashmir dispute, is facing defeat at every forum over its abusive actions in the held valley.

Speaking to a private TV channel, Qureshi pointed out how India failed to convince the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs to leave out the occupied Kashmir crisis from the agenda.

The European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the alarming situation in Kashmir today during a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan will represent Pakistan on the occasion.

India could also not keep the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) silent on the Kashmir crisis, Qureshi said. “India failed to convince the world that Kashmir is its internal matter. She is being defeated at every forum,” he said.

Narendra Modi’s government is being likened to Germany’s Nazi regime, Qureshi noted.

He reiterated his call to the international community to play its role to stop the atrocities being perpetrated by Indian authorities in occupied Kashmir.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/02/indian-efforts-to-suppress-kashmir-crisis-meeting-defeat-at-every-forum-says-qureshi/

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Jadhav’s statement endorses Pakistan’s stance, India admits

September 03, 2019

ISLAMABAD: India on Monday admitted that convicted spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s statement to its senior diplomat during consular access supported Pakistan’s stand on the case, but claimed that the convicted spy was ‘under extreme pressure’.

“[Jadhav] appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims,” the Indian External Affairs Ministry said in a statement while referring to the convicted spy’s two-hour-long meeting with Charge d’ Affaires at the Indian High Commission Gaurav Ahluwalia in Islamabad on Monday.

The statement comes hours after Pakistan formally granted the consular access to the convicted spy in line with Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, ICJ verdict and the laws of Pakistan.

Ahluwalia met Jadhav at an undisclosed venue due to sensitivity attached to the matter.

“While we await a comprehensive report, it was clear that Shri Jadhav appeared to be under extreme pressure to parrot a false narrative to bolster Pakistan’s untenable claims,” said a statement issued by India’s External Affairs Ministry. “We will decide a further course of action after receiving a detailed report from our Cd’A and determining the extent of conformity to the ICJ directives,” it added.

According to the statement, External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also spoke to Jadhav’s mother and briefed her of Monday’s developments.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office, on the other hand, maintained that there was no restriction on the language of communication during the meeting on India’s request. “In order to ensure transparency and in line with standard operating procedures, and as conveyed to the Indian side in advance, the access was recorded,” it added.

“As a responsible member of the international community and in line with our international commitments, Pakistan has provided unimpeded and uninterrupted consular access to Commander Jadhav.”

Before meeting Jadhav, Ahluwalia told AFP that New Delhi hoped “Pakistan will ensure right atmosphere so that the meeting is free, fair, meaningful and effective in keeping with the letter and spirit of the ICJ orders”.

On Sunday, Pakistan said it would grant consular access to Jadhav, weeks after the ICJ urged Pakistan to undertake “effective review” of the case, adding that a “continued stay of execution” was needed for that to happen.

“Consular access for Indian spy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian naval officer and RAW operative, is being provided on Monday 2 September 2019,” Foreign Office Spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said in a tweet late Sunday.

“Commander Jadhav remains in Pakistan’s custody, for espionage, terrorism, and sabotage,” he said in another tweet.

Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, in a counter-intelligence operation in Balochistan. A military court awarded him death sentence on April 10, 2017, following his confession that he had mounted operations for RAW to conduct terrorist activities on Pakistani soil.

In June 2017, the Indian spy filed a mercy petition against death penalty, in which he again confessed to his involvement in terrorist activities.

However, before Pakistani authorities could make a final decision, the ICJ, after being approached by India, ordered a stay in his execution through an interim order.

In its final verdict announced on July 17, the ICJ asked Pakistan to provide consular access to Jadhav under the Vienna Convention.

However, the Hague-based ICJ had rejected India’s request for acquittal, release and return of Commander Jadhav.

Following the verdict, the FO had announced that that as a responsible state, Pakistan would grant consular access to Jadhav according to the country’s laws, for which modalities were being worked out.

It said that pursuant to the ICJ judgement, Jadhav had been informed of his rights under Article 36, Paragraph 1(b) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

In its verdict that followed proceedings lasting about two years, the UN’s top court did not accept India’s contention that Jadhav was entitled to ‘restitutio in integrum’ (restoration to original position) and turned down its request to annul the decision of the Pakistani military court.

Instead, it ruled that Pakistan by means of its own choosing could undergo an effective review and reconsideration of the sentence awarded to Jadhav.

The ICJ said that even though it had found Pakistan in violation of Article 36 the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR), “it is not the conviction and sentence of Jadhav which are to be regarded as a violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention.”

The most the ICJ said it could do was to order Pakistan to cease violation of Article 36 and review the case in light of how that violation might have affected the case’s outcome.

“The court notes that Pakistan acknowledges that the appropriate remedy in the present case would be effective review and reconsideration of the conviction and sentence,” it observed.

To this end, Pakistan was directed to immediately inform Jadhav of his rights under Article 36, grant India consular access, and then review the case while considering, under the laws of Pakistan, how not doing so earlier might have impacted the case’s outcome.

“The Court notes that the obligation to provide effective review and reconsideration can be carried out in various ways. The choice of means is left to Pakistan,” the ICJ added. However, it stressed that “Pakistan shall take all measures to provide for effective review and reconsideration, including, if necessary, by enacting appropriate legislation.”

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/09/02/india-accepts-pakistan-offer-of-consular-access-to-spy-kulbhushan-jadhav-report/

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Mideast

 

Israel's act of aggression against Lebanon threatens global security: Iran

Sep 2, 2019

Iran has strongly condemned the Israeli regime's recent act of aggression against Lebanon, saying it constitutes a threat to global peace and security.

"The Israeli regime's act of aggression against Lebanon is a blatant violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent country, which is a member of the United Nations, and constitutes a move against international peace and security," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Monday.

Noting that Israel's aggression against Lebanon violates the principles of international law, the Iranian official added, "As a result of the international community’s meaningful silence and lavish US support, the bankrupt Israeli regime is trying to undermine the Lebanese people’s honorable resistance.”

The Iranian diplomat said now that Lebanon has a powerful president, government and army and seeks to protect its territorial integrity and independence in the face of Zionists' aggression, Israel is trying to undermine the resistance of the Lebanese people.

Mousavi urged the international community, particularly the United Nations, not to remain silent over the Tel Aviv regime's acts of aggression, which have fueled instability and insecurity in the region and the entire world.

Israeli artillery units struck the southern part of Lebanon Sunday afternoon shortly after an Israeli drone violated the Lebanese airspace, and dropped incendiary material that sparked a fire in a forest at the border.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency reported that Israeli forces launched several 155-millimeter shells on Jabal al-Rous area in occupied Shebaa Farms and Kfarshouba Hills.

After Israel's aggression, the Hezbollah resistance movement targeted an Israeli military vehicle near the border with the occupied Palestinian territories, killing or injuring all forces on board.

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani on Sunday defended Hezbollah’s action, saying protecting the interests of the Lebanese people is the main approach followed by the resistance movement, adding that the movement enjoys significant popular support in the country.

"Protecting the Lebanese people's interests and taking action based on those interests is the main approach followed by Hezbollah in making political and defense decisions," Shamkhani said.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605130/Abbas-Moussavi-Lebanon-Israel-aggression-spokesman

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Hezbollah chief says all Israeli forces at risk in case of new attack on Lebanon

Sep 2, 2019

The leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement has warned Israel against any future attacks on Lebanon saying that in case of such attack all Israeli forces will be at risk.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks in a televised speech on Monday, saying that Sunday’s operation by Hezbollah fighters in which an armored Israeli vehicle was hit, was meant to send the message to Israel that “if you attack, then all your border and forces will be at risk.”

Hezbollah’s Sunday attack came in response to an Israeli air raid last week that killed two of its fighters in Syria, as well as an Israeli drone attack on southern Beirut, which saw the deployed aircraft crashing into the movement’s media offices.

According to the Lebanese resistance movement, the missiles launched from Lebanon destroyed an armored personnel carrier in Avivim, killing or wounding those inside it. The Israeli military, however, alleged the attack did not lead to any casualties while adding that it had fired 100 shells into Lebanon in return.

“We thank god [for this victory],” he said, and also expressed gratitude towards the group’s fighters and commanders, who spent eight consecutive days carrying out the operation.

Nasrallah added that the through the latest operation against the Israeli forces, the resistance group broke the "biggest red line" by targeting forces across the border and inside the occupied territories.

Further explaining the difference between the Sunday response and Hezbollah’s previous countermeasures against Israel, Nasrallah said the movement would previously only target Israelis inside the Shebaa Farms, which the regime has occupied from Lebanon since 1948.

The movement resorted to the reaction as it “does not want to squander the triumph it achieved [against Israel] during the 33-Day War,” Nasrallah said. He was pointing to a wholesale war the regime launched against Lebanon in 2006, after which it was forced to withdraw under pressure from Hezbollah’s surprising defensive maneuverability.

“[From now on,] mark September 1, 2019 (the date of the retaliation) as it coincides with the onset of a new stage in [our] support for Lebanon’s borders,” Nasrallah told Tel Aviv.

As a result of Hezbollah’s response, Israel has taken all of its forces and military vehicles away from Lebanon’s border, and stopped patrolling near the frontier. “The Zionists have deserted our frontlines, meaning they have beaten a retreat,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, the Arabic-language al-Manar satellite television station affiliated with the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement aired new footage of a recent attack on Israeli positions in the occupied territories.

The footage showed Hezbollah fighters firing two missiles at the Israeli military vehicle, sending it up in flames and apparently fully destroying it.

Nasrallah underlined that the operation came despite ongoing Tel Aviv threats, asserting that the warnings scare neither the movement, nor the Lebanese authorities.

‘Netanyahu’s folly’

“Israelis should know this that what happened was a result of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s folly,” Nasrallah stated.

Observers say the Israeli drone incursions into Lebanon, which coincided with the regime’s similar acts of aggression against Iraq and Syria, were a stunt ordered by Netanyahu to provoke retaliation from the targeted countries, thus upping the Israeli premier’s chances of victory in the upcoming elections by portraying Israel in a vulnerable light.

The Hezbollah chief also repeated his earlier warning that the group would be targeting Israeli drones potentially transgressing into the country’s airspace.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605167/Israeli-forces-risk-attack-lebanon-Nasrallah

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Iran warns EU of reviewing commitments to N-deal

September 03, 2019

DUBAI: Iran said on Monday it would further reduce its commitments under a 2015 nuclear deal if European parties failed to shield Tehran’s economy from sanctions reimposed by the United States after Washington quit the accord last year.

“It is meaningless to continue unilateral commitments to the deal if we don’t enjoy its benefits as promised by the deal’s European parties,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart in Moscow.

Iran has said it will breach the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities one by one, ratcheting up pressure on the countries who still hope to save it. Tehran has threatened to take further steps by Sept 6, such as enriching uranium to 20 percent or restarting mothballed centrifuges, machines that purify uranium for use as fuel in power plants or, if very highly enriched, in weapons.

Tehran is prepared to take a “stronger step” in reducing its commitments under the deal with world powers if European countries don’t take action to save the pact, its foreign ministry’s spokesman said on Monday.

“The third step has been designed and will be stronger than the first and second steps to create balance between Iran’s rights and commitments to the JCPOA,” state news agency IRNA quoted the foreign ministry’s spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying on Monday. However, Iran had earlier stressed that these steps are “reversible” if the European signatories of the pact fulfilled their obligations.

President Donald Trump last year exited the accord between Iran and six world powers aimed at curbing Tehrans nuclear programme, which the West suspected sought to make a nuclear weapon, in exchange for the lifting of many international sanctions on Tehran. Washington has also reimposed sanctions on exports of Iranian oil. Iran denies ever having sought a nuclear weapon.

Also, Iran’s government spokesman said on Monday that Iran and France’s views on the deal have moved closer, mainly after phone calls between President Hassan Rouhani and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503201/iran-warns-eu-of-reviewing-commitments-to-n-deal

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Rouhani says Iran’s answer to US talks will ‘always be negative’

3 September 2019

Iran’s answer to bilateral talks with the US will “always be negative,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday, adding that Iran may further cut nuclear commitments in days.

“No decision has ever been taken to hold talks with the US and there has been a lot of offers for talks but our answer will always be negative,” Rouhani told an open session of parliament carried live by state radio.

Rouhani also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to a landmark 2015 nuclear deal "in the coming days" if current negotiations yield no results by Thursday.

US President Donald Trump, although applying “maximum pressure” on Iran, has offered to meet its leaders and hold bilateral talks with no pre-conditions to end the confrontation between their countries.

Rouhani added that European nations are failing to implement their commitments following the US pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. He said that the Europeans “did not carry out their task.”

Last month, Rouhani said Iran would not talk to its longtime foe until the United States lifted all of the sanctions it reimposed after it exited a 2015 nuclear deal last year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/03/Rouhani-says-Iran-s-answer-to-US-talks-will-always-be-negative-.html

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Erdogan’s AKP to expel ex-premier from party: Report

3 September 2019

The executive committee of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party on Monday unanimously agreed to send former premier and party member Ahmet Davutoglu to a disciplinary board for dismissal, local media reported.

The decision came after a nearly five-hour meeting of the central executive committee of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) chaired by Erdogan, the Hurriyet newspaper reported on its website.

A leading AKP figure who served both as foreign minister and prime minister, Davutoglu has recently accused the party of deviating from its core principles.

His criticism included the party’s insistence on a rerun of the Istanbul vote after the AKP lost the city to the opposition in March local elections, as well as the removal of three mayors in eastern Turkey on terror-related claims.

The party’s move to expel the ex-premier comes as other former allies have fallen out with Erdogan including former president Abdullah Gul and former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan - both founding AKP members.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/03/Erdogan-s-AKP-to-expel-ex-premier-from-party-Report.html

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Israel lifts Gaza fuel restriction after calm returns

2 September 2019

Israel has lifted a restriction on fuel delivered to Gaza for electricity, a defense official said on Monday, a week after cutting the flow by half over a series of violent incidents.

Israeli defense ministry unit COGAT announced on August 26 it was halving the amount of fuel allowed into Gaza from its territory, after three rockets were fired at the Jewish state the day before.

Israel responded with air strikes against the Gaza Strip’s ruling Hamas movement.

A series of other violent incidents in August preceded that.

A further round occurred on August 27, when Gaza militants fired a mortar round across the border and an Israeli aircraft struck a Hamas post in northern Gaza in response.

There have not been projectile launches from Gaza since.

A defense official told AFP that the fuel restriction had been removed on Sunday.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008 and fears of a fourth remain.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/02/Israel-lifts-Gaza-fuel-restriction-after-calm-returns.html

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Arab Coalition: Saudi-UAE committee working to de-escalate in Yemen

2 September 2019

The Saudi-UAE committee has worked to de-escalate the situation in multiple Yemeni regions, the Arab Coalition’s spokesperson Turki al-Maliki said on Monday.

In a press conference, al-Maliki added that  Saudi forces have arrived in the Shabwah governorate and are working with the Yemeni government to de-escalate the situation. All Yemeni parties have responded to the call for de-escalation, he added.

He also showed videos of air strikes targeting Houthi sites and presented statistics regarding the coalition's intercepting and downing of Houthi drones.

Houthi militias have been transporting ballistic missiles and drones to the city of Dhamar in south-western Yemen, said al-Maliki. These drone depots were the targets of the recent Saudi air raids on the city, which were carried out in accordance with international law, he added.

On Thursday, The UN Security Council condemned “in the strongest terms” the escalation of Houthi attacks on civilian infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and called on the militias “to cease such attacks immediately and without preconditions.” Also on Thursday the Arab Coalition intercepted and destroyed a Houthi drone launched from Yemen’s Saada toward Saudi Arabia, according to al-Maliki.

The previous day the Arab Coalition confirmed that a cruise missile launched by the Houthis landed at Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport with no injuries reported.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/02/Arab-Coalition-Saudi-UAE-committee-working-to-de-escalate-in-Yemen-.html

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Iran, Syria to develop banking ties, set up joint bank: Report

Sep 2, 2019

Iran and Syria have vowed to expedite efforts for establishing a joint bank that could help the two allied countries deepen their trade and economic relations.

A report on the website of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) on Monday showed that the two countries were intent on removing last hurdles to set up The Joint Iran-Syria Bank to accelerate financial transactions.

The report, which came out of a meeting between CBI Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati and his Syrian counterpart Hazem Karfoul in Tehran, said the two sides had agreed to execute banking agreements reached between the two in the recent past.

“Iran-Syria economic relations have entered a new phase and recent banking deals are an important message for companies and a serious step for expansion of exchanges between trades and businesses of the two countries,” said Hemmati during the meeting.

The CBI chief also demanded the Syrian government to remove the last remaining obstacles in the way to set up the joint bank as required by a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries.

The report said Iran and Syria had already agreed on joint mechanisms that could bolster economic exchanges between the two, including the use of local currencies in bilateral trade, injecting more credit to schemes jointly run by banks of the two and launching a system that could enable citizens of the two countries to use special payment cards during visits.

Hemmati said during the meeting that Iran was ready to further help Syria banking sector develop after years of war in the country that has affected its financial services and their relation with the rest of the world.

He said Iran would specifically provide Syria with services in banking technologies related to currency printing and electronic payment systems.

The Syrian chief banker, for his part, said during the meeting that Iran could be of great help to Syria in rebuilding its banking system after the war.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605150/Iran-Syria-joint-bank-plan-Hemmati-Karfoul

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Israel plots to create rift among Palestinians: Haniyeh

Sep 2, 2019

A senior leader of the resistance movement Hamas has warned that the Israeli regime plots to create rift and division among Palestinian people and groups in the wake of recent blasts in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas Political Bureau, made the remarks on Monday as he was commenting on bomb attacks that killed three police officers in the coastal enclave last week.

Haniyeh accused Israel of being behind the blasts in the besieged territory and said there was no room for extremism in Palestine.

He further noted that the Tel Aviv regime was seeking rift among Palestinians and Palestinian resistance groups to distract them from their main priorities.

The senior Palestinian official said Israel was after gaining benefits from insecurity in Gaza in order to thrive in the upcoming elections.

Palestinians have held weekly rallies along the Gaza border to protest the siege on the enclave and demand the right for refugees to return to their homes they were forced to leave during the 1948 creation of Israel.

More than 270 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in Gaza on March 30, 2018. Over 16,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, 2018, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided with a US decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

On June 13, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, which condemned Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza.

The resolution, which had been put forward on behalf of Arab and Muslim countries, garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with eight votes against and 45 abstentions.

The resolution called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to make proposals within 60 days “on ways and means for ensuring the safety, protection, and well-being of the Palestinian civilian population under Israeli occupation,” including “recommendations regarding an international protection mechanism.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605158/Palestinian-Hamas-Gaza-Strip-Ismail-Haniyeh

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ICC judges order prosecutor to reopen case of Israel raid on Gaza flotilla

Sep 2, 2019

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered its chief prosecutor to reopen an official probe into a 2010 Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish activists on board.

Appeals judges in The Hague-based tribunal ordered Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda for a second time on Monday to reconsider her refusal to open a formal investigation into the deadly raid.

"The prosecutor is directed to reconsider her decision by December 2, 2019," presiding appeals Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa told the court, adding that a majority of judges had backed the move.

The Monday ruling by the ICC’s appeals chamber was the latest step in a long legal battle to bring the case before the court.

Bensouda said in 2014 that she would not prosecute Israel over the incident, claiming that the case was "not of sufficient gravity."

The chief prosecutor again affirmed the decision in 2017 after judges said she must take another look at the case.

Israel is not a member of the court but Israeli individuals could face charges if Bensouda opens an investigation.

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea, killing nine Turkish citizens, including a teenager with dual Turkish-US citizenship, on board the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara and injuring about 50 other people who were part of the team on the six-ship convoy.

The flotilla was attempting to break the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, carrying aid to Palestinians in the enclave.

Israel’s military raid against the civilian flotilla was met with global condemnation at the time, with the United Nations Security Council calling for a prompt investigation into the incident and the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the attack as “outrageous.”

A large number of human rights groups also slammed the raid, while dozens of protests were held in support of the victims’ cause in several countries, including Turkey, Indonesia, Lebanon, and Sweden.

In September 2010, Turkey suspended its military ties with Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy from Ankara over Tel Aviv’s refusal to apologize for the killing.

Back in 2014, a criminal court in Turkey issued arrest warrants for four Israeli military officers, deemed by Ankara as the main culprits in the case, and turned over the warrants to Interpol to arrest the suspects, but to no avail.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605138/icc-Gaza-flotilla-probe

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Africa

 

Top security official, three gunmen dead following gunfire exchange in Tunisia

2 September 2019

The head of Tunisia’s National Guard Center and three gunmen died following an exchange of gunfire in the Tunisian municipality of Haidra, near the border with Algeria, local media reported on Monday.

Local media cited security sources as saying that “Haidra is witnessing a gunfire exchange between united of the National Guard and terrorist elements.”

The clash occurred on the first day of the country's presidential campaign, authorities said.

National guard officers and army troops were tracking a radical group in the Kef mountains near the Algerian border when shooting broke out, killing the four, national guard spokesman Housameddine Jbabli told The Associated Press.

The security operation is ongoing near the town of Haidra in the Kasserine region, he said.

Tunisian security forces have stepped up land and air operations against extremists hiding in the hard-to-reach mountainous region, where dozens have been killed in clashes in recent years.

Monday's clash came on the day Tunisia's presidential campaign is officially opening, after the country's first democratically elected president died in office in July. A total of 26 candidates are running to lead the country, which unleashed the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011.

Tunisia's post-revolution leaders have struggled to contain extremism in recent years, notably along its borders with Algeria and Libya.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/09/02/Top-security-official-three-gunmen-dead-following-gunfire-exchange-in-Tunisia.html

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Presidential campaign opens in Tunisia after Essebsi death

Sep 2, 2019

Campaigning for Tunisia's presidential election has opened, with 26 candidates vying to replace late leader Beji Caid Essebsi.

Seven million Tunisians are expected to head to the ballot box in the September 15 poll, which was brought forward from November following Essebsi's death in July.

Essebsi,Tunisia's first democratically-elected president, took office in the wake of the 2011 uprising that overthrew former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked revolts across the Arab world.

The North African country has faced economic woes and repeated militant attacks -- including a gun battle in the northwest on Monday that killed a national guard officer and three suspected militants.

"Terrorists are still around but Tunisia is stronger," said Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, among those vying for the presidency.

The vote comes with Tunisia's political class divided by internal conflicts, including a struggle between Chahed and Essebsi's son, leading the premier to quit the ruling Nidaa Tounes party and form Tahia Tounes.

The latter has since become the second largest party in parliament, behind the extremist-inspired Ennahdha party.

Aged 43, Chahed is Tunisia's youngest prime minister, but since he took office his popularity has been hit by instability, inflation and unemployment.

Other candidates include interim parliamentary speaker Abdelfattah Mourou, of Ennahdha, and former defense minister Abdelkrim Zbidi.

Another powerful opponent could be media magnate Nabil Karoui, who despite his arrest on August 23 for alleged money laundering is still legally allowed to run.

That makes for a vote markedly different from the 2014 election which had just two frontrunners -- Essebsi and former president Moncef Marzouki.

"It is the first time that Tunisians have no idea who will become their president," said the Tunis-based Joussour think-tank. "Now everything is possible."

Karoui controversy

Chahed launched his overseas campaign Saturday in the French city of Lyon, casting himself as a human rights defender.

Some 1.2 million Tunisians live overseas, mainly in Europe.

"We hope to speak with Tunisians to explain to them... our vision for a stronger Tunisia, a more modern and developed Tunisia, and a Tunisia that truly believes in the universal values of human rights," he told AFP ahead of a campaign meeting.

He also denied accusations from Karoui backers that he had masterminded the arrest of the controversial media magnate.

Karoui, who recently set up a political party, Heart of Tunisia, has said he was targeted by "attempts to undermine his growing popularity."

In recent years, Karoui used his popular Nessma TV, which is now banned from covering the election, to launch high-profile charity campaigns.

Chahed's government tried to eliminate Karoui from the race, passing an amended electoral code through parliament -- but it was not ratified by Essebsi before his death.

Tunisia's electoral commission, which on Saturday approved the final list of 26 hopefuls, has banned the publication of opinion polls, making it difficult for pundits to evaluate each candidate's strength.

'Power cannot be shared'

Zbidi told AFP in an interview that if he were elected, he was determined to "restart the social ladder" and make public services "accessible" for all Tunisians.

The former defense minister, who presents himself as an independent technocrat, said he would like constitutional changes to give the head of state more powers.

"Power cannot be shared," he said.

But he called for a referendum to choose a "parliamentary regime or a presidential one."

Ennahdha's candidate Mourou is a founding member of the extremist party and the first presidential candidate it has ever fielded.

Political analyst Hamza Meddeb said he believed Mourou would make it to the second round of voting expected to be held in the first week of November.

"The big unknown is who will be his rival," Karoui, Chahed or Zbidi, he said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605159/Tunisia-presidential-election-Beji-Caid-Essebsi-militants

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At least 3 killed, 4 injured in Somalia suicide bombing

Mohammed Dhaysane 

02.09.2019

A suicide car bomb blast targeted a security check point in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu Monday, leaving at least three people dead, four others wounded, officials said.

“The attack was a suicide bomb explosion which targeted our security checkpoint in ex-control Afgoye in Mogadishu. At least three people including police officials and one attacker were killed, and four others wounded”, Adan Yare Hassan, a police officer in Mogadishu, told Anadolu Agency via phone.

He added that the attackers attempted to overrun the checkpoint but security officials opened fire, killing an attacker.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/at-least-3-killed-4-injured-in-somalia-suicide-bombing/1570935

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Security officer, 3 militants killed in Tunisia clashes

Hatem Al-Salhi 

02.09.2019

TUNIS

A Tunisian national guard chief and three militants were killed in an exchange of fire near the Algerian border on Monday, according to a local security source.

The shootout took place in a remote area near the town of Hidra in the Kasserine province, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The source declined to give further details as the operation against the militants was still ongoing.

Monday's violence came on the first day of campaigning for Tunisia's presidential election slated for Sept. 15.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/security-officer-3-militants-killed-in-tunisia-clashes/1570926

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Nigeria: Residents Flee As Boko Haram Attacks Chibok Again

1 SEPTEMBER 2019

Residents of Yimirmigza village in Kautikari ward, Chibok local government area of Borno, took to their heels after suspected Boko Haram insurgents laid siege on their village.

A Chibok resident told TheCable on Saturday that they started hearing strange gunshots around 6pm.

The villager said they fled when they noticed that the gunshots were not the routine military gunshots.

"They came in this evening and started shooting sporadically. Most of the villagers have run into the bush," the source said.

"We don't know if there are casualty yet because right now the insurgents are still in charge of the village."

TheCable also gathered that security operatives from the 117 Task Force Battalion of the Nigerian army have been mobilised to stop the insurgents.

Yimirmigza village is 19 kilometres away from Chibok town which is the local government headquarters.

As at the time of filing this report, efforts to reach Sagir Musa, acting director of the army's public relations, was abortive.

Chibok lies close to Boko Haram's Sambisa forest enclave from where the jihadists launch attacks on nearby villages.

Boko Haram's nine-year conflict has killed an estimated 35,000 people and displaced two million, creating a humanitarian crisis and spilling into Nigeria's northern neighbours.

In recent years, Boko Haram militants have increasingly attacked civilian targets in the region. Chibok, in particular, has been under attacks since 2014.

In April 2014, for instance, the Chibok ambush was an attack of Boko Haram insurgents against a Nigerian Army convoy in the night as the latter was searching for schoolgirls who had been kidnapped by the Islamist rebels.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201909020491.html

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Arab World

 

Lebanon rescue talks follow lull in fighting

NAJIA HOUSSARI

September 03, 2019

BEIRUT: Top-level talks on an economic rescue plan for Lebanon began Monday after the UN stepped in to help bring an end to military clashes along the country’s border with Israel.

An uneasy calm returned to both sides of the border following an exchange of fire between Hezbollah and Israeli military forces near the town of Maroun Al-Ras in southern Lebanon.

Clashes between Israel and Hezbollah intensified along the border after a week of rising tensions.

Israel’s military said it fired into southern Lebanon on Sunday after anti-tank missiles launched by Hezbollah targeted its army base and vehicles near the border. Hezbollah said that it was responding to an earlier drone attack by Israel.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission, Maj. Gen. Stefano del Cole, said late on Sunday that he contacted both parties to call for an end to the fighting.

“This resulted in a restoration of general calm in the area of operations. Both parties assured me of their commitment to continue the cessation of hostilities in accordance with UN Resolution 1701,” he said.

Political leaders joined banking, finance and business chiefs at the top-level meeting on Lebanon’s economic future held at the presidential palace and chaired by President Michel Aoun.

“All of us are aware of the sensitivity of the economic and financial conditions we are experiencing. We are looking for effective solutions that will promote stability in order to avoid the worst,” the Lebanese leader said during the session.

“The circumstances require all of us to transcend our political or personal differences, and not to turn differences of opinion into conflict at the expense of the supreme interest of the nation. We must unite our efforts to come up with effective solutions to the economic crisis that is stifling the dreams and hopes of our people.”

Fixing the price of fuel, raising the tax on bank interest to 11 percent and increasing value-added tax are among reforms being considered.

Economist Louis Hobeika said that Lebanon’s 2019 budget had reduced the country’s fiscal deficit by 7.6 percent, but a greater reduction is required in 2020, “which means dealing with and fighting corruption.”

“I do not expect the meeting to make advanced decisions, because those attending are not serious about reducing spending or stopping mismanagement. I have warned against finding a way out by increasing taxes on citizens. People do not mind the increase, but only in exchange for serious reforms, not continuous corruption,” he said.

Hobeika said that the response of assembled officials to pleas regarding corruption did little to encourage optimism.

“It would have been better to have a unified paper by neutral economists adopted after discussion with politicians and even by public opinion. What is happening does not inspire confidence,”

he said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548866/middle-east

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Syrian MP Discloses Erdogan's Abundant Compromises on Idlib in Russia Visit

Sep 02, 2019

Safwan al-Qorbi, the representative of Idlib province in the Syrian parliament, told the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper on Monday that Erdogan is in a bottleneck politically on the situation of Idlib province.

He underlined Russia's role in harnessing Turkey's uncontrollable performance in Idlib, and said the Turkish convoys were attacked in the countryside of Idlib and the residents of these regions blame the terrorist groups and Ankara for their dire conditions.

Al-Qorbi referred to Erdogan's recent visit to Moscow, and said, "Certainly, the Turkish president has made big compromises and it was a hasty meeting to decrease the fire of the Syrian army attacks. They thought that taking back certain regions in Idlib needs one month in practice but the Syrian army liberated it within days."

Hence, Turkey came to develop the panic that if it doesn't make major compromises, Idlib would soon be captured altogether by the Syrian army, he added.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that Ankara had promised Moscow to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorist group in Northern Syria to return to the earlier-agreed Sochi agreement.

al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the National Liberation Front and Tahrir al-Sham as saying that Erdogan has in a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin vowed to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham and other affiliated terrorist groups, including Horras al-Din and Ansar al-Touhid, within 8 days.

They said that the ceasefire declared by the Syrian army on Saturday was also in line with the agreement, adding that one of the conditions demanded by Syria was its army's control over a vast area of Hama-Idlib international road.

The sources underlined possible opposition of Tahrir al-Sham to Turkey's agreement with Russia, saying that based on the agreement, in case of Ankara's inability to implement its promises, the Russian and Syrian armies will resume their military operations towards the towns of Ma'arat al-No'eman and Saraqib on Hama-Idlib international road.

The Syrian Army on Saturday agreed to ceasefire in the demilitarized zone of Idlib after making massive advances in the Southern part of the province.

The Arabic-language SANA news agency quoted a battlefield source as saying that the Syrian Army has declared implementation of truce in the demilitarized zone while reiterating that it will respond to any violation of ceasefire by the terrorists.

After taking full control of al-Tamane’ah strategic town, the Syrian Army continued its advances in Southern Idlib and regained control of the towns of al-Khovein al-Kabir, al-Sakiat, Eastern and Western Farms of al-Tamane’ah, Tal Turki, Tal Sayyed Jafar and strategic Sayyed Ali Hilltop just one kilometer to the North of al-Tamane’ah that overlooks al-Azizieh-Tahtaya Road.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980611000894

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Al-Jolani Collaborating with Washington to Prevent Dissolution of Tahrir Al-Sham

Sep 02, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham as saying on Monday that the recent US airstrikes against the terrorists' command centers between the towns of Kafraya and Ma'arat Misrin in Northern Idlib were carried out through the intel provided by al-Jolani to the US.

They added that he has given the Americans a list of the bases and weapons and equipment caches of Tahrir al-Sham and other affiliated groups, including Ansar al-Touhid and Horras al-Din which had under Turkey's pressure declared their defection from Tahrir al-Sham.

The sources said that Washington's military intervention in Idlib after the ceasefire was declared and after the Russian-Turkish meeting in Moscow is aimed at making ineffective Ankara's efforts under the Sochi agreement.

Relevant reports said on Sunday that Ankara had promised Moscow to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at terrorist group in Northern Syria to return to the earlier-agreed Sochi agreement.

al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the National Liberation Front and Tahrir al-Sham as saying that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has in a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin vowed to dissolve Tahrir al-Sham and other affiliated terrorist groups, including Horras al-Din and Ansar al-Touhid, within 8 days.

They said that the ceasefire declared by the Syrian army on Saturday was also in line with the agreement, adding that one of the conditions demanded by Syria was its army's control over a vast area of Hama-Idlib international road.

The sources underlined possible opposition of Tahrir al-Sham to Turkey's agreement with Russia, saying that based on the agreement, in case of Ankara's inability to implement its promises, the Russian and Syrian armies will resume their military operations towards the towns of Ma'arat al-No'eman and Saraqib on Hama-Idlib international road.

The Syrian Army on Saturday agreed to ceasefire in the demilitarized zone of Idlib after making massive advances in the Southern part of the province.

The Arabic-language SANA news agency quoted a battlefield source as saying that the Syrian Army has declared implementation of truce in the demilitarized zone while reiterating that it will respond to any violation of ceasefire by the terrorists.

After taking full control of al-Tamane’ah strategic town, the Syrian Army continued its advances in Southern Idlib and regained control of the towns of al-Khovein al-Kabir, al-Sakiat, Eastern and Western Farms of al-Tamane’ah, Tal Turki, Tal Sayyed Jafar and strategic Sayyed Ali Hilltop just one kilometer to the North of al-Tamane’ah that overlooks al-Azizieh-Tahtaya Road.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980611000515

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UN criticizes transfer of 1,600 displaced Iraqis

2 September 2019

The United Nations on Monday criticized Iraqi authorities for transferring around 1,600 people from camps to their areas of origin, saying the returns could put them in danger.

The returnees, who fled violence during and after ISIS group’s 2014 seizure of swathes of Iraq, had sought refuge at displacement camps in the northern province of Nineweh.

Since August 23, Iraqi authorities have bussed about 300 families, an estimated 1,600 people, from the three camps to their provinces of origin.

The transfers took place despite humanitarian groups’ concerns that the families had no homes or access to services and may be targeted by their home communities for perceived links to ISIS, a terrorist group.

The UN said Monday returnees had “expressed fears that they would be threatened upon their return, and had reportedly received threatening phone calls from community members in their areas of origin warning against return.”

“Despite such concerns, security actors confiscated the (displaced people’s) civil identification, informing the families that their documents would only be returned once they boarded the convoy,” it said in a statement.

More than 1.6 million people remain displaced in camps, unfinished structures or rented apartments across Iraq, nearly two years after the country declared victory over ISIS.

The government has stressed its policy is for all those displaced to return home and for camps to be shut.

Last week, AFP journalists witnessed transfers from the Hammam al-Alil camp in Nineweh province of hundreds of Iraqis originally from Kirkuk, further south.

Women and children, some of them crying, were loaded onto buses by security forces. Some said they did not know where they were being taken.

The transfers often happened “with little notice or apparent planning,” the UN’s Iraq humanitarian coordinator, Marta Ruedas, said on Monday.

“I am concerned about the lack of organization and advanced communication with affected communities and humanitarian partners,” she said.

In some cases, the UN said, security forces denied families entry to camps in their home provinces, displacing them a second time.

In the worst case of violence against returnees so far, three hand grenades were thrown into the Basateen camp in Iraq’s Salahaddin governorate on Sunday, a day after the arrival of 150 displaced families from Nineweh.

“The grenades caused no damage, injuries or casualties (but) are a cause of great concern for the safety of the camp residents,” the UN said.

Other rights groups have already sounded the alarm, including Amnesty International, which has called the returns “premature” and urged Iraqi authorities to halt them immediately.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/09/02/UN-criticizes-transfer-of-1-600-displaced-Iraqis.html

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Civilian deliberately targeted in Saudi ‘double-tap’ airstrikes in Yemen: Report

Sep 2, 2019

Saudi Arabia may have used “double-tap” airstrikes in Yemen, a tactic that sharply increases the number of civilian casualties and endangers rescuers who rush to help the victims of the first air raid, a new report has warned, after Riyadh’s latest attack on a Yemeni prison claimed more than 100 lives.

The report by Bellingcat, an investigative journalism site, is to be released on Monday. The tactic sees missiles fired once, then again when aid workers have rushed to the injured, the British daily The Independent said.

Evidence gathered by Bellingcat researchers and seen by the paper shows civilian targets, including a funeral hall, markets, a restaurant, a mosque and a residential area, in Yemen were hit by double-tap air raids.

“The attacks on these locations appeared to kill and injure far more civilians than was proportionate to any likely military advantage. In some cases, such egregious civilian harm appears entirely foreseeable, suggesting that members of the coalition have intentionally conducted indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks,” said the report.

The report is based on an examination of open source photographs and videos of Saudi aerial attacks.

“When the coalition hits a market twice, it shows that there is a lack of will to minimize civilian casualties or collateral damage. People are going to come after the first strike, so obviously you’re going to hit first responders and civilians,” the lead of the Yemen team at Bellingcat, Rawan Shaif, told The Independent.

“Even if there was a military target at these sites, the evidence suggests they were targeting individuals, and not weapons depots due to a lack of secondary explosions,” she added.

“Going in twice to make sure that an individual is dead, and causing all the collateral damage, is recklessness,” Shaif said.

The report also said the coalition’s own investigations into its military actions in Yemen, “appear to have been purely token in nature and forthcoming only in response to overwhelming international outrage”.

It comes as the British government prepares to appeal a court ruling that forced it to suspend sales of UK arms to Saudi Arabia because they are used by Riyadh against civilians in Yemen.

Bellingcat, a non-profit organization that specializes in open-source investigations, said Saudi-led attacks that potentially breach humanitarian law have not stopped, which indicates “a clear risk that weapons sold by the UK may be used in breaches”.

Enjoying the support of the US and Britain, Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 lives over the past four and a half years.

The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.

‘Another crime against humanity’

On Sunday, Saudi Arabia carried out several air raids on a college-turned-prison in Dhamar Province where prisoners of war were being kept, leaving more than 100 people dead, according to health officials and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

A spokesperson for Yemen’s health ministry told Middle East Eye that 185 people were detained in three buildings belonging to Dhamar Community College, which were hit by seven airstrikes on Sunday.

"The three buildings were hit and there were 185 prisoners inside them, and all of them were either killed or injured," a source in the Dhamar health office told MEE, adding "When the Saudis hit a building with an airstrike, it is certain that everyone inside it will become a casualty."

He further said that prison's guards were also killed and wounded in the attack.

Noting that over 100 dead had so far been counted, the source said "In the coming hours, the number of dead will exceed 150, as most of the wounded people suffer from critical wounds and they cannot receive proper healthcare in Dhamar or Sana’a."

"The destruction of the medical system is another Saudi crime, as injured people cannot receive proper healthcare."

He stressed that the jail was known not to be a military site.

The Saudi-led coalition claimed that the airstrikes destroyed a site storing drones and missiles in Dhamar.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605124/Saudi-doubletap-airstrikes-Yemen

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Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone headed towards Saudi Arabia

September 03, 2019

The Arab coalition destroyed a Houthi drone launched from Yemen's Amran province towards Saudi Arabia, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

Coalition forces intercepted the drone while it was still in Yemen’s airspace.

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the militia’s continued attempted attacks would end in failure.

Al-Maliki says that the coalition uses the best measures on operational matters to intercept Houthi attacks and protect civilians.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548936/saudi-arabia

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Damascus hails Hezbollah attack on Israel across the Lebanese border

September 02, 2019

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government on Monday hailed Hezbollah’s strike the previous day on an Israeli military vehicle.

Hezbollah said it had fired anti-tank missiles into northern Israel on Sunday, destroying a military vehicle.

Israel’s army said it responded with around 100 artillery shells after Hezbollah fired two or three anti-tank missiles at a battalion headquarters and military ambulance, hitting both.

On Monday, the Syrian government threw its support behind Hezbollah, whose fighters have since 2013 been fighting on President Bashar Assad’s side in Syria’s civil war.

“The Syrian Arab Republic expresses its pride at the... operation that the Lebanese national resistance carried out against the military patrol of the Zionist occupier,” a source at the ministry of foreign affairs told state news agency SANA.

“Syria repeats that it stands fully by the Lebanese national resistance and its legitimate right — side by side with the Lebanese army — to work toward preserving the sovereignty of Lebanon,” the source said.

Sunday’s exchange of fire over the Lebanese-Israeli border comes one week after Hezbollah accused Israel of carrying out a drone attack on its southern Beirut stronghold.

On August 24, Israel also said it had carried out strikes in Syria to avert an Iranian drone attack on the Jewish state. Hezbollah said those strikes killed two of its members.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548661/middle-east

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Shiite Muslims Prepare to Mark Ashura in Iraq

September 3rd, 2019

The day of Ashura is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shia Muslims, it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

In Sunni Islam, Ashura also marks the day that Moses and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Sea, and is the Islamic equivalent to Yom Kippur.

For Shia Muslims, Ashura is a solemn day of mourning the martyrdom of Hussein in 680 AD at Karbala in modern-day Iraq.

It is marked with mourning rituals and passion plays re-enacting the martyrdom. Shia men and women dressed in black also parade through the streets slapping their chests and chanting.

People in Iraq are getting ready ahead of the Shiite Muslim religious mourning period of Ashura. Mosul International Shopping Festival in Iraq is a great opportunity to buy all the necessary stuff ahead of the Shiite Muslim religious mourning period of Ashura. Women view black t-shirts sold by a peddler to Shiite Muslim pilgrims amidst preparations, men are looking for black t-shirts, emblazoned with the Shiite Muslim slogan "O Abbas", as a sign of mourning referring to the Muslim Imam Abbas ibn Ali, grandson of the prophet Mohamed.

https://www.albawaba.com/slideshow/days-ahead-shiite-muslim-festival-mourning-iraq-1306325

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North America

 

Sanders Calls For Americans To Stand Together At Large Muslim Convention

By Marcy Oster

September 3, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders got a standing ovation at the Islamic Society of North America annual convention in Houston.

Sanders spoke on Saturday to the conventions some 6,000 attendees, the first presidential candidate, along with Julian Castro, to address the gathering, the largest meeting of American Muslims.

“I am here today because I believe in the concept of solidarity, and the need for all of us, no matter where we come from or what our background is, to stand together in the struggle for justice and human rights,” Sanders said.

“We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community and call it what it is: Domestic Terrorism,” he also said.

He brought up his personal history, as the “proud son of Jewish immigrants.”

“As some of you may know, the issue of hatred and prejudice is very personal for me,” he said. He noted that those in his family who remained in Poland after Hitler came to power were murdered by the Nazis.

“And the lesson I learned from that experience is how important it is for all of us to speak out forcefully whenever we see prejudice and discrimination,” he said.

He reminded his audience that “in the wake of Trump’s Muslim ban, thousands of non-Muslims from all walks of life rushed to airports all across this country to stand in solidarity with Muslims.”

Sanders was introduced by his campaign manager Faiz Shakir, the first Muslim to manage a major presidential campaign.

https://www.jpost.com/American-Politics/Sanders-calls-for-Americans-to-stand-together-at-largest-Muslim-convention-600469

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At first Muslim presidential forum, Sanders reaps adoration of ISNA attendees

September 1, 2019

(RNS) — The Islamic Society of North America attracted some major names to its annual convention in Houston this year, including comedian Trevor Noah, activist Linda Sarsour, Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad and (by video) Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

But the figure attendees seemed most excited to hear was Sen. Bernie Sanders, who on Saturday (Aug. 31) along with former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro became the first presidential candidates to address the country’s biggest gathering of Muslims.

Both Castro and Sanders underscored the need to forge progressive coalitions and build solidarity between communities if any Democratic candidate hopes to defeat President Trump in 2020.

“I am here today because I believe in the concept of solidarity, and the need for all of us, no matter where we come from or what our background is, to stand together in the struggle for justice and human rights,” Sanders told the approximately 6,000 attendees at the forum.

While Sanders repeatedly mentioned his father, a Jewish refugee who fled anti-Semitism and poverty in Poland, Castro avoided invoking his Catholic faith and instead leaned on his status as a second-generation Latino immigrant.

Held in the George R. Brown Convention Center, just miles from where the next Democratic debates will take place on Sept. 12, the forum was organized by ISNA, the Muslim activist group Emgage USA and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Outside, attendees were greeted by armed anti-Muslim protesters.

The forum began with the Arabic word “bismillah” — an invocation of God’s name — as well as a recitation of a verse from Surah Ar-R’ad, the 13th chapter of the Quran, that serves as a central theme for the conference: “Indeed Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

Noting the deadly mass shooting that happened just minutes before elsewhere in Texas, organizers also urged attendees to engage in heartfelt prayer for the improvement of America’s condition.

Sanders’ remarks, carefully tailored for his audience to include discussions of health care and hate crimes, mass shootings and Middle East interventions, received a standing ovation, thunderous applause and chants of “Bernie!”

Sanders reminded his audience of the thousands of non-Muslims who rushed to airports to protest the travel ban and “stand in solidarity with Muslims,” and to how Americans have responded to the Trump administration by voting Muslims into Congress and state governments across the U.S.

“What that tells me is that the American people understand that that country is at our best when we stand together, regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs,” he said. “The truth is that if we are going to be successful in senseless violence, we must come together and not demonize one another.”

The Vermont senator issued strong condemnations of Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian areas, China’s mass internment and “abuse” of Uighur Muslims, and U.S. involvement in a “horrific” civil war in Yemen, where he said a Saudi-Iranian conflict has produced the “worst humanitarian catastrophe in the world today.”

Sanders also issued a fiery condemnation of India’s “unacceptable” crackdown on Kashmiri autonomy, noting the clampdown’s effects on denying Kashmiri people vital medical care.

While both candidates said they do not support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel, they condemned laws restricting other Americans’ right to support the movement.

Both candidates affirmed that they would pursue a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian crisis, end the travel ban that the Trump administration has ordered against Muslim-majority countries, rebuild the United States’ gutted refugee resettlement program and reinvest in programs to prevent domestic terrorism and white supremacist violence.

Castro told the audience: “You are full partners in American progress. Too often in our country’s history the message to the Muslim American community has been that somehow you’re the enemy, or you’re the problem.”

That same spirit of “respect and humility” must carry over to foreign policy, he added.

“When the history of the 21st century is written, I hope historians will look back and say the United States worked with Muslim-majority countries to create a global peace that everybody could be proud of,” Castro said.

But Sanders has done more than any current candidate to win the hearts of the convention audience, even before he took the stage.

Of the 2020 candidates, Sanders has been the most vocal critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. He also helped pass a bill to end American involvement in Yemen’s deadly civil war and was quick to defend Muslim congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar when fellow Democrats accused her of anti-Semitism.

The Sanders campaign is also run by Faiz Shakir, the first Muslim to ever manage a major presidential campaign.

Shakir, who joined Sanders at the forum, told Religion News Service in an interview that the candidate’s outreach to Muslims is “consistent with his larger ecumenical approach.” He pointed to Sanders’ meeting with the rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue as well as his visits to various churches.

“He goes to share his vision of community that he thinks we need to build in America,” said Shakir. “An overarching premise of his domestic policy agenda is to say, ‘I should think about your family as if they are my own and you should think about my family as if they are your own.’”

Earlier this summer, the senator sent a video of his remarks to the Muslim Collective for Equitable Democracy conference, billed as the first national gathering of Muslim Americans in politics. In April, he became the highest-ranking U.S. official and first presidential candidate to visit a mosque after the New Zealand mosque shooting. He also participated in an interfaith roundtable event at Washington, D.C.’s historic Masjid Muhammad back in 2015. And during his previous presidential run, he specifically reached out to Muslim and Arab American voters.

Attendees’ reaction to Castro, who has not been involved in any other major Muslim-focused campaigning, was more muted. Much of the audience had dispersed by the time his Q&A session began.

Julián Castro

@JulianCastro

This president has built his career on scapegoating certain communities—including the Muslim American community and Latinos.

Now, more than ever, we need to form a powerful coalition to push back against his hate and bigotry. #ISNACON

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“American Muslims play a critical role in shaping our nation’s culture, economy and political process,” Castro’s deputy press secretary Liza Acevedo told RNS. “At a time when our president continually scapegoats and vilifies the Islamic faith for political gain, candidates should show up and speak directly to these communities about their plans to support them in the years ahead.”

Muslims who attended the forum said they were struck by the breadth of issues both candidates addressed, weaving between Middle East policy and Medicare.

“Muslims in the U.S. are not a one-issue bloc,” said Kalia Abiade, of the Pillars Fund, a Muslim community foundation. “From health care to climate change to student debt and foreign policy, it was encouraging to hear presidential candidates at tonight’s forum raise critical issues that matter to so many of us.”

“Politicians in the United States often speak about Muslims, rather than to them,” said Sajida Jalalzai, who teaches religion at Trinity University in San Antonio. “To have Sanders and Castro attend a national conference hosted by Muslims and for Muslims, and to speak openly and sincerely about issues that matter to Muslims … signifies that the candidates view Muslims as a legitimate part of this country, that they take seriously our concerns.”

For some attendees, however, the fact that just two of the 10 candidates invited chose to attend was a greater comment on how Democratic politicians regard ISNA’s constituency.

The Black Church PAC’s presidential candidate forum, hosted last month, drew five candidates. At the Native American forum a few days later, 11 candidates spoke to attendees.

“Our community is paying attention to how politicians engage with us, and is differentiating between those who say that they stand for religious freedom, and those who back it up with actions,” said Emgage CEO and Obama State Department official Wa’el Alzayat, who moderated the ISNA forum. “Attending this event and speaking directly to our community in these critical times is a perfect example of the latter.”

According to analyses by Muslim political advocacy group Jetpac, registered Muslim voters go to the polls at a higher than average rate. And in many battleground states, concentrations of registered Muslim voters can swing congressional seats, said Shaun Kennedy, Jetpac’s campaigns director.

“It’s an error to ignore the community, especially when there is relative consensus on a number of important policy issues and huge intersectional overlaps with other demographics,” Kennedy said.

For some, candidates’ dismissal of the forum echoed the Democratic Party’s historic snubs of Muslim voters. Hillary Clinton returned campaign donations from Muslim civic organizations during her 2000 Senate race, and during Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, his staffers pulled two hijab-wearing women from behind a podium as he spoke so they would not be visible to cameras.

This year, given “Trump’s blatant Islamophobia,” Kennedy said, candidates may find that engaging with Muslim communities will draw support from voters on the left.

At the forum, organizers also announced the launch of a partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau to encourage Muslim participation in the 2020 national census. Census officials emphasized that data collection is important for allocating the government’s resources and that none of the information collected will be shared with law enforcement.

Full report at:

https://religionnews.com/2019/09/01/at-first-muslim-presidential-forum-sanders-reaps-adoration-of-isna-attendees/

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US envoy shows Afghan president draft Taliban deal

September 03, 2019

KABUL: The US ambassador leading efforts to forge a deal with the Taliban met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Monday and showed him the draft of a proposed agreement with the insurgents.

Zalmay Khalilzad has spent about a year meeting the Taliban in Doha in a series of talks aimed at ending America’s 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The prospective deal centres on a US troop reduction in return for several security guarantees from the Taliban, as well as broader peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government and an eventual ceasefire.

Mr Khalilzad — a former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq — arrived in the Afghan capital on Sunday evening following a ninth round of talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital.

He met Mr Ghani then and on Monday he showed the Afghan leader a draft of the US-Taliban agreement, officials said.

The discussions are significant because the Afghan government has until now been largely sidelined from talks, though any eventual deal would require the Taliban to talk to Mr Ghani, whom they view as a US stooge.

“The efforts of the US and other partners will yield results when the Taliban enter direct negotiations with the Afghan government,” Mr Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters. “We hope these efforts will lead to an end to the conflict.”

When asked to describe the deal, Mr Sediqqi demurred, saying “the most important thing is that the Taliban’s violence stops”. “We are hopeful that any agreement to be signed between the United States and the Taliban results in peace and ceasefire,” he said.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said in a statement he too had been briefed and assured of “a thorough and sustainable peace in Afghanistan”.

President Ghani has appointed a 15-member delegation to meet the Taliban at “intra-Afghan” talks slated to take place in Norway in the coming weeks.

On Sunday, Mr Khalilzad said the US and the Taliban were at the “threshold” of a deal that would reduce violence and pave the way for “sustainable” peace.

But even as negotiations have entered their apparent final stage, violence has continued apace across Afghanistan.

On Saturday, the Taliban attempted to seize Kunduz in the north, and on Sunday, they launched an operation in the city of Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of neighbouring Baghlan province.

Afghan officials on Monday said Pul-e-Khumri had been cleared of Taliban fighters and fighting restricted to the outskirts.

Afghan forces, backed by local and US air power, were able to stop Kunduz falling and repel the Taliban, who briefly seized the city in 2015.

Afghan officials claimed on Monday the city was back to normal but in the afternoon a suicide bomber detonated himself near a security-forces base on the outskirts of Kunduz, killing six troops and wounding 15 other people.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, the US-led Nato mission in Afghanistan said mechanical problems had caused a coalition drone to crash in Ghor province.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously said he hoped a peace deal would be finalised before Sept 1, ahead of Afghan polls set for Sept 28.

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s spokesman in Doha, said on Saturday a deal was “near to [be] finalised” but did not specify what obstacles remain.

All of the last-minute deal-making comes less than a month before the presidential elections are due.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1503191/us-envoy-shows-afghan-president-draft-taliban-deal

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Bolton excluded from Afghanistan policy amid disagreement with Trump

Sep 2, 2019

US National Security Adviser John Bolton has been sidelined from sensitive discussions about an emerging peace deal aimed at ending America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, according to US officials.

Bolton, who has long advocated an expansive military presence around the world, has become a staunch internal foe of ending America’s longest war, the Washington Post reported, citing a half-dozen US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The officials said that Bolton’s opposition to the diplomatic effort in Afghanistan has irritated President Donald Trump and led White House aides to leave the hawkish national security adviser out of a high-stakes meeting about the war in Afghanistan earlier this month.

The sidelining of Bolton has cast doubt about his influence in the Trump administration’s policy towards nations like North Korea and Iran. Bolton, US officials said, stands in opposition to reducing tensions with Tehran and Pyongyang, but he does so increasingly from the periphery.

“I can’t think of another example where a national security adviser was sidelined like this,” said Tom Wright, an international security expert at the Brookings Institution. “One thing that makes this different from normal bureaucratic infighting is that Bolton has pitted himself against a policy the president clearly supports.”

Bolton’s isolation on Afghanistan became particularly apparent this month when Trump’s top national security officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, met on Trump’s golf resort in New Jersey to discuss the peace deal in Afghanistan.

Bolton was not originally invited out of concern that his team would oppose the agenda and leak the details later, several officials said. “His team has a reputation for losing and leaking,” said one senior administration official with direct knowledge of the discussions.

Bolton rejected the allegation, saying in a statement, “I categorically deny leaks by me or anyone authorized to speak to the press. Those alleging such leaks should look in the mirror.”

Eventually, Bolton secured a spot at the meeting after one of his aides appealed to White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, according to a US official. During the meeting, Bolton and the president exchanged opposing views over policy options on Afghanistan, US officials said.

in a Fox News interview on Thursday, Trump said he plans to reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan from 14,000 to 8,600 and then will determine further drawdowns.

Trump has repeatedly advocated for bringing US troops back from Afghanistan, putting him at odds with hawkish officials like Bolton.

US officials have held several rounds of direct negotiations with the Taliban to pull out American forces in exchange for concessions. The militant group says it does not recognize the government in Kabul.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605153/US-National-Security-Adviser-John-Bolton-Afghanistan

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Trump hard-line support for Israel aimed at evangelical base: Experts

Sep 2, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s recent push to earn the backing of Jewish voters is proving to be a difficult struggle, but his hard-line support for Israel may be aimed at appealing to evangelical Christians and boost his chances of re-election in 2020, experts and politicians say.

Experts say that Trump’s goal of aligning himself squarely behind the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and attacking on those who oppose him, is to rally evangelical Christians, not Jewish voters.

"It is about pandering to his base of voters. And the base voters, the Trump voters who care about this issue are, the vast majority, Republicans, Christians and in many cases fundamentalist evangelicals," Logan Bayroff, spokesman for J Street, a left-wing pro-Israel group in Washington, told the The Hill newspaper.

"Trump [is] expressing frustration that while the evangelical community is on board with his far-right policies ... the vast majority of Jewish voters are disgusted by it, broadly disgusted by Trump [and] are going to vote against him and his party," he added.

Evangelical Christians, a loyal voter base for Trump, believe only intense conflict in the Middle East and the gathering of Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the return of Jesus.

"It seems pretty obvious that everything the president does is meant to cater to his base," said US Representative Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida.

"Given that his base is 40 percent of the American people or less, I guess we'll have to see if that's a good political judgment," he added. "But clearly there was no thought about trying to win over some of the three-quarters of the members of the Jewish community who voted against him in the last election."

Trump recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and signed a proclamation in March recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, Syrian territory.

“He's clearly in tune with making these decisions and making policies toward Israel and talking about Israel in a way that aligns with the end times, rapture ideas of a portion of his base," Bayroff of J Street said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/09/02/605139/Trump-Jewish-voters-evangelical-Christians

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US would withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan and close bases under peace plan

September 02, 2019

KABUL: The United States would withdraw almost 5,000 troops from Afghanistan and close five bases within 135 days under a draft peace accord agreed with the Taliban, the chief US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday.

The deal, reached after months of negotiations with representatives from the insurgent movement, must still be approved by US President Donald Trump before it can be signed, Khalilzad said in an interview with Tolo News television.

“In principle, we have got there,” he said. “The document is closed.”

In exchange for the phased withdrawal, the Taliban would commit not to allow Afghanistan to be used by militant groups such as Al-Qaeda or Daesh to plot attacks on the United States and its allies.

However the distance that must still be covered before peace is achieved was underlined by a large explosion that rocked the Afghan capital Kabul even as Khalilzad’s interview was being aired, shaking buildings several kilometers away.

Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-American diplomat said the aim of the deal was to end the war and he said it would lead to a reduction in violence but there was no formal cease-fire agreement. It would be up to negotiations among Afghans themselves to agree a settlement, he said.

He declined to say how long the remainder of the roughly 14,000 US troops would remain in Afghanistan after the first stage of the withdrawal although Taliban officials have previously insisted that all foreign forces must leave.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been briefed on a draft of the accord and will look at details of the deal before giving an opinion, his spokesman said on Monday.

Khalilzad said so-called “intra-Afghan” talks, which might be held in Norway, would aim to reach a broader political settlement and end the fighting between the Taliban and the Western-backed government in Kabul.

However details of any future negotiations remain unclear, with the Taliban so far refusing to deal directly with the government, which it considers an illegitimate “puppet” regime.

Ghani met Khalilzad and will “study and assess” details of the draft, spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters earlier on Monday. “But for us, a meaningful peace or a path to a meaningful peace is the end of violence and direct negotiation with the Taliban,” he said.

Presidential elections, scheduled for Sept. 28 in which Ghani is seeking re-election to a second five-year term, were not covered in the agreement, Khalilzad said.

Many Afghan government officials have resented the exclusion of the government from the US-Taliban talks, an issue that was underlined when Ghani was not allowed to keep a text of the draft agreement after it was shown to him.

Khalilzad, who has completed nine rounds of talks with Taliban representatives, is scheduled to hold meetings with a number of Afghan leaders in Kabul this week to build a consensus before the deal is signed.

The peace talks have taken place against a backdrop of relentless violence, even before Monday’s blast in Kabul, with the Taliban mounting two large-scale attacks on the major northern cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri at the weekend.

Afghan security forces pushed back Taliban fighters from both cities but a suicide bomber detonated his explosives on Monday in Kunduz, killing at least six policemen and wounding 15, officials and the Taliban said.

Trump has made little secret of his desire to bring the roughly 14,000 troops home from Afghanistan, where American troops have been deployed since a US-led campaign overthrew the Taliban in 2001.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1548461/world

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh bans mobile phone access in Rohingya camps

2 September 2019

Bangladesh on Monday ordered operators to shut down mobile phone services to almost one million Rohingya refugees living in camps in the country’s southeast, an official said.

The move follows an outbreak of violence in recent weeks at the camps, most of whose residents fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state two years ago following a military crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority.

It also comes after none of the refugees turned up in late August to return across the border to conflict-scarred Rakhine, when a fresh push to repatriate the refugees to Myanmar fell flat.

Telecommunications operators have seven days to submit reports on the actions they have taken to shut down networks in the camps, said the spokesman for the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC), Zakir Hossain Khan.

“Many refugees are using mobile phones in the camps. We’ve asked the operators to take action to stop it,” he told AFP, saying the decision was made on “security grounds.”

The order stunned the Rohingya, one of their leaders said on condition of anonymity.

He said the ban would hugely affect Rohingya life, disrupting communications between different camps scattered across the border district of Cox’s Bazar.

“We won’t be able to communicate with our relatives living in Myanmar or other parts of the world,” the leader said. Many Rohingya, he said, rely on remittances sent by their diaspora and usually receive phone calls informing them of the money transfers.

Bangladesh has in the past tried to restrict mobile phone access in the settlements. But the move was not enforced seriously, spawning booming markets of mobile phone sets and SIM cards in the camps.

Police spokesman Ikbal Hossain welcomed the decision, saying the refugees had been “abusing” mobile phone access to conduct criminal activities such as trafficking of methamphetamine pills worth hundreds of millions of dollars from Myanmar.

“It will definitely make a positive impact. I believe criminal activities will surely come down,” he told AFP.

On Sunday police said a fourth Rohingya refugee was shot dead in the fallout over the murder of local ruling party official Omar Faruk by suspected Rohingya criminals.

Faruk’s murder led hundreds of furious locals to block a highway leading to a refugee camp for hours on August 22, burning tyres and vandalising shops visited by refugees.

Rohingya refugees have said the recent bloodshed has created an atmosphere of fear in the camp, where security has been tightened.

Rights groups have previously accused Bangladesh police of extrajudicial killings.

UN investigators have said the 2017 violence in Myanmar warrants the prosecution of top Myanmar generals for “genocide”.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/02/Bangladesh-bans-mobile-phone-access-in-Rohingya-camps-.html

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Karzai met with Khalilzad in the presence of U.S. Ambassador and Afghanistan’s political elites

02 Sep 2019

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with the U.S. envoy for Afghan Peace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in Kabul.

The Office of the Former President said in a statement that the meeting took place in the presence of the U.S. Ambassador to Kabul John Bass.

The statement further added that some other political elites, including Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq and Syed Hamid Gilani were also present.

Furthermore, the Office of the former President said the meeting focused on recent developments regarding the Afghan peace process where the participants shared their specific concerns regarding the process.

The statement also added that the participants of the meeting also emphasized on an halt to war and violence, timetable for coalition forces withdrawal and other issues.

Ambassador Khalilzad had earlier met with the leaders of the government of national unity in Kabul.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/karzai-met-with-khalilzad-in-the-presence-of-u-s-ambassador-and-afghanistans-political-elites-03939/

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Taliban’s Red Unit commander among 35 killed after attacking Kunduz city: NDS

31 Aug 2019

The Afghan security forces killed at least 35 Taliban militants including one of the commanders of the Red Unit of Taliban during the clashes in Kunduz city.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement the NDS forces together with the 905th Unity of the National Directorate of Security launched joint efforts to repulse the Taliban attack in Kunduz city.

The statement further added that the security forces launched joint ground and air raids in Kala Gaw, Pul-e Shinwari, Qahwa Khana and Ali Khel areas of the city.

Furthermore, the National Directorate of Security said the security forces killed 35 Taliban militants including Kamil, one of the commanders of the Red Unit of Taliban.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/talibans-red-unit-commander-among-35-killed-after-attacking-kunduz-city-nds-03911/

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19 Taliban, ISIS militants killed in Nangarhar, Baghlan and Wardak operations

02 Sep 2019

The security forces conducted counter-terrorism operations in Nangarhar, Baghlan and Wardak provinces killing at least 19 militants.

The military officials said Monday that an airstrike killed a militant of ISIS Khurasan group in Pachir Wa Agam district of Nangarhar.

The officials further added that a similar airstrike killed 11 Taliban militants in Pul-e Khumri city of Baghlan province.

Furthermore, the officials said the Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants during an operation in Sayyidabad district of Wardak.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/19-taliban-isis-militants-killed-in-nangarhar-baghlan-and-wardak-operations-03941/

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11 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces raid, airstrike in Uruzgan province

02 Sep 2019

The security forces killed at least 11 Taliban militants during separate operations in southern Uruzgan province.

The military officials said Monday that the Afghan Special Forces killed 7 Taliban militants during a raid in Shahid-e Hasas district of Uruzgan.

The officials further added that the Special Forces also destroyed a small cache of weapons during the raid.

Furthermore, the officials said an airstrike also killed 4 Taliban militants in the same district.

The security situation in Uruzgan province has deteriorated during the recent months.

Taliban militants are active in some districts of the province and often conduct terrorist related activities.

Meanwhile, the Afghan forces routinely conduct counter-terrorism operations against the anti-government armed groups in this province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/11-taliban-militants-killed-in-special-forces-raid-airstrike-in-uruzgan-province-03932/

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Afghan and U.S. forces kill 13 Taliban militants in Paktiya and Ghazni

31 Aug 2019

The Afghan and U.S. forces conducted separate operations in Paktiya and Ghazni provinces which killed at least 13 Taliban militants.

The 203rd Thunder Corps said in a statement that the Afghan forces killed 5 Taliban militants during an operation in Zurmat district of Paktiya.

The statement further added that the Afghan Special Forces and the U.S. Air Forces conducted operations in Gilan and Deh Yak districts of Ghazni province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-and-u-s-forces-kill-13-taliban-militants-in-paktiya-and-ghazni-03909/

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Toll rises to 16 dead, more than 100 wounded in Kabul blast: Official

Sep 3, 2019

KABUL: The toll from a massive blast claimed by the Taliban in Kabul has risen to 16 dead -- all civilians -- with scores more wounded, an official said Tuesday.

Monday night's attack took place in a residential area near Green Village, a large compound that houses aid agencies and international organisations. Interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the blast was caused by a tractor packed with explosives that had been parked alongside a wall by Green Village.

"Sixteen killed, 119 wounded in last night's attack," Rahimi said, noting a search-and-rescue operation had lasted through the night.

Green Village is separate from the nearby Green Zone, a walled-off and heavily fortified part of Kabulthat is home to several embassies including the US and British missions.

The Taliban claimed the attack, which came as US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in Kabul to discuss a proposed deal that would see the US withdraw troops from Afghanistan in return for insurgent security guarantees.

Residents in the area around Green Village were furious that their neighbourhood, which has been targeted before, had been hit once again and blamed the international presence.

Locals set tyres on fire, sending plumes of thick, acrid smoke into the morning sky, and closed off a main road alongside the scene of the attack.

"We want these foreigners to move out of our neighbourhood," local resident Abdul Jamil told AFP.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/toll-rises-to-16-dead-more-than-100-wounded-in-kabul-blast-official/articleshow/70954349.cms

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CTTC chief: Jamaat-Shibir men carrying out attack against cops

September 3rd, 2019

Leaders and activists or former ones of different levels of Jamaat-Shibir have engaged with JMB, says Monirul

The activists of Jamaat-e-Islami, and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir are carrying out targeted attacks on police under the name of “New-JMB”, a top counter terrorism official has claimed.

"The investigation has unearthed the mysteries of all the terror attacks, except four or five of those, and charge sheets have been filed in most of the cases. Some cases have been resolved in court, and some are under trial. Because of it, they (Jamaat-Shibir activists who joined New-JMB) do have anger on police," Monirul Islam, chief of Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) said on Monday.

In an informal briefing to a group of journalists at his office, the CTTC chief said, most of the New-JMB leaders have been arrested, and some have been killed in police raids, while some have committed suicide.

Responding to a query, he said JMB (Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh) is a terror organization created by some former leaders and activists of Jamaat-Shibir.

"We have observed that leaders, and activists or former ones of different levels of Jamaat-Shibir have engaged with JMB. But those joining after 2016 are mostly online activists," he said.

After the Holey Artisan attack, some misguided youths also joined with former Shibir leaders to strengthen its organizational capacity.

"Some of the online campaign languages, and some trademark languages of Chhatra Shibir are still in use. Those detained or arrested in different occasions, were also found to be involved with Shibir. Also, some of them are Chhatra Shibir leaders with 15-16 cases against them," said Monirul.

Some of these people have been identified, and efforts are on to nab them, he added.

Regarding the two unexploded bombs kept near police boxes in Dhaka, and the attack on cops at Science Laboratory in Dhaka, Monirul said, police were the main target of the incidents.

Explaining the reasons behind it, the CTTC chief said that there were violent political activities in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

"After the trial of war criminals, the Ganajagaran Mancha was created, and since then killing of bloggers started with expansion of militancy activities," he said.

They (militants) wanted to create a violent situation centring the trial of war criminals, but found police as their opponent, he said.

“Police had implemented the laws for the sake of security of people, property, and government properties which went against their interest, and they do have anger on police for it," he said.

Earlier on Sunday, Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader said, the bomb attack on police personnel in Dhaka's Science Laboratory area might be a test attack for a bigger plot in the near future.

On Saturday night, two policemen, including an ASI who was escorting LGRD Minister Tazul Islam at Science Laboratory, were injured after a bomb was hurled at them.

On July 23, and July 24, bomb-like objects were found near police boxes at Paltan intersection, and Khamarbari in the capital.

On May 26, two people, including a female police officer, got injured after a bomb went off near a police pickup truck in Dhaka's Malibagh intersection.

Full report at:

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2019/09/03/cttc-chief-jamaat-shibir-men-carrying-out-attack-against-cops

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Taliban claims massive VBIED explosion close to Green Village in Kabul city

02 Sep 2019

The Taliban group claimed responsibility for a massive Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) explosion in Kabul city earlier tonight.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that one of the suicide bombers of the group detonated the VBIED close to Green Village.

Mujahid went on to claim that many other assailants stormed into the compound following the explosion.

However, the interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the militants detonated the VBIED among the civilian houses.

Rahimi also rejected the Taliban claims that the fighters of the group have intruded into Green Village compound.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-claims-massive-vbied-explosion-close-to-green-village-in-kabul-city-03943/

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Large explosion hits Kabul, dozens mostly civilians killed or wounded

02 Sep 2019

The militants detonated a large Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device in Kabul city earlier tonight.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior confirmed that the explosion took place at around 9:45 pm local time close to Green Village.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility for the attack claiming that many fighters of the group intruded into Green Village Compound after detonated a VBIED.

However, the interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the militants detonated the VBIED among the civilian houses.

Rahimi also rejected the Taliban claims that the fighters of the group have intruded into Green Village compound.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/heavy-explosion-heard-in-kabul-city-03942/

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   4


  • GRD sb. is right. Hats Off's cynicism notwithstanding, eventually at some point a dialogue between the seemingly irreconcilable groups will have to occur.


    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/4/2019 11:30:00 PM



  • excellent! two organizations composed of religious goons and mad hats!
    this is progress?
    it is only the goons and the hoodlums who will organize. not the gentlemen.
    how can beef eaters find common ground with cow worshipers? this would be the greatest farce our miserable subcontinent has ever had the misfortune to read about.
    religious harmony is about shaking hands in public and washing the hands as soon as we reach home.

    By hats off! - 9/4/2019 6:49:17 PM



  • There is little doubt that such dialogues between Jami'at and RSS for communal accord, something that New Age Islam has long called for, will go a long way in understanding each other’s perspective. But such an important interaction should always be upfront and candid, NOT ambiguous and equivocal. 
    By GRD - 9/3/2019 9:48:09 PM



  • "

    RSS and Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind to join hands to ‘promote harmony’".

    Meaningless platitudes! Has the RSS ever condemned the lynchings?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 9/3/2019 10:54:35 AM



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