Garo Catholic girls perform a traditional dance during harvest festival in 2015
at Tangail district. Ethnic groups have blended their culture and tradition
with Christmas celebrations. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/ucanews.com)
PAS Cleric Urges Muslims to Celebrate Festivals Together With Non-Muslims
and Spirituality Grace Bangladesh at Christmas
but Not Free: Asia Bibi to Spend Christmas In Custody
'Too Muslim' and 'Not Muslim Enough', a Lonely Naseeruddin Shah
Joy Missing In Rubble of Syria Town
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Youth Chief Warns Muslims Not To Celebrate Christmas
CM ‘Gifts’ Non-Muslim Houses Of Worship RM50m for Christmas
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by New Age Islam News Bureau
PAS cleric urges Muslims to celebrate festivals together with non-Muslims
KINABALU: With Christmas around the corner, Muslims, especially converts, are
reminded to keep up the good relations with their friends and family of
PAS Dewan Ulama chief Mustaqim Aling said Islam does not teach its believers to
break off their ties with families, even if their families do not share the
Sabah, I hope we can all celebrate the festival together, and for those who
have converted from Christianity to Islam, you should still visit, respect and
spend time with your parents and family,” he said.
said if everyone is aware of this, and respects one another, there would not be
chaos in the society.
also urged everyone to keep up the spirit of open houses and visiting one
another during festive seasons or celebrations to strengthen ties as a
want to ensure that Sabah continues to prosper and its people live happily as
one big family,” he said in a statement on Sunday (Dec 23).
And Spirituality Grace Bangladesh At Christmas
is a time of relaxation and joy for Susmita Ruga, a Catholic from the Garo
tribe of predominantly indigenous Mymensingh Diocese in northeast Bangladesh.
Garo are a matrilineal minority, in which children take the surnames of their
mothers, living in the Indian states of Assam and Meghalaya as well as in
a university graduate based in Mymensingh city, gets a week or so break from
her studies during the Christmas period.
go home and join my family and friends in decorating the church and our
home," Susmita told ucanews.com. "We practice and participate in our
choir, prayer and caroling."
a spiritual renewal for the faithful, Christmas boosts fraternity among Garo
villagers, she said.
village hosts a traditional get-together in one house, where a cultural program
and shared meal strengthens community bonds. At both tribal and religious
festivals, pork and a rice beer called Chu is consumed.
consumption is purely traditional for Garo people, so no one takes it for
addiction and no unpleasant incident occurs — Garo people respect their culture
and traditions more than their lives," Susmita said.
festivals, most Garo women wear dokmanda (a traditional Garo dress) and both
men and women use ethnic ornaments including a headdress made of bird feathers.
who are ethnically mongoloid, make up majority of the more than 80,000
Catholics in Mymensingh Diocese.
for minority Christians
Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Christians make up less than half a percent of the
country's more than 160 million people.
of the estimated 600,000 Christians are Catholics, spread over eight Catholic
dioceses. Apart from majority Bengali Christians, nearly half of the country's
Christians hail from various ethnic minority groups such as the Garo.
has an added significance for Bangladeshi Christians as it is the only
Christian feast that enjoys a public holiday and is popular with all faiths and
capital, Dhaka, is home to the largest number of Christians, both Bengali and
indigenous peoples. Most moved to the bustling city from the provinces to
study, find jobs or engage in business.
during Christmas holidays, many head back to their provinces to celebrate with
family and friends.
restaurants and convention centers in Dhaka hold numerous Christmas parties
that attract both Bangladeshis and foreigners, including state officials and
members of the diplomatic community.
groups organize Christmas fairs, carol competitions and other events. In cities
and villages alike, Christians put up decorations and lights, and there are
midnight Masses on Christmas Eve.
Paul Gomes, vicar-general of Rajshahi Diocese, told ucanews.com that seasonal
reunions and festivities lift people's spirits.
means putting behind the old and welcoming new," he said. "People
wear new clothes, prepare good food and share their joy with others."
for the poor
Bishop Bejoy N. D'Cruze of Sylhet says Christmas festivities help many poor
local people, including ethnic Khasia Catholics and tea plantation workers, to
forget their pain and reinvigorate themselves.
Christians put aside their life of suffering to celebrate the birth of
Jesus," Bishop D'Cruze told ucanews.com.
shortage of priests meant that about 30 percent of Catholics would not be able
to attend a Mass on Christmas Day, so they would have special prayers instead,
the bishop added.
help cope with the winter chill, blankets had been distributed.
Catholics in Chittagong Archdiocese, Christmas is overlapping with preparations
for the celebration early in 2019 of 500 years since the arrival of the
Catholic faith in what was then East Bengal, now Bangladesh.
jubilee will be a special occasion to renew faith in Christ by thanking early
missionaries and others who were martyred, said Archbishop Moses M. Costa of
Sourav Folia of the Protestant Church of Bangladesh said for both Bengali and
indigenous Christians, Christmas blended cultural and religious fervor.
Baskey, an ethnic Santal Catholic from Dinajpur Diocese, echoed this sentiment.
Vatican Council II, Churches had made efforts towards 'inculturization' of traditional
customs," Baskey told ucanews.com. "As a result, Santals have Sohorai
and Baha — harvest and spring festivals — merged with Christmas and Easter
he laments that due to merging, some traditional festivals have lost their
is to hold a parliamentary election on Dec. 30. Campaigning has already
triggered political violence, including deaths, and sparked panic among
minorities, including Christians.
D. Das, regional director of Catholic charity Caritas Khulna in southern
Bangladesh, told ucanews.com that security fears meant many people would be
less likely to engage in Christmas-related travel.
but not free: Asia Bibi to spend Christmas in custody
Christian Asia Bibi will celebrate Christmas under guard, despite being cleared
of the blasphemy charges that kept her in jail since 2010.
– a former labourer who was on death row for eight years — remains a prime
target, with extremists calling for her blood and the government refusing to
reveal her location out of fear for her safety.
too dangerous… People want to kill her,” said Yousaf Hadayat, a resident from
one of Islamabad’s impoverished Christian ghetto, littered this week by a
smattering of Santa hats and Christmas trees.
this Christmas, like many before it, will be tight with the government set to
deploy armed forces to the Christian colonies.
Supreme Court overturned Bibi’s death sentence for blasphemy in October, and
she has legally been a free woman ever since.
the ruling ignited days of violent demonstrations that paralysed large swathes
of the country, with enraged religious groups calling for her beheading.
government has since launched a crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan
(TLP) party — the party driving the protests.
authorities also struck a deal with the protesters to end the violence, forming
an agreement which included allowing a final review of the Supreme Court’s
who is seeking asylum abroad, is believed to be in protective custody inside
Pakistan as the review continues.
there is no clear timeline for when it will be completed.
government spokesman refused to comment on its status, saying only that the
matter is with the court.
Fasi Zaka warned that the longer Bibi remains in limbo, the greater the danger.
“For some elements if they don’t have access to Asia Bibi they’ll find stand-ins
for their vengeance,” he told AFP.
continues to be a massively inflammatory issue in Pakistan, where even unproven
accusations can spark lynchings.
is a lighting rod issue that affects a whole community,” said Zaka.
allegations against Bibi date back to 2009, when a fight erupted between her
and fellow Muslim labourers, who later accused Bibi of blasphemy. She was
convicted under Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws and in 2010 sentenced to death.
her acquittal speculation has been rife that an asylum deal with a European or
North American country may be in the works.
residents of the 100 Quarters Colony in Islamabad cautioned against Bibi’s
release, saying her safety would only be guaranteed once she was granted asylum
in a foreign country.
no. She cannot stay,” said resident Hadayat.
campaign worker Shahnaz Arif argued against Bibi’s ongoing custody. “We should
get the same freedom that others enjoy,” she said.
— who make up around two percent of the population — occupy one of the lowest
rungs in Pakistani society, largely living in slums and working menial jobs as
street sweepers, cleaners and cooks.
is celebrated with near and dear ones, and not in custody,” said Christmas
decoration seller Amjab Burgkat.
are security fears, but she should celebrate Christmas with her family.”
'too Muslim' and 'not Muslim enough', a lonely Naseeruddin Shah
script is now nauseatingly familiar. A prominent public figure expresses his
disquiet about the growing intolerance in India. All hell immediately breaks
loose. Polite commentary labels him a Congress stooge or challenges him to
prove his patriotism equating Modi with the idea of Indian nationhood; the
excitable immediately warn of that well trodden threat of shipping him across
the western borders.
to form, India’s cacophony of news channels organised platitudinous debates
where all extremist voices were amplified. One particularly enterprising
network even managed to assemble members of Mr. Shah’s extended family as they
have some special insight on his comments!
amidst this din is the actual import of the original comments. There is nothing
which Mr. Shah said which was particularly exceptional or surprising. Let’s
look at the extant case. A mob assembled and led by local Bajrang Dal
sympathisers—euphemistically known as the sword arm of the ruling BJP—-ambushed
a police officer in Bulandshahar. Three weeks later, under the watch of a chief
minister touted by BJP sympathisers as 'no nonsense' and tough on crime, the
prime accused have still managed to evade arrest. The UP police which has been
accused of stage managing encounters appears helpless in catching those
credibly accused of killing one of their own. The rabble rousing UP chief
minister has made it amply clear to anyone paying attention that he views the
cow slaughter which allegedly provoked the incident as a much higher priority.
The local BJP leaders including elected MLAs have been even more forthright:
repeatedly equating the life of a cow with that of human life. And despite all
attempts at obfuscation by the usual suspects, there is little doubt that this
is part of a larger pattern: the cow which is venerated by large sections of
the Hindu population has been cynically used to encourage religious cleavages
and often to openly justify mob violence.
Mr. Shah is entirely correct in his argument that a cow is being placed at a
higher pedestal than that of a slain police officer. That this otherwise
anodyne point is somehow controversial vividly illustrates the distance India
has traveled in the last few years. The only amusing aspect of this entire
sordid tale is the immense sensitivity of those who have encouraged this
climate of insouciance and impunity to any criticism of the natural denouement
of their rhetoric and actions.
here’s what makes Mr. Shah a tremendously tragic figure in Modi’s India. He is
not only being criticised and ridiculed by one aspect of the political spectrum
but the opposite as well.
simple argument that his children have had no particular religious education in
a very liberal household is taken as a convenient rejection of his faith to
curry favor with the prevailing majoritarian climate. Mr. Shah’s heartfelt
lament that his children, if accosted by a murderous mob, would be hard pressed
to reveal their religion is dismissed as a convenient fig leaf and not a
genuine discomfort with faith itself. You are either a fully practicing Muslim
or someone who has no business voicing 'Muslim' concerns: a right which is
exclusively available to those who embrace all aspects of the faith. Even
though Mr. Shah spoke as a concerned Indian and not as a Muslim.
Shah is too Muslim for the Hindu Right and not enough of a Muslim for their
ideological counterparts. This is a space sadly familiar to those who may
identify themselves as cultural Hindus or heavens forbid as liberals with a
Hindu name. They have apparently lost all right to comment upon Hindu issues as
they may reject the visible trappings of their faith. And yet, unless they are
prepared to label Hinduism as the greatest affliction in the history of humanity,
they are viewed suspiciously by the other side as well. They are either
deracinated fifth columnists or subtle enablers, and not citizens deeply
invested in the idea of a pluralistic India. In India’s polarised politics,
they are caught in the no man’s land. That the rejection of extremist positions
can be a considered choice and not necessarily a cop out is an argument which
is increasingly impossible to make. Mr. Shah is the latest victim of the same
discourse; he just happens to carry a Muslim name.
rejection of the middle liberal space has dangerous portends for India. The
liberals may have been insignificant in India’s raucous electoral democracy;
yet, they carried the aspirations of a more hopeful future. Reducing them to
their identities despite all their protestations is another marker of the rise
of a more illiberal India. For one of the most diverse countries in the world,
that is surely not a sign of a more sanguine and successful future.
his eponymous character in Saeed Akhtar Mirza’s 'Albert Pinto ko guess kyon
aata hai', Mr. Shah plays an increasingly disillusioned and angry motor
mechanic raging against the system and the unfairness it enables. Why are we
not more angry he asks in his latest intervention; one can only hope that his
renewed outrage is not the last vestiges of a more liberal India but a flame
which can still burn bright.
joy missing in rubble of Syria town
Syria: With Christmas approaching, Nabil Al-Aash dusts off religious books as
he attempts to tidy up the war-scarred Saint George Church in the town of
Arbin, northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus.
in the spring by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad during a brutal
offensive to capture the rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta, Arbin is anything
from razed buildings spills out into deserted streets lined with burned-out
cars and twisted scraps of metal. The town looks more apocalyptic than merry.
only church, Saint George’s flame-scorched walls and empty nave are a testament
to the seven-year conflict that has left more than 360,000 people dead and
no celebration here. Christian homes are destroyed and their church is
destroyed,” says Aash.
restoration of the Greek Orthodox church, built in 1873, “will take a lot of
time, money and effort,” he adds.
not a single icon left — all of them were either burned or stolen,” said the
55-year-old, approaching the altar.
also found broken crosses.”
fled Arbin in 2012 as fighting engulfed the town, plagued afterwards for years
by violence and a crippling siege imposed by Damascus.
after regime forces retook the area, he decided to return home.
grew up in this church, I spent all of my Christmases here... it was once
overflowing with joy,” he remembers.
almost collapsed when I saw it.”
him, the festive spirit “won’t return until the residents and parishioners do.”
a blistering offensive backed by Russian air power, government forces in April
retook Eastern Ghouta, a key rebel foothold at the gates of Damascus.
military push and years of shelling flattened large swathes of the area and
forced most of its pre-war population to flee.
the war, Arbin was home to some 3,000 Christian residents, according to Mayor
despite the return of relative calm to the capital and its surroundings, Arbin
residents are still hesitant to come back.
are only five Christians who regularly visit the town, the others go from time
to time... most of their homes are destroyed,” says Aash.
few dozen meters away from the church, Joseph Hakimeh directs a worker on a
ladder as he puts the final touches to a freshly painted wall of a restored
contractor is getting ready to hand the keys back to the owner, and is working
on three other homes in addition to his own.
preparing to return as soon as services and infrastructure are ready, but that
needs time,” he says.
on a can of paint, the 39-year-old yearns for the way things once were.
hope that next year everything will return to the way it was before — Christmas
trees, decorations, carols and prayers,” he says.
mood is gloomy is Arbin, but just a few kilometers away, bright colored lights
illuminate the streets of Damascus.
giant tree decorates Abbasiyyin Square, long avoided due to its proximity to
the frontline with the former rebel stronghold.
lights and garlands also decorate homes in the predominantly Christian
neighborhood of Kassaa in eastern Damascus.
not everyone is in the Christmas spirit.
Riad Rajiha’s family arrived to the area after fleeing Arbin in 2012, they have
not had the heart to celebrate.
left our Christmas tree behind, so we missed out on decorating,” says Rajiha,
his eyes brimming with tears.
the meaning of decorating a tree in a house that’s not yours?“
through an old photo album, he revisits pictures of the Saint George Church in
all its former glory.
chandeliers hang from its high ceilings, its wooden pews packed with
roots are there and our memories are there,” says the 66-year-old, who dreams
of celebrating the holiday in Arbin with his grandchildren.
was born in Arbin, I lived in Arbin, and I hope to be die and be buried there.”
some differences, the Islamic world should come together around the pivot of
support for Palestine to prevent a mistreatment of the issue," Zarif said
in a meeting with senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar in Tehran on Sunday.
for Palestine is one of the principled policies of the Islamic Republic and we
hope that some Islamic governments which are delighted with the Zionists and US
support turn around and come to realize that the Zionists are not a reliable friend
and partner for anyone," he added.
expressed displeasure in some Muslim states' confrontational approach towards
resistance, noting that such an attitude lays pressure on all Muslim states and
has always supported the Palestinian people and denounced Israeli occupation of
relevant remarks on Saturday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said the
criminal acts of Israel against Palestinians must be heard by the entire world,
denouncing the brutalities of Tel Aviv to crack down on the oppressed
the deprived people of Palestine is a responsibility for every conscientious
human,” Larijani said in a meeting with a visiting group of Palestinian MPs.
to the crimes committed by the “Zionist regime”, specially in the Gaza Strip,
Larijani pointed out "the criminal acts of this regime must be heard by
the entire world”.
added that disclosing and revealing the regime’s crimes against the deprived
people of Palestine would provide more support to the Palestinian cause.
hope that all regional countries and the whole world would further increase
their support for Palestinian resistance in order for them to be strengthened,”
the Iranian top legislator underlined.
the meeting, the head of the Palestinian parliamentary group, Mahmoud al-Zahar,
lauded the Islamic Republic of Iran, saying "al-Quds issue brings together
the freedom-seeking people of the whole world, and I must thank the Islamic
Republic's positions towards the Palestinian people here”.
stances at the United Nations on US-drafted anti-Palestinian resolutions is
also praiseworthy," al-Zahar pointed out.
Youth chief warns Muslims not to celebrate Christmas
JAYA, Dec 24 — Pas Youth chief Muhammad Khalil Abdul Hadi yesterday warned
Muslims not to celebrate Christmas as it is against the teachings of Islam.
Harian reported Muhammad Khalil as reminding Muslims not to be part of the
celebrations tomorrow because it was an acknowledgement of the Christian
has an element of syirik (idoltary) which is against Islam’s teaching. They
claim that God had a child, which is against our beliefs as Muslims.
celebrate Christmas with such elements and claim that Prophet Isa (Jesus) is
the son of God,” he reportedly said during a lecture in Kuala Terrengganu last
is Batu Burok state assemblyman and son of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi
reportedly said any non-Muslim celebration should not be celebrated by Muslims
as it involves the belief of a wrong religion.
he said if it involves culture of a certain religion it was fine for Muslims to
be part of the celebration.
example the Chinese New Year celebration is a culture and not something that
involves religion, but Deepavali is something to do with religion so we
(Muslims) can't celebrate,” he said.
Sabah PAS Dewan Ulama chief Mustaqim Aling urged Muslims, especially converts,
to keep ties with friends and family of different religions.
Sabah, I hope we can all celebrate the festival together, and for those who
have converted from Christianity to Islam, you should still visit, respect and
spend time with your parents and family,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg in his Christmas message today
said Sarawakians of all faith share joy and festivities together.
are like brothers and sisters who have much respect for each other's culture
and religion,” he said in a statement.
Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also urged Malaysians to cherish the
understanding and respect between all Malaysians this Christmas.
Islam, it is compulsory for us to tolerate one another.
al-Mumtahanah verses 8 to 9 encourages Muslims to be just and kind to
non-Muslims who are not the enemies of Muslims.
Christmas, I call upon all Malaysians to continue to uphold the peaceful
coexistence and bonds of friendship between people of all races and religions
in this country,” she said in a statement.
Wan Azizah also urged all Malaysians to care for the poor, sick, marginalised
and those in need of shelter.
CM ‘gifts’ non-Muslim houses of worship RM50m for Christmas
Dec 24 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg in his Christmas message
today said the state government remains committed to foster religious unity and
understanding among people of different religions and races.
said the commitment is not merely in words but also in deeds, as more funds
have been allocated to other religions through the Unit for Other Religions
(Unifor) to assist them in building or carrying out repairs to their houses of
Johari said the state government has allocated RM20 million this year and RM30
million next year to Unifor.
state government will continue to provide the funds so that everyone can
benefit from it in the future,” he said in his Christmas message.
Johari said festive celebrations started a few weeks ago when Christmas parades
were held in various towns and cities in Sarawak.
beauty of it for us in Sarawak is that people of other religions also share in
the joy and festivities as this has been our practice all the while,” he said,
adding that Sarawakians are like brothers and sisters who have much respect for
one another’s culture and religion.
Johari said in some parts of Sarawak, there are Christian and Muslim families
that stay together under the same roof without any issue.
are also Muslim and Christian places of worship that happen to be neighbours,
and even share car parks on Fridays and Sundays, staying true to the spirit of
brotherhood and camaraderie among us Sarawakians.
are able to stay together and religions do not create walls between us because
we believe that based on the belief that your religion is your religion and my
religion is my religion,” he said.
chief minister expressed hope that in the spirit of Christmas that Christians
will continue to pray that the people of Sarawak will have the strength and
courage to be people who are free to decide their own destiny and not to be too
dependent on the assistance of others.
Syed Jaymal Zahiid
LUMPUR, Dec 23 — A PAS lawmaker reiterated today his party’s offer to form a
so-called unity government with any party willing to cooperate in what it
described as a viable political platform that could offer stability.
Nerus MP Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the idea of a new political
bloc comprising PAS was timely in light of the growing disquiet within Pakatan
Harapan, which has come under fire because its leaders continue to bicker
added that the political crisis dogging the ruling coalition have affected the
economy and prevented effective governance.
instability begets economic instability,” he said in a statement.
it’s time to look at an alternative political platform to solve the
instability, one of a unity government proposed by the PAS president in 2008.
is ready to help!”
Islamists secretly negotiated with Umno just after the 12th general election
results were announced in 2008 to form a “unity government” in a bid to
safeguard Malay-Muslim political dominance, after the opposition at the time
made significant electoral gains.
is no longer in power and had its federal seat tally greatly reduced after over
a dozen of its MPs quit the party; Umno now has 37 parliament seats, down from
54 won in the 14th general election.
won 19 federal seats in the May 9 polls.
it is uncertain as to who Khairuddin was referring to when he suggested the
unity government today, but it could be an offer to Parti Pribumi Bersatu
Malaysia, which he said PAS had no qualms co-operating with in the name of
Muslim interest and unity.
with Umno as opposition must be strengthened,” he said.
JAYA, Dec 24 — The amendments made to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce)
(Amendment) Act, which came into effect on December 15, mean any divorce of a
marriage solemnised in a civil registry must be resolved in the civil court
even if one of the spouses has converted to Islam.
Star reported that the latest amendments clearly outline that civil marriages
must be settled in the civil court.
law practitioner Goh Siu Lin told the paper that the amendments to the law
ensure that the civil court will have sole jurisdiction if a marriage was
solemnised under civil law.
ancillary to the divorce must also be resolved there,” she said.
explained that other reforms in the law include more clarity under Section 51A,
which relates to the distribution of the assets of a spouse after he or she has
converted before the non-Muslim marriage of said person is dissolved.
51 (A1) states that when a person who has converted to Islam dies before the
non-Muslim marriage has been dissolved that person’s matrimonial assets shall
be distributed by the court among interested parties in accordance with the
provisions under the section upon application by any interested party.
party or parties are defined as the surviving spouse and children of the
marriage if any, and the parents of the deceased converted spouse,” she reportedly
also said extending the legal obligation to maintain a child beyond 18 years
old until the completion of their higher education was a much-needed reform.
to the law also acknowledged the non-financial contribution of a spouse in looking
after the home or caring for the family and will be a factor in determining a
fair division of matrimonial assets under Section 76 of the Act, which details
the court’s power to order a division of matrimonial assets.
family law practitioner Honey Tan told The Star that children and wives are the
biggest beneficiaries of the reforms.
added that wives, who were awarded custody of their children after their
divorces, faced financial difficulties in providing education for their
children after they had turned 18.
ensures parents, especially fathers, will have to maintain their children until
they complete their further or higher education or training.
the amendments are retrospective, it is important for parties of ongoing
divorces to know that these amendments apply to their cases.
rescuers raced to find survivors Monday after a volcano-triggered tsunami
killed at least 281 people, with experts warning the devastated region could be
slammed by more deadly waves.
teams used their bare hands, diggers and other heavy equipment to haul debris
from the stricken area around the Sunda Strait, as thousands were evacuated to
powerful tsunami struck without any warning on Saturday night, sweeping over
popular beaches of southern Sumatra and the western tip of Java and inundating
tourist hotels and coastal settlements.
than 1,000 people were injured and the death toll “will continue to rise”, said
disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.
of buildings were destroyed by the wave that left a tangled mess of corrugated
steel roofing, timber and rubble at Carita beach, a popular spot for
day-trippers on the west coast of Java.
military and police are searching the ruins to see if we can find more
victims,” said Dody Ruswandi, a senior official at the disaster agency, adding
that the rescue effort was likely to last a week.
devastated Sukarame village, Sunarti waded through knee-deep water as she
searched for belongings outside her destroyed house — and waited for aid to
been no help at all so far,” the 61-year-told AFP from the flattened hamlet.
“Some people are starving.”
president Joko Widodo visited the area Monday.
was the third major natural disaster to strike Indonesia in the space of six
months, following a series of powerful earthquakes on the island of Lombok in
July and August and a quake-tsunami in September that killed around 2,200
people in Palu on Sulawesi island, with thousands more missing and presumed
vast archipelago nation is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth due
to its position straddling the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic
the water coming'
say Saturday's tsunami was likely triggered by a massive underwater landslide
following an eruption of the Anak Krakatoa volcano in the Sunda Strait.
those caused by earthquakes, which trigger alert systems, such tsunamis give
authorities very little time to warn residents of the impending threat.
happened very quickly,” said survivor Ade Junaedi. “I was chatting with a guest
at our place when my wife opened the door and she suddenly screamed in panic. I
thought there was a fire, but when I walked to the door I saw the water
Teeuw, a geohazard expert from the University of Portsmouth in England, said
the eruption and landslide may well have destabilised the volcano, heightening
the risk of another tsunami.
likelihood of further tsunamis in the Sunda Strait will remain high while Anak
Krakatoa volcano is going through its current active phase because that might
trigger further submarine landslides,”
said. Dramatic video posted on social media showed a wall of water suddenly
crashing into a concert by pop group “Seventeen” — hurling band members off the
stage and then flooding into the audience.
band members were killed along with its manager, while three others, including
the lead singer's wife, are missing.
man Riefian Fajarsyah posted a picture online of he and his wife kissing in
Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
is your birthday — I want wish you a happy birthday in person. Come home soon,
honey,” he wrote in the caption of the photo, which was posted Sunday.
Krakatoa, which forms a small island in the Sunda Strait between Java and
Sumatra, emerged around 1928 in the crater left by Krakatoa, whose massive
eruption in 1883 killed at least 36,000 people and affected global weather
patterns for years.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the
“powerful waves” reached a height of 30-90 centimetres (1-3 feet).
fifty years on, scars of liberation movement yet to heal in Bangladesh
(Bangladesh): Captain Tajul Islam was one of the Pakistani army officers to
join the Mukti Bahini before the Bangladesh liberation war. Today, he is
seeking re-election from Brahmanbaria 6, a rural constituency where he says
most people dream of government jobs.
BNP candidate lost to me by 54,000 votes in 2008. This time, I want to win by
over 1 lakh,” he said.
the mighty Meghna in a packed ferry, we are greeted by election rallies in the
hamlets of Bancharampur and Jagannathpur. The people have been waiting for the
Captain who has promised to avoid the traffic jams on the roads to take a helicopter
to these areas. But other Awami League leaders are there to lead the crowds,
build the chorus of “nowka, nowka” and roar with approval when the speaker from
the podium asks them whether they would support a Mukti Bahini man or a Razakar.
people are poor, you can think of numerous local issues that should be on top
of their minds — certainly a bridge over the Meghna, better roads to nearby
Narayanganj would be up there — yet the main election issue harks back to the
war of liberation.
will turn 50 in 2021, but the scars of its bloody independence movement have
not yet healed. “It is the unfinished business of our liberation,” said an
activist. In elegant drawing rooms, even think tank scholars think nothing of
entertaining guests with home-made documentaries of 1971. As PM Sheikh Hasina
said, after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, Bangladesh saw 19
coups, military dictatorships and martial law, until 1996.
Awami League’s understanding of that period, the genocide, the massacres are
different from the BNP’s version, which casts the late Gen Ziaur Rehman in the
stellar role, downgrading the actions of Sheikh Mujib. in the past five years,
Hasina has doggedly pursued war crimes trials, sending to the gallows many of
the worst perpetrators and collaborators (called Razakars),
courting some controversy in the west.
fact, her government has been asking Pakistan to apologise for its army’s
excesses during that period. Even in today’s Bangladesh, Pakistan and its
deadly intelligence agency, ISI, are regarded as the bad guys. “Before the
elections, ISI has upped its activities, trying to influence our elections,”
said a journalist who has been following these events. “We expect more violence
in the days before the elections.” Officials said there have been over 100
violent incidents in the past few weeks.
BNP years, on the other hand, saw a very different reading of Bangladesh’s
history. Even recently, Jamaat-e-Islami, the extremist core of the BNP, openly
advocates re-alignment with Pakistan. However, in a sign that perceptions about
India may be changing, BNP officials said they had “toned down” criticism of
India during the campaigns this time. BNP leaders allege attacks by Awami
League activists at their rallies and offices, forcing them off the streets in
many areas. Despite that, their exhortation to their supporters is to stage a
“vote revolution” on December 30 to remove Hasina from power.
election analysts in Dhaka reckon the BNP — despite the general sense that they
have not got their act together —will do well in the border areas where they
are stronger, particularly in Chittagong, Khulna, Rangpur, Sylhet etc. Awami
League is hoping that its pan-Bangladesh presence, which has improved vastly in
the past decade when BNP was out of the equation, will stand them in good
League leaders acknowledge an anti-incumbency sentiment. Therefore, the focus
on the liberation war helps them to focus on existential issues rather than
answer on bread-and-butter concerns.
up, our history books never told us about the war of liberation and what our country
and our people actually went through,” said Kalyan, who grew up when Ziaur
Rehman and Hussain Muhammad Ershad strode the Bangladesh stage. History books
have changed since then, but it will be a while before closure is achieved.
This uncertainty hovers over Bangladesh’s otherwise impressive growth in almost
all economic and social indicators, in many respects ahead of India.
in Brahmanbaria, Tajul Islam is reminding his voters that he was one of the
earliest to come into Bangladesh via Sri Lanka, the first to host a Vijay Diwas
to celebrate Bangladesh’s victory. And the speaker from the podium shouts, “And
we are grateful to our Indian friends for helping us during our war of
liberation.” In a district bordering Tripura, this is significant — Hasina
recently allowed India to ship the heavy components of the Palatana power plant
from Kolkata to Tripura via Ashuganj river port on the Meghna river, cutting
time and costs.
Taliban have attached conditions to talks with the Kabul government that also
include cancellation of a security agreement signed with United States to keep
a limited number of troops in the country.
and the US had signed the Bilateral Security Agreement or BSA to allow around
10,000 military service members in Afghanistan to train and advise Afghan
had long been refusing to hold talks with the Kabul administration on the plea
that it is a party to the conflict and has no powers to make decisions.
US is the real party to the war and the Kabul regime is part of the American
side and has no separate status. The power centre is the US embassy and command
of the foreign forces and not the presidential palace and that is why the
Islamic Emirate held talks with the US and asked them to quit Afghanistan,” a
Taliban commentary said.
the Kabul administration wants to reach an understanding with the Islamic
Emirate, it should first immediately scrap the bilateral security agreement
with the US, and tell the Americans to leave Afghanistan, tender apology for
the crimes committed by foreigners and their local allies since their invasion
and signing the BSA and hand over the cases to the Islamic court of national
traitors for their crimes against humanity,” the commentary said.
special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who led the US side in two-day talks with the
Taliban leaders in the United Arab Emirate on December 17-18, also slammed the
Taliban for refusing to meet Afghan negotiators, which were also attended by
security, military and intelligence officials from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and
Minister Imran Khan and other officials had taken credit for facilitating the
talks in UAE but could not succeed to convince the Taliban meet Afghans.
Pakistani officials insist reconciliation is an Afghan affair and bringing the
Taliban to the table is a shared responsibility of all countries, which have
contacts with the Taliban political office.
Taliban on Sunday expressed doubts about the US move to hold talks with the
US role, to a large extent, is seemed to be dubious and contradictory as on one
side Zalmay Khalilzad had been involved in talks with the Islamic Emirate over
the past few months and also paid visits to different countries, but on the
other the US has intensified the war with airstrikes and ground operations. The
NATO chief and the US chairman of the joint chiefs of the staff committee are
saying they will not withdraw troops and to extend invasion,” the Taliban said
on website on Sunday.
Taliban commentary said the US coming to the table is their political success
and that end to the on-going war through political debate and negotiations will
not be easy as it is expected but it needs deep thinking and detailed
discussions. Defence experts in Afghanistan say Taliban cannot win the war even
if the US withdraw most of the remaining troops as Afghan security forces are
capable of resisting the Taliban. Shah Nawaz Tanai, who briefly served as
defence minister during the communist regime, told Daily Times that the Afghan
army and other forces can defend the present system despite the fact that the
US and its NATO allies have not given heavy weapons to the Afghan forces.
vast majority of Afghans also favour the democratic system and political
governments and majority do not accept the Taliban,” he said from Kabul where
has leads a political party. Talking about the US decision to withdraw half of
the troops, Tanai said the move could be an attempt to encourage the Taliban
strike a peace deal. He however said if the Taliban did not reach a deal then
war could be intensified in Afghanistan.
achieve real results, diplomatic initiatives must be taken with great urgency
and a clear strategy given Myanmar’s continued non-cooperation in this regard,
diplomatic initiatives are essential for speedy resolution of the ongoing
Rohingya issue, experts said.
achieve real results, diplomatic initiatives must be taken with great urgency
and a clear strategy given Myanmar’s continued non-cooperation in this regard,
made the call at a round-table on the “Rohingya Crisis: Bangladesh and Global
Response,” organized by the Dhaka Tribune at a hotel in Dhaka on Sunday.
Munier, a migration and refugee affairs specialist, said: “We’re just talking
about a local solution, but the role of the regional forces, including Malaysia
and Indonesia, is questionable.”
majority countries also need to step forward to help end the crisis, he
appraisal of Bangladesh for handling the Rohingya crisis is not enough since
there is a massive demand for international cooperation to address it,” he
political initiatives too, in this case are not satisfactory, Asif said, adding
there are no international talks concerning the matter.
analyst Maj Gen (retd) Abdur Rashid said the issue is getting more complicated
with each passing day.
and Russia are pressuring Bangladesh to settle the issue bilaterally with
Myanmar, he said.
the other hand, Bangladesh would prefer to fix it multi-laterally, leading to a
confusion regarding which path to take,” he said.
is showing reluctance in helping to resolve the problem since Myanmar is one of
its major economic partners, the former army official said.
is not the only country to be affected by the problem. It will become a threat
to other South Asian countries as well, he warned.
of South Asia must engage in the process as diplomatic efforts to end the
crisis are becoming a failure he said, questioning: “How long will Bangladesh
face the problem?”
University Professor Abul Mansur Ahmed said the Rohingya issue is no longer a
problem for Bangladesh alone. “It is a global issue now.”
country has tried solving the crisis both bilaterally and multi-laterally, but
challenges keep surfacing. Russia and China defending Myanmar is making things
tougher,” he said.
are Saudi Arabia and the OIC doing to this end?” he asked, calling for mounting
international pressure on Myanmar for a judicious repatriation of the Rohingya.
warned that the problem may turn so severe that India, Asean, and other bodies
and countries backing Myanmar will one day realize that it is their problem
Masud Khan, head of programs of UK-based Channel STV, said Myanmar’s de facto leader,
Aung San Suu Kyi, can still help resolve the problem.
she has no intention to do so,” he said.
Bartlett, editor of Asian Affairs magazine, said the US, UK, EU, and aid
agencies, are regularly keeping the issue on their agenda.
DELHI: Bangladesh observed 47th anniversary of ‘Martyred Intellectuals Day’ on December
14 by paying tribute to the intellectuals and professionals who were massacred on
this day in 1971 by the Pakistani occupation forces with the help of local collaborators,mainly
Jamaat, reminding horrors ahead of December 30 elections.
December 14, 1971 as the liberation war was nearing its end and victory of Bangladesh
became imminent, leading Bengali intellectuals and professionals including professors,
doctors, engineers, journalists, writers, artists, teachers and other eminent personalities
were picked up from their houses and blindfolded before being taken to torture
cells where they were executed en masse in brush fire at Rayerbazar and Mirpur.
horrors of December 14, 1971 are the main focus of the ongoing trial of war
crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangladesh. Leading Jamaat figures now
stand accused of masterminding brutal killing of intellectuals that occurred
only two days before the Pakistani occupation forces surrendered on December
14 is a day that marks not only one of the darkest chapters in the history of Bangladesh
but the world’s as well. It is hard to think of a similar incident anywhere in
the world where intellectuals were systematically rounded up and methodically
annihilated to crush the backbone of a nation. In recent times a few among the
known collaborators have been tried and executed, but the people of the country
are yet to see any signs of guilt or remorse in them.
fact intellectuals and professionals were killed throughout nine months of the
liberation war, but the largest number of execution of intellectuals in one
daytook place on December 14. This is why the day is observed as ‘Martyred
Intellectuals Day’ in Bangladesh.
recently executed Jamaat leaders including its chief Matiur Rahman Nizami who
was then President of Jamaat student front Islami Chhatra Sangha andAli Ahsan
Muhammad Mojahid, then chief of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Sangha along with
their Razakar/alBadr/al Shams cohorts committed the most horrendous crimes and
murders to crush the liberation war. The motive was to intellectually cripple
the yet-to-be born Bengali nation and deprive it of able leadership. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid was second in command
of the infamous al Badr, an auxiliary force of the Pak army. It was he who orchestrated
massacre of the front line intellectuals and professionals, hours from the
independence in 1971. According to a
report published in the vernacular daily Purbodesh of January 9, 1972
Ashrafuzzaman Khan, a Jamaat leader and Commander of al Badr militia and killer
of intellectuals of Bangladesh, fled the country in 1972. He went to Pakistan
and worked for Radio Pakistan for quite some time before taking shelter in US.
After the liberation, Ashrafuzzaman's personal diary was recovered from his
residence. Two pages of his diary registered names and residential addresses of
some teachers and medical officers of Dhaka University who were killed by him.
He has been tried in absentia and sentenced to death for the war crimes
committed in 1971. Now he is living inNew York for more than three decades and
presently he heads the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
al Badr commander who played a key role in killing of intellectuals in Dhaka in
1971 was Chaudhury Mueen Uddin who is now Vice Chairman of East London Mosque
and presently heads the British charity ‘Muslim Aid’ which has an annualbudget
of over 20 million Pound. Mueen Uddin, who was a journalist of the daily
Purbodesh in Dhaka, was at the forefront of anti-liberation activities perpetrating
atrocities on the freedom fighters. He rounded up, tortured and killed many
prominent citizens to deprive the soon-to-beborn state of its intellectual and
government of Iran is funding the construction of a faculty in Kabul University
dedicated mainly to the studies of ‘Persian Language’, it has been reported.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in this regarding between Cultural
attaché at the Iranian embassy in Kabul Mohammadreza Maleki and the Chancellor
of Kabul University and Adviser Minister to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on
Higher Education Hamidullah Farooqi.
construction of the faculty of Persian Language and Literature is planned to
start from March 2019, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.
source further added that during the signing ceremony, the Iranian cultural
attaché donated 2,300 textbook titles to Kabul University, stressing that the
cooperation will continue in the future.
books are related to studies on humanities, anthropology, literature, social
sciences, economics, management, and computers, the report stated.
in November, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined that his
country will make its utmost efforts to help the Afghan government to
successfully hold peace talks in the country.
Army Chief Backs Imran Khan's Peace Initiatives Towards India
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has backed Prime Minister Imran
Khan's peace initiatives, saying the new government has extended a hand of
peace and friendship towards India with utmost sincerity but it should not be
taken as Islamabad's weakness.
the passing out parade of Midshipmen and Short Service Course at the Naval
Academy in Karachi on Saturday, Bajwa said that Pakistan was "a peace
loving country and believes in peace".
the efforts of Prime Minister Khan's government to achieve peace between
Pakistan and India, the army chief said peace benefits everyone and it is time
to fight disease, poverty and illiteracy instead of fighting against each
new government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with
utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as our weakness," Bajwa said.
powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 71 years, has
always wielded considerable power in the matters of foreign policy.
India-Pak ties strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists
in 2016 and India's surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The ties
further nose-dived in 2017 with no bilateral talks talking place between them.
deadly skirmishes along the Line of Control and diplomatic bickering for better
part of 2018, the consensus on both sides to open the Kartarpur corridor for
Indian Sikh pilgrims has created a ray of hope for improvement in India-Pak
bring death, destruction and misery for the people. Ultimately all issues are
resolved on the table through negotiations that is why we are trying very hard
to help bring a lasting peace in Afghanistan by supporting Afghan-led and
Afghan-owned peace plan," Bajwa said.
also warned that Pakistan is yet to get out from terrorism or sabotage phase of
an unannounced war against it.
the terrorists before; the protagonists of the new threats are at times, our
own people. Mostly misguided by ambitions, blinded by hate, ethnicity or
religion or simply overawed by social media onslaught, some of our own boys and
girls readily fall victim to such dangerous or hostile narratives," Bajwa
to hybrid warfare, the army chief said information and modern technology has
changed the nature of warfare now being waged and has tilted the balance in
favour of those nations that have embraced the change readily.
frankly speaking, even that will not be sufficient as the ever-increasing
threat of hybrid war, to which we are subjected to, will need a totally new
approach and change of traditional mindset," he said.
future military leaders to prepare themselves for the threats they will face,
Bajwa said that they should be able to "gauge the enemies latest moves and
be ready to respond, even when a surgical strike exists only in cognitive
domain or media or even when the attack comes, not in the battlefield but in
cyber space, or against country's ideological frontiers."
response to such onslaughts or threats cannot always be kinetic in
nature," he said, adding that a superior narrative needs to be propagated
to deal with attacks in the cognitive domain.
of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Saturday said India should not
take Pakistan’s hand of friendship as its weakness.
government has extended a hand of peace and friendship towards India with
utmost sincerity but it should not be taken as our weakness … peace benefits
everybody,” the COAS said while speaking at the passing out parade of 110th
Midshipmen and 19th Short Service Course held at the Naval Academy Karachi. “It
is time to fight hunger, disease and illiteracy, not to fight with each other,”
Bajwa said wars bring death, destruction and misery for the people.
“Ultimately, all issues are resolved on the table through negotiations,” he
said, adding that the relative peace present in the country today has been
achieved after tremendous sacrifices. “It is now our duty to honour those
sacrifices through display of unity, faith and discipline in everything that we
do. Let us all start the transition from conflict to progress, through
commitment to the ideals of Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam. This is the minimum
that we can do for our beautiful country,” he said.
army chief said that the country’s young cadets should take the country along
the lines of developmental perspective rather than a security perspective.
“Survival in the difficult times has given us the confidence that we have the
will and capacity to endure. Nobody can threaten us or our freedom. It is time
we fulfill our dreams and make Pakistan a great country,” he remarked.
COAS reminded the cadets that the country is yet to get out from terrorism and
an unannounced war. “Like the terrorists before, the protagonists of the new
threats are, at times, our own people. Mostly misguided by ambitions, blinded
by hate, ethnicity or religion or simply overawed by social media onslaught,
some of our own boys and girls readily fall victim to such dangerous or hostile
narratives,” he added.
response to such onslaughts or threats cannot always be kinetic in nature. You
will have to deal with them in cognitive domain by producing or propagating a
superior narrative, but this can only happen if you have developed the ability
to handle unwarranted criticism with patience and possess better intellectual
skills to respond to such threats with logic and reasoning,” he remarked.
the future military leaders to prepare themselves for the threats they will
face, Gen Bajwa added that they should be able to gauge the enemy’s latest
moves and be ready to respond even when a ‘surgical strike’ exists only in the
enemy’s imagination or when threats appear in cyberspace and not the
traditional battlefield or threaten the ‘country’s ideological frontiers’.
to hybrid warfare, the army chief stated that information and modern technology
has changed the nature of warfare now being waged and has tilted the balance in
favour of those nations that have embraced the change readily. “But frankly
speaking, even that will not be sufficient as the ever increasing threat of
hybrid war, to which we are subjected to, will need a totally new approach and
change of traditional mindset.”
the parade, the army chief emphasised that “your behaviour must be exemplary at
all times as one lapse may lead to embarrassment for the whole unit.” Speaking
on leadership, he said the “armed forces are meant to lead.” “You will be
required to lead your troops into the battlefield with full zeal and
confidence,” he said, adding that their values will be echoed by those who
said learning is a continuous process and “this is just the beginning, so be
mentally ready for much more rigorous training ahead.” “As defenders of
Pakistan’s maritime frontiers, you are expected, not only to live up to its
glorious traditions but also set much higher standards for your successors,” he
the occasion, Gen Bajwa also reiterated that Pakistan is trying hard to achieve
lasting peace in Afghanistan and lauded the government’s efforts of achieving
peace between Pakistan and bordering India. He said Pakistan supports
Afghan-led peace efforts to help bring lasting stability to the neighbouring
the COAS reviewed the parade and gave away prizes to the distinguished
performers. The prestigious ‘Quaid-e-Azam Gold Medal’ was conferred upon
Lieutenant Haris Ali Khan PN. Midshipman Tauqeer Hussain was awarded the
coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ for his overall best performance, whereas Midshipman
Haroon Khan won the ‘Academy’s Dirk’.
Cadet Talha Masood was awarded ‘Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gold
Medal’, Officer Cadet Ahmed Mohammed Alamri from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earned
‘Chief of the Naval Staff Gold Medal’ and Officer Cadet Ahmed Naveed Malik from
SSC Course clinched the ‘Commandant Gold Medal’. ‘Proficiency Banner’ was
re-claimed by the Forecastle Squadron.
The federal government has asked the World Bank to close an education project
in Sindh since it suffered from delays in disbursement and had partially
achieved its objective of increasing enrolment in schools.
the federal government’s request, the World Bank has initiated the process for
cancellation of the project that was to support the second phase of the Sindh
government’s ‘Second Sindh Education Sector Reform Programme’.
development objective was to raise school participation by improving sector
governance and accountability and strengthening administrative systems, and
measure student achievement.
World Bank report said that the overall progress towards project development
objectives was moderately satisfactory, that reflected an increased number of
basic quality standard schools from 992 in 2015-16 to 1,336 by November 2018,
and increased annual transition rate from Class V to VI from 58.1 per cent to
69.2pc in 2017. The increased annual transition rate was targeted to be from
Class I to II before the project closing.
report said implementation had accelerated since mid-2018 and the disbursement
linked indicator (DLI) amounting to $10.4m was achieved in September 2018.
However, it added, since the project suffered from delays in disbursement, the
government decided to close it without seeking further extension. The closing
date for the project was Dec 31, 2018, whereas the project was due to be
completed during 2013-17 period.
International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank group had
approved a soft loan of $400m for the project in March 2013. So far, $321.4m
had been disbursed while the undisbursed amount remained to be $49.7m. The
total cost of the project was $2,600, including the IDA loan of $400 million.
indicators set for the project were to increase net enrolment rate for primary
school children aged between six and 10 years; middle school children aged 11
to 13 years; high school students aged 14 to 15 years; and annual
administration of the students’ achievement test in Class V and VIII in
DELHI: A Pakistani national Imran Warsi, who was imprisoned in India, has been
released after serving 10 years in Bhopal jail over suspicion of forging
documents and spying for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the premier
intelligence agency of Pakistan, according to diplomatic sources.
the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has been informed ahead of final
arrangements for his repatriation to Pakistan on December 26 at Wagah Border,
where he will be handed over to Pakistani authorities.
his jail time ended in January this year, however, he was not released as he
could not clear his outstanding fine.
to sources, Warsi travelled from Karachi to Kolkata in 2004 to marry the girl
he loved, his cousin. In a video released, he said that his wife and children
have been residing in India and he would seek assistance from Pakistani
authorities for their immigration to his homeland.
A senior Taliban was killed in the aftermath of a United States (US) drone
strike in Afghanistan’s Pakita province on Sunday.
to a local media outlet, terrorist Saifullah, along with two of his close
aides, was killed as a drone strike targeted his hideout in Paktika province’s
on Saturday, at least four militants were killed in a drone strike in the
western Farah province of Afghanistan, Khaama Press reported.
Afghan Military released a statement stating that a vehicle, a PKM machine gun,
a sniper rifle, and 3 Ak-47 rifles were also destroyed in the drone strike
which was carried out in the vicinity of Bakwa district.
a joint operation by Afghan and US Special Forces at the Sargardan Chowk in
Orgon Bazaar of Helmand province in the early days of December this year had
killed another senior Taliban commander and two of his deputy commanders along
with 27 others.
taxpayers are funding prosecutions in Pakistan that have led to dozens of death
sentences, according to newly disclosed details of a secretive UK aid
programme, The Guardian reported.
documents reveal that the UK Foreign Office is supporting specialist civilian
courts that prosecute terrorist suspects in what the UK government’s global
security strategy calls a “rule of law” programme in Pakistan.
reveal that the UK government has supported the project since 2016, during
which time the courts have handed down 59 death sentences, some of which are
likely to be unsafe convictions.
parliamentary response last week said the UK government had spent £10.39
million on the Pakistan programme, the bulk of the money – £9.32m – coming from
the overseas aid budget.
strand of the project, the “counter terrorism associated prosecutorial reforms
initiative” (Capri) “aims to increase Pakistan’s civilian capacity to
investigate, detain, prosecute and try terrorists in line with international
standards and human rights norms”. However legal charity Reprieve says it is
impossible for the UK support civilian terrorism courts in Pakistan in
accordance with international law because the courts do not meet recognised
for Reprieve say death sentences are imposed for offences such as kidnapping,
despite international law prohibiting the death sentence for anything but
anti-terrorism act defines terrorism as any crime or threat designed to create
a “sense of fear or insecurity in society” – leading to prosecutions of people
who have no connection with extremism.
UN Human Rights Committee said last year that it “remains concerned by the very
broad definition of terrorism” and “absence of procedural safeguards”. Critics
also say Pakistan’s civilian courts do not meet due-process safeguards for
issuing death sentences that are required by international law.
the Foreign Office began funding Capri, the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan’s death penalty database shows courts sentenced 31 people to death in
2016, 18 in 2017 and so far 10 this year.
case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row for
blasphemy before being acquitted in October, has provoked fresh scrutiny on
Pakistan’s human rights record. Harriet McCulloch, the deputy director of
Reprieve, said: “It is deeply troubling that Britain is assisting in the
investigation and prosecution of crimes that carry the death penalty in
Pakistan, particularly as those crimes are being tried in courts that do not
uphold basic standards of due process and where the rates of wrongful
conviction are alarmingly high.
the last three years, British taxpayers have spent £10m supporting a legal
system that convicts and sentences people to death for alleged crimes that
often have nothing to do with terrorism.”
UN report, by its Committee against Torture, has criticised Pakistan’s
anti-terror laws for allowing confessions made in police custody to be admitted
by Reprieve and the Islamabad-based Foundation for Fundamental Rights of nearly
300 reported Pakistan supreme court judgments handed down between 2010 and 2017
found that death sentences were overturned in 77 per cent of cases. From 2015
to the end of 2017, this increased to 81 per cent.
year the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty in 8 per cent of its reported capital
cases, overturning the capital conviction or ordering a review in 92 per cent
of capital cases.
growing pressure for the UK government to disclose more details about work
carried out under its global security programme it remains reluctant to comment
on the issue. On Tuesday the Pakistan rule-of-law programme was raised in the
House of Commons by shadow foreign minister Helen Goodman who asked if a
human-rights risk assessment had been carried out on the project.
government’s response was redacted on “security grounds”.
UK’s rule-of-law programme in Pakistan is a joint project of the Department for
International Development, Foreign Office, the Ministry of Defence, National
Crime Agency, Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service.
added: “The UK government has said this programme is compliant with human
rights. It’s difficult to see how that can be, and as ministers refuse to
publish the human-rights risk assessments behind this funding, it is impossible
to be sure that Britain is not complicit in grave abuses.”
Foreign Office spokesman said: “Our programmes in Pakistan have supported the
reform of the criminal justice system and we are confident it has been
delivered in a way that is consistent with our opposition to the death penalty.
alumni of India’s Aligarh Muslim University win awards
UAE-based alumni of India’s prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) were
among the winners in the first-ever global awards for AMU alumni, held in Dubai
of the total 17 winners in the Sir Syed Global Excellence and Leadership Awards
2018 were AMU graduates based in the UAE, including Tariq Chauhan, Group CEO of
EFS Facilities Services Group, who won the ‘CEO Global Award’ category.
awards are named after AMU founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
ceremony was organised by UAE-based Vertex Events, which plans to hold the
awards every year in various international locations.
Agha, managing director of Vertex Events, told Gulf News: “This is the first
event held to recognise AMU alumni who have excelled in their field. Leading
establishments such as Forbes and Harvard University have awards for their
alumni. AMU is a prestigious institution that is almost 100 years old, but our
alumni are mostly spread around the world. So this event will bring them
together and recognise their achievements on an international platform.”
himself an AMU engineering alumni from the 1998 graduating batch, added that
alumni flew in from the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and India for
500 alumni and guests attended the event, which included a panel discussion on
education and gala dinner.
Saturday’s winners were Hamid Ansari, former vice-president of India
(administration excellence); US businessman Dr Frank Islam (philanthropist
excellence); and Indian filmmaker Anubhav Sinha (filmmaker award).
Islam, who is of Indian origin, recently donated $3 million (around Dh11
million) to AMU for a new complex for business management studies, Agha said.
lifetime achievement award went to AMU chancellor Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin,
whose representative from India collected the award on his behalf. The AMU
chancellor and vice-chancellor are appointed by the President of India.
guests included AMU vice-chancellor Professor Tariq Mansoor, who presented a
keynote address at the gathering. Mansoor said he was pleased with the grants
support extended to AMU by the central government in India, adding that new
courses and a new building would be added to AMU. Mansoor also plans to discuss
AMU’s agreements with American University in UAE and University of Sharjah
during his visit.
special guests included former AMU vice-chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, a retired
lieutenant general of the Indian Arm. He was among the panellists in a
discussion on education at the event, moderated by senior India journalist
Rifat Jawaid. Other panellists included Chauhan and Syed Ali Rizvi from the US
tech firm Resolv corporation.
a land of atrocities against minorities: Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
BJP Sunday lashed out at Pakistan Prime Minster Imran Khan over his barb at
India on treatment of minorities, terming his country “a land of atrocities
against minorities” who have been “persecuted” there since its birth in 1947.
Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi used a Hindi proverb and described Khan’s
comments as a case of a cat going on a pilgrimage after eating 100 mice (Sau
chuhe khake bill Haj ko chali).
hard-hitting remarks against Pakistan, Naqvi said that number of minorities
like Hindus, Sikhs and Christians have fallen by almost 90 per cent in that
country since its birth in 1947 as they were hounded by Islamic fundamentalists
in collusion with its government..
Pakistan, where minorities were killed, forced to convert or persecuted out of
the country, in India they have grown and are an equal partner in development,
Naqvi asserted. In the neighbouring country, minorities are barely two to three
per cent of its population, he said.
Khan, Naqvi named a number of popular Indian artists, including Yusuf Khan
better known as Dilip Kumar, and Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, and
noted that generations of Indians have admired them.
Imran Khan name a single Pakistani artiste who has come from a minority
community and been liked as much as these actors are in India,” Naqvi said.
Union minister also had a word of advice for veteran Indian actor Naseeruddin
Shah, whose comments expressing concern over mob violence in the country were
seized upon by Imran Khan to claim on Saturday that he will show the Indian
government how to treat minorities.
Shah should also consider that such a sweeping statement that is also factually
incorrect causes a lot of harm and is used by anti-India forces to target our
country,” Naqvi said.
had cited the murder of a police inspector in Uttar Pradesh’s Bulandshahr by a
mob protesting alleged slaughter of cow to express his concern.
Pakistan, Naqvi said, “It is a land of atrocities against minorities. It is a
land where the blood of minorities have been spilled over the decades. For it
to lecture us on minority rights is a case of a cat going on a pilgrimage after
eating 100 mice.”
DELHI: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent statement on "showing"
the Narendra Modi government "how to treat minorities" has evoked
stern reactions from various political leaders in India.
from across political parties lashed out at Imran Khan, saying that the
Pakistan PM should first mend the affairs of his own country before sermonizing
of state Giriraj Singh reminded Pakistan about its declining Hindu population
and asked Islamabad to mind its own affairs.
मिहंदू23% सेघट के
2% हो गए और
मुसलमान 8% सेबढ़कर 20% हो गए ....अब पा…
Shandilya Giriraj Singh (@girirajsinghbjp) 1545537864000
a press conference, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra also slammed Khan,
saying that he can "surely teach Congress a lot. After all, the party
considers the nation angelic".
is 'terroristan'. It gave shelter to (Osama Bin) Laden. It need not teach us
anything," he said.
chief Asaduddin Owaisi too had a word of advice for the Pakistan premier.
to the Pakistani Constitution, only a Muslim is qualified to be President.
India has seen multiple Presidents from oppressed communities. It is high time
Khan sahab learns something from us about inclusive politics & minority
rights," he wrote in a tweet.
affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, in a hard-hitting reply, said that number
of minorities like Hindus, Sikhs and Christians have fallen by almost 90 per
cent in that country since its birth in 1947 as they were hounded by Islamic fundamentalists
in collusion with its government.
Pakistan, where minorities were killed, forced to convert or persecuted out of
the country, in India, they have grown and are an equal partners in development,
Naqvi asserted. In the neighbouring country, minorities are barely two to three
per cent of its population, he said.
Imran Khan name a single Pakistani artiste who has come from a minority
community and been liked as much as these actors are in India," Naqvi
Sabha MP Rakesh Sinha termed Khan's remark a case of "pot calling the
@ImranKhanPTI ,entire world knows Hindus have been reduced from 23 percent to
less than 1 percent in a span of… https://t.co/oy7PhEfHeU
Prof Rakesh Sinha (@RakeshSinha01) 1545542832000
leader and Delhi MLA, Majinder Singh Sirsa, tweeted a news report on atrocities
committed against the Sikh community in Pakistan and said that Khan should
first read the report before "preaching".
community in Pakistan fears its life in your country, Imran Khan. Kindly read
the news link before you preach," he tweeted.
comment was heavily panned on social media as well.
please send a big mirror to Imran Khan. Persecuting Ahmadis, Hindus, Shias,
Balochs...for decades. Stop that first. If some of us are concerned about
certain happenings here doesn’t mean we are persecuting and killing minorities
like you have been doing," a Twitter user wrote.
Twitter user asked Khan to rectify his country's notorious blasphemy law, which
carries a death sentence for the accused.
should first abolish blasphemy laws in his own country #Pakistan then start
Ritesh Kumar (@Riteshkumar3112) 1545573208000
Saturday, addressing an event in Lahore, Khan referred to actor Naseeruddin
Shah's remarks on mob violence in India and said, "We will show the Modi
government how to treat minorities. Even in India, people are saying that
minorities are not being treated as equal citizens."
a video interview with Karwan-e-Mohabbat India, the veteran actor had said the
death of a cow was being given importance in the country than the killing of a
DELHI: A few months ago, some Hizbul Mujahideen commanders sought a meeting
with terrorists associated with Zakir Musa's Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH), an
Al Qaida affiliate active in south Kashmir. Four AGuH terrorists, though
circumspect, turned up for the meeting in Pulwama, only to learn that they had
been tricked. Hizbul terrorists ended up looting all the weapons Musa's men
since, AGuH, strapped by a funds and weapons crunch, has been struggling to
stay relevant and make an impact on the terror scene in Kashmir. Though Musa
continues to have significant leverage among young Kashmiris, given his
popularity on social media and backing by Islamic State-linked networks, his
attempts to gain a foothold in the Valley by getting more youth to join his
outfit have failed to make much headway as AGuH does not have enough weapons to
offer them, said an intelligence functionary.
Mujahideen, as well as Pakistan-based terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and
Jaish-e-Mohammad, have been opposing Musa's attempts to gain relevance in
Kashmir. "While there is potential for Musa's outfit to grow in popularity
and attract a large number of Kashmiri youth, lack of funding and source of
weapons has prevented it from growing into a major threat," said an officer
of the central security establishment.
strength of Musa’s outfit was estimated at no more than 10-15 armed cadres
until Saturday, who as per sources in the central security establishment held
some 8-10 weapons between them. After the killing of six AGuH cadres, including
Musa’s deputy Soliha alias Rehaan, in an encounter with security forces in
Pulwama on Saturday, the outfit, a senior official claimed, stood decimated but
for Musa and “a couple of others”. Weapons were recovered from the slain
terrorists, further limiting AGuH’s firepower.
possibly realises that with little financial backing and weapons, his men
cannot make much of an impact on the terror/militancy scene in J&K. He is
believed to be lying low, is possibly not using a phone to communicate for fear
of being tracked and may have also disguised his appearance to escape detection
by human intelligence assets of Jammu & Kashmir police,” said an officer.
United Nations General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted in favor of a
resolution on the permanent sovereignty of Syria over natural resources of the
Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights.
to Syria's official news agency SANA, the resolution, which was based on the
recommendations of the Second Committee -- Economic and Financial Committee –
was adopted by a record vote of 159 in favor, 7 against and 13 abstentions in a
Sunday session of the 193-member assembly.
resolution reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Syrians in the occupied
Syrian Golan to sovereign over its natural resources, including land, water and
energy. It also demands that Israeli occupation authorities stop from
exploiting, damaging, depleting and endangering natural resources in the
assembly on Sunday also called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to
submit a report during the next session on the implementation of the
resolution, including issues related to the increasing impact of exploiting,
damaging and depleting natural resources in the region by Israeli forces.
the Syrian delegation to the UN called on Guterres to denounce and stop some
“dangerous” practices of Israel in the occupied Golan Heights that “violate”
the international law.
specifically pointed to one of “most dangerous” of these practices which is
holding a so-called “local council’ elections” for the first time in the
villages of the region.
December 1, the majority of the assembly adopted a resolution urging the
Israeli regime to withdraw from the entirety of the Syrian Golan Heights it
occupied some half a century ago.
1967, the Israeli regime waged a full-scale war against Arab territories,
including those of Syria, and occupied a large swathe of Syria’s Golan Heights.
1973, another war, known as the Arab-Israeli War or the Yom Kippur War, broke
out between the Israeli regime and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and
Syria. A year later, a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force, according to
which the Israeli regime and the Syrian government agreed to separate their
troops, and create a buffer zone patrolled by the UN Disengagement and Observer
late 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law that extended the regime’s
“laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Golan Heights, effectively
annexing the territory to Israel.
few days after the law’s passage in Israel’s Knesset, UN Security Council
Resolution 497 determined the law as “null and void and without international
this month, the UN General Assembly once again denounced Israel’s
non-compliance with the UNSC 1981 resolution. The so-called Israeli law is not
recognized by the international community.
fact that most UN member states continue to support these resolutions shows
that they are committed to the goals and purposes of the UN Charter, and that
they reject foreign occupation and support Syria’s right to reclaim the
entirety of its Israeli-occupied lands, Munzer added.
in July, the Israeli military said that it had deployed artillery and armored
reinforcements to the occupied mountainous plateau, claiming that the move was
the result of a situation assessment “in light of developments on the Syrian
government forces have carried out a string of clean-up operations in the
country’s southwestern province of Quneitra near Israeli-occupied Golan
Heights, discovering a substantial amount of US-built munitions and
Israeli-made medicine from a former stronghold of foreign-backed Takfiri
unnamed military source told Syria’s official news agency SANA that Syrian
soldiers launched the operations in the town of Jubata al-Khashab to clear the
area of hidden explosive devices and ordnance left behind by the militants.
source added that the weapons were hidden inside dens dug by terrorists
underground, and included anti-tank missiles, mortar launchers, assault rifles,
various types of machine guns and landmines in addition to a large number of
protective masks and satellite communication devices.
troops also discovered large stocks of Israeli- and Western-made medicine and
medical equipment for surgical operations.
Syrian army units foiled attempts by terrorist groups to infiltrate and attack
military posts in the country's west-central province of Hama.
soldiers conducted concentrated strikes against positions of the so-called
Turkistan Islamic Party in Syria Salafist terrorist group in the villages of
al-Mashik, Tal Wassit and al-Ziyarah, killing and injuring a number of the
terrorists in the process.
hideouts, their fortified positions and a number of launchers, which Takfiri
terrorists had been using in their attacks against army positions, were also
security forces have killed 14 suspected Takfiri terrorists in an exchange of
fire in the country’s restive Sinai Peninsula amid an ongoing military campaign
against the Daesh terrorist group.
Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement Sunday that the militants had
been under surveillance prior to the raid by security forces on their hideout
in the town of el-Arish.
ministry stated that an exchange of fire lasting several hours killed eight
militants. The other six attempted to flee but were killed in a police chase.
to the statement, the militants were suspected of planning attacks on
"important and vital facilities," armed forces and police personnel.
army launched the campaign on February 9 after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
gave it a three-month deadline to crush Daesh in Sinai.
has said setbacks by Daesh in Syria were driving its terrorists to try to
relocate to Libya and Sinai. The group has killed hundreds of soldiers,
policemen and civilians, mainly in its North Sinai stronghold but also
elsewhere in Egypt.
Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after a
deadly terrorist attack left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.
the past few years, terrorists have been carrying out anti-government
activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that
erupted after the country’s first democratically-elected president, Mohamed
Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.
Arabic-language website of RT reported that the army has moved towards Eastern
Deir Ezzur to kick off a major operation against ISIL.
further said that the army has dispatched a part of its forces in Eastern Idlib
and Northern Hama to Eastern Deir Ezzur.
last bases of the ISIL are in the town of Hajin and its surrounding villages on
the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River, the Arabic RT said.
the meantime, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that
the army's movements in Eastern Deir Ezzur were sped up following the US
president's decision to pull forces out of the war-hit country, mainly deployed
on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River.
a relevant development on Saturday, the Army sent 2 convoys of military
vehicles to regions near the town of Albu Kamal in Southeastern Deir Ezzur near
border with Iraq.
convoys included a large number of forces from the 5th Division along with a
large volume of arms and ammunition and armored vehicles.
army's decision to reinvigorate positions in Southeastern Deir Ezzur came after
ISIL intensified attacks on the Western bank of the Euphrates River.
the meantime, a number of Russian and Syrian forces were sent by military
planes to Deir Ezzur airport.
official pointed to the unknown fate of the US-backed militants after US
forces' withdrawal from al-Tanf base, and said that the US president's decision
to pull forces out of Syria is an important turning point in favor of Damascus
and its allies, the Lebanese al-Ahd news website reported.
further was quoted by the news website as saying that the militants, deployed
in 55 sq-km radius region around the US-run al-Tanf base, will have no way but
to surrender to the Syrian Army as they will lose their main supporter after
withdrawal of the US forces from the region.
went on to say that the militants, including Maqawir al-Thowra, who agree to
surrender to the Syrian Army will hand over their arms to the Syrian Army and
those who do not agree to do so will apply for relocation to militant-held
regions in Northern Syria.
military official underscored that the Syrian army is resolved to enter the
region as soon as US troops retreat.
head of the US-backed Maghawir al-Thawra group in Syria, Muhanad al Talaa said
earlier today that American troops' presence at the al-Tanf camp remains at the
same level so far, despite the recent announcement about the US contingent's
withdrawal from Syria.
troops plan to withdraw completely from Syria but I don't have details and things
are as they are up until this moment", al Talaa said, Sputnik reported.
Muhanad al Talaa told BuzzFeed that US troops were preparing to leave the
al-Tanf base, whose presence there have been criticized by Russia. The chief of
the Russian General Staff announced on 5 December that Moscow had offered to
establish a joint Russian-US control over the zone instead.
al-Tanf garrison is situated at a strategic point close to Syria's borders with
Jordan and Iraq, on a crossroads with the Baghdad-Damascus highway. This is the
only point of major US troop presence in Syria's south with the rest of the
American troops located in the north along with Kurdish forces.
earlier slammed the US presence in al-Tanf as illegal and demanded Washington withdraw
its troops from there, since they were not invited by the Syrian authorities
and do not have a UN mandate.
Safak claimed that 150 trucks, carrying arms and ammunition, have been sent by
the US army to Kurdistan's People Protection Units (PKK), a military branch of
the Democratic Unity Party in Northeastern Syria.
US army's move came after the US presidents' decision to pullout forces from
Syria, the paper said, adding that the convoy crossed Iraqi border into the
border towns of Qamishlit and Drik 24 hours after Trump called for the troops pullout.
daily went on to say that a sum of 500 US' trucks of arms and ammunitions have
been forwarded to bases of the PKK and other People's Protection Units during
the past week.
London-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said
earlier this month that the US-led coalition forwarded a sum of 150 vehicles
carrying military-logistic equipment to the SDF-held regions on the Eastern
bank of the Euphrates River via Simalka passageway at Iraq-Syria border.
The UAE is the best place for religious tourism given the diversity and beauty
of its places of worship, said the chairman of the Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar
in Dubai, the largest Sikh temple in the Gulf.
it mosques, churches, or Sikh or Hindu temples, “all these places of worship
showcase the beauty of peace and tolerance in the UAE,” Surender Singh
Kandhari, who has been living in the country since 1975, told Arab News.
UAE has declared 2019 the Year of Tolerance. Kandhari said the country is a
living example of tolerance and being a bridge between peoples of different
cultures in a respectful environment that rejects extremism and emphasizes acceptance
of the other. “It’s the only country where more than 180 different
nationalities live together in harmony. You can’t find such an example anywhere
in the world,” he added.
is perhaps the only country where followers of every faith will find their
places of worship. These places aren’t meant for worship only. They’re gorgeous
pieces of art and architecture,” he said.
building has its own story to share, and everyone is welcome to find solace in
any place of worship. Everyone is allowed to go to any place of worship. This
kind of peace and tolerance one can’t find in any other part of the world.”
multi-story gurdwara was opened in January 2012 at a cost of more than $20
the UAE’s construction of a Sikh temple “in the heart of an Islamic state,”
Kandhari said: “To add to the joy and sense of wellbeing, Sheikh Mohammed bin
Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, bestowed a
piece of land free of charge for the Sikhs to build their temple.”
ultra-Orthodox Israeli lawmaker and more than a hundred settlers have stormed
the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of East Jerusalem al-Quds
amid frequent acts of violence committed by Israeli forces and settlers against
the Palestinian people.
Glick, 53, said on his Facebook account on Sunday that he toured the compound
to say prayers on the anniversary of his wife's death.
Palestinian Ma'an news agency, citing Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, the Imam and
director of al-Aqsa Mosque, said some 112 Israeli settlers and Glick entered
the compound through the Moroccans Gate in large consecutive groups.
armed Israeli troops were deployed across the compound and provided protection
to the legislator and other settlers as they toured the compound, Kisawni said.
December 3, Glick, who is a member of the ruling party of Likud-National
Liberal Movement, also stormed the compound along with dozens of other Israeli
number of Israeli lawmakers, or members of the Knesset, who storm the sacred
compound, has increased in the past few months after Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu decided in July to allow the legislators to visit the compound once
every three months following a restriction of access that has been in place
since October 2015.
of the Knesset members are right-wing extremists, who support the demolition of
the Islamic site in order to build a Jewish temple instead, on what is known
among settlers as the Temple Mount.
November 18, Uri Ariel, the minister of agriculture and rural development in
the occupied territories, and dozens of other Israeli settlers stormed the
compound. The Israeli minister had previously stormed the compound in
al-Aqsa Mosque compound sits just above the Western Wall plaza and houses both
the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa mosque.
continue in the occupied Palestinian territories as part of the aftermath of US
President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s
"capital" and relocation of the US embassy to the occupied city.
December 21, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in
favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial policy
the vote, the US went ahead with the embassy transfer on May 14, triggering
demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt,
Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
by Trump’s move, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted his
administration, saying Washington is no longer qualified to serve as the sole
mediator in the decades-long conflict with Israel, and that an international
mechanism should be devised to replace the US in the so-called peace process.
the second week of December 2018, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief
Center landmine clearance project (MASAM) in Yemen extracted 64 anti-personnel
mines, 1,430 anti-vehicle mines, 85 improvised explosive devices and 955
unexploded ordnances, which is a total of 2,534 mines.
SPA report stated that a total of 26,609 mines planted by the Houthi militias
have been removed by MASAM from land, schools and homes in Yemen. They added
that the Houthis have tried to hide the mines in different locations and using
camouflage, killing a large number of children, women and elderly, whether by
death or due to serious injuries caused by them.
forces on Sunday arrested Palestinian Agriculture Minister Sufian Sultan, as he
was heading to the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) from Ramallah, the center of the
occupied West Bank.
Israeli regime’s forces stopped the minister’s car and forced him out of it at
gunpoint while deliberately assaulting him, before proceeding to thoroughly
search his vehicle. Forces also seized the car’s alarm system, the ministry of
agriculture said in a statement.
ministry condemned Israel’s move against the minister, noting that such a
measure violates the international humanitarian law and is part of Israel’s
escalated attacks against the Palestinian people.
Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, especially Ramallah, al-Bireh,
and Jerusalem al-Quds have been scene to clashes between Palestinian people and
Zionist military forces.
have been running high in the occupied region as the Israeli military regularly
opens fatal fire on Palestinians, accusing them of seeking to attack its
rights groups have repeatedly slammed the Tel Aviv regime for its shoot-to-kill
policy as a large number of the Palestinians killed at the scene of attacks did
not pose any serious threat to Israelis.
troops have on numerous occasions been caught on camera brutally killing
Palestinians, with the videos going viral online and sparking condemnations of
the regime’s military.
the beginning of 2018, Israeli forces have killed at least 310 Palestinians,
including 54 children, and arrested over 900 others, according to a Palestinian
human rights center.
have also been running high near the fence separating Gaza Strip from the
occupied territories since March 30, the day when Gaza protesters started their
“Great March of Return” protests.
protesters demand the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
clashes in Gaza reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary
of Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, which coincided this year with
Washington's relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem
than 220 Palestinians have so far been killed and over 20,000 others wounded in
the renewed Gaza clashes, according to the latest figures released by the Gaza
senior official of the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, says Palestinians
will continue the Great March of Return rallies until the end of the Israeli
siege on the Gaza Strip.
al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and a member of its leadership in the Gaza
Strip, made the remarks in a Sunday interview with Iran’s Al-Alam News Network
said the anti-occupation rallies, known as the “Great March of Return,"
have produced important results, and will not be stopped before the Israeli
regime’s siege on the enclave is lifted.
have been running high near the fence separating Gaza from the occupied
territories since March 30, which marked the start of the protests.
has been under Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a decline in living
standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
to be decisive day for Israel
military wings of Hamas warned in a joint statement on Sunday that the coming
Friday will be “decisive” in determining their response to the killing of four
people during recent border protests.
groups declared they had prepared retaliation steps, and that their use will be
dependent upon Israel’s policy.
will be “a decisive day in examining the Zionist enemy’s behavior and
intentions toward our people in the March of Return,” the Sunday statement
deaths were “a total crime and clear recklessness by the Zionist enemy,” which
has “crossed red lines,” they continued, as reported by Israeli media.
these crimes, the resistance will not act lightly with the enemy and stand by
idly,” the statement warned.
statement came after several Palestinians, including a teenage, were shot dead
by Israeli fire and nearly fifty others sustained injuries during the latest
Great March of Return protests in Gaza.
main backer of Palestinians
his interview with Al-Alam, al-Zahar further described Iran as the main
supporter of Palestinians, and said Hamas does not do anything without
consulting with Iran over the issue.
made the remarks during his visit to Tehran at the head of a delegation of the
Hamas faction in the Palestinian Parliament.
earlier held talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif,
Secretary of Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, Parliament
Speaker Ali Larijani as well as Ali Akbar Velayati a senior advisor to the
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
the meeting with al-Zahar, Zarif once again reiterated the Islamic Republic's
principled policy to support Palestine, urging all countries in the Muslim
world to boost their unity to defend the Palestinian cause.
hope that some Muslim countries that have pinned their hopes on the support of
the Zionists and the US will return to the Muslim world and realize that
Zionists are not a trustworthy friend or partner for anybody," Zarif said.
Iranian foreign minister added that efforts to counter the Palestinian
resistance are unfortunately being made from inside the Muslim world, saying
that all countries and Islamic movements are also under such pressure.
his part, Zahar hailed Iran's real support for Palestine and expressed hope
that the Palestinian people's resistance and the Muslim world's support would
put an end to the Zionist project as soon as possible.
in May, Ayatollah Khamenei said resistance is the sole way to save the
oppressed Palestinian nation.
army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have
intercepted and targeted an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Saudi-led
military coalition, as it was flying in the skies over a mountainous region in
the country’s northwestern province of Sa’ada.
unnamed Yemeni military source told Arabic-language al-Masirah television network
that Yemeni air defense forces and their allies shot down the Chinese-made CH-4
combat drone with a surface-to-air missile on Sunday afternoon.
CH-4 drone has a 3,500- to 5,000-kilometer range and a 30- to 40-hour
endurance. It is also capable of carrying six missiles and a payload of up to
250 to 345 kilogram.
unmanned aerial vehicle can fire air-to-ground missile from altitude of 5,000
meters, therefore it can stay outside of effective range of most anti-aircraft
on Sunday, Yemeni soldiers and Popular Committees fighters thwarted an
infiltration attempt by Saudi troops and their troops, killing and wounding
scores of them in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Jizan.
Yemeni military official, requesting not to be named, said Yemeni troopers and
their allies also managed to advance in the al-Maslub district of Yemen’s
northern province of al-Jawf. A number of Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to
former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi were killed and wounded in the
development came a day after Yemeni missile defense units launched a
domestically-developed Zelzal-1 (Earthquake-1) ballistic missile at a position
of Saudi mercenaries east of al-Khobe district of Jizan, located 966 kilometers
(600 miles) south of the Saudi capital Riyadh, killing and wounding many of
soldiers and allied fighters from Popular Committees also fired a salvo of
Katyusha rockets at Holom military base in the Naqil al-Kashabeh district of
Yemen's southwestern province of Dhale. Several Saudi mercenaries were killed
and wounded as a result.
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military
campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government
of Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah movement.
to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED),
a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far
claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure,
destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a
record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million
threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering
from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
army, which alongside the Houthi movement has been defending the country, says
Saudi Arabia has increased its attacks in breach of a UN-brokered truce in the
port city of Hudaydah.
spokesman Brigadier Yahya Sariyah told al-Masirah TV that the Saudis have
violated the Hudaydah ceasefire 223 times since December 17, when the truce
ceasefire violations included 51 missile attacks, 155 cases of artillery fire
and shelling as well as infiltration attempts, he added.
warplanes, Sariyah said, continue to fly intensely over Hudaydah. Over the past
48 hours, they have conducted 42 air raids on the provinces of Sa'ada, al-Jawf
fighters, meanwhile, have clashed with Saudi mercenaries, killing and injuring
dozens of them.
Hudaydah truce was reached recently in Sweden during peace talks between
delegations from the Houthis and Yemen's former Saudi-allied regime.
warring sides agreed to the withdrawal of their forces and the deployment of UN
monitors to the port, the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and
monitors arrived in Yemen on Saturday to oversee the fragile truce.
Sunday, retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert, who heads the UN team,
arrived in the Houthi-held Yemeni capital, Sana'a, before heading to Hudaydah.
on Sunday, the Yemeni air defense shot down a drone belonging to the Saudi-led
CH4-type drone was brought down in Sa'ada by a surface-to-air missile, said the
Yemeni army spokesman.
Chinese-made advanced drone has the capability to carry a variety of munitions,
such as four AR-1 missiles at a height of 7,200 meters.
has seen some of the heaviest fighting in the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Somalia – Heavy fighting broke out between Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab fighters
and Islamic State militants near Somali border along Kenya.
fighting flared up last night after heavily armed Al Shabaab fighters launched
an ambush attack on small targets held by Islamic State militants in El Adde
town, some 550 km west of Somali capital Mogadishu.
Adde, a town close to Kenyan border along Somalia.
Risaala, a local FM based in Mogadishu reported that several militants from
both warring sides had been killed in the latest clash in Somalia.
Al Shabaab nor Islamic State commented on the fighting.
week, Al-Shabab leadership has broadcast
a 42-minute statement accusing Islamic State (IS) group fighters of “spoiling
the ongoing jihad in Somalia”.
their spokesperson, Ali Mohamud – alias Ali Rage, the group called on its
fighters to carry out attacks to wipe out IS fighters.
said the IS fighters were “a deadly disease” and “a cancer”.
Islamic State has been mounting
noticeably more attacks in Somalia in recent months, following the group’s loss
of its “caliphate” heartlands in Syria and Iraq late last year.
top Boko Haram leader accused of organising deadly twin blasts in the Nigerian
capital Abuja that killed 18 people has been arrested, police said Friday.
police statement said Umar Abdulmalik and seven other jihadists were arrested,
without giving details.
people were also injured in the October 2, 2015 blasts which simultaneously
ripped through the suburbs of Kuje and Nyanya outlying the federal capital.
explosions happened near a police station in Kuje and at a bus stop in Nyanya.
near Abuja's airport, is 40km west of the city centre and seat of government.
Its prison at the time held dozens of Boko Haram prisoners captured by troops.
same bus station in Nyanya, to the east, was hit twice in 2014. The first
attack, on 14 April 2014, left at least 75 dead and was claimed by the
Islamists; the second, on 1 May, left at least 16 dead.
the latest attack, the jihadists ambushed a military convoy in the northeastern
state of Borno killing at least two soldiers, military sources told AFP on
attack saw them attacking with guns and rocket-propelled grenades on a convoy
of troops near Bongori village in Damboa district, two military officers said,
speaking on condition of anonymity.
troops from the state capital Maiduguri, the cradle of the Boko Haram movement,
were heading to the town of Damboa, about 90km away.
soldiers were injured and an armoured vehicle was damaged, a military officer
said. The second officer confirmed the information.
Haram has intensified attacks on military targets in Borno and neighbouring
Yobe state, killing dozens.
week, two Nigerian soldiers were killed in a roadside mine explosion outside
the town of Gamboru near the border with Cameroon blamed on the jihadists
authorities arrested 14 leaders of an opposition coalition on Saturday, a
spokesman for the grouping said, as anti-government protests driven by an
economic crisis continued for a fourth day in several cities.
Abu Issa, the 85-year-old head of the National Consensus Forces, one of the
country’s two main opposition groupings, was among those detained after an
opposition meeting in the capital Khartoum, said spokesman Sadiq Youssef.
demand their immediate release, and their arrest is an attempt by the regime to
stop the street movements,” Youssef said, adding that Abu Issa was in poor
health and had been transferred to hospital after his detention. Officials
could not immediately be reached for comment.
arrests came on the fourth day of demonstrations, fueled by deteriorating
economic conditions in cities across Sudan, in which protesters have voiced
anger over corruption and some have called for an end to President Omar
Saturday, students protesting in the city of al-Rahad set fire to the ruling
party’s office and other official buildings and briefly closed the main road to
the capital Khartoum, about 370km to the north east, witnesses said.
used teargas to disperse protesters, witnesses said. Protesters also gathered
in several eastern neighborhoods of Khartoum and in the southern city of
Madani, witnesses said.
Hassan Ibrahim, an assistant to Bashir and deputy head of the ruling party,
said the protests were “coordinated and organized” and that two of those killed
in demonstrations in the city of al-Qadarif were from the armed forces.
the Sudanese armed forces are guarding strategic locations in all Sudanese
regions,” he added. At least nine people have been killed in protests this
week, according to officials and witnesses, though casualty numbers are hard to
service has slowed and activists have accused the government of blocking social
media to stop protesters communicating. Authorities have blamed the protests on
opposes Trump’s troop withdrawal plan
The US Department of Defence has informed Congress that it wants to continue to
apply direct and indirect military pressure on the Taliban, while supporting
nascent efforts for peace in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Pentagon’s strategy paper, submitted to Congress this week, clearly differs
with President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw roughly half of the more than
14,000 of US troops stationed in Afghanistan by the end of 2019.
Secretary James Mattis also disagreed with the Trump plan and resigned earlier this
week when the president rejected his advice to keep troops in Syria and
has welcomed the Trump plan, calling it “good” for the ongoing peace process.
Marvin Weinbaum, Washington’s senior-most expert of South Asian affairs, warned
that the United States should not give the impression that it was ready to
Pakistan’s belief that the US is prepared to be in Afghanistan for the long
haul, any likelihood we can gain its cooperation on the Taliban evaporates,” he
said. “Instead, it reinforces Pakistan’s determination to hold on to the
Taliban as a proxy Pashtun force.”
Pentagon goes a step ahead and tells Congress that the US should not only keep
troops in Afghanistan, but the troops should also continue to engage the
(Department of Defence) will continue to apply direct and indirect military
pressure on the Taliban, while supporting nascent efforts by the Afghan
government to facilitate local peace initiatives, including de-escalation, defections,
and declarations of neutrality,” the Pentagon strategy paper said.
Pentagon said that while it could not “forecast with precision the timing of a
breakthrough on reconciliation”, it believed that the continued US military
engagement in Afghanistan forced the militants to participate in peace talks.
“US efforts to assist the Afghan government are likely to increase the stress
on the Taliban movement inside and outside of Afghanistan,” it argued.
Order for US military withdrawal from Syria signed
order has been signed for the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, where
they have been deployed to assist in the war against ISIS, a US military
spokesperson said on Sunday.
execute order for Syria has been signed,” the spokesperson told AFP, without
providing further details.
President Donald Trump has declared the extremist group “largely defeated,” and
made the surprise decision to bring US forces home -- a move that many US
politicians and international allies fear is premature and would further
destabilize the already devastated region.
Washington Post article has revealed that Qatar had involved Jamal Khashoggi in
supporting the country’s agenda, which explains why Doha’s media is working
hard to politicize his death.
details mentioned in the newspaper reveal the background to Qatar imposing its
perspective while covering the incident. The report is based on 200 documents
that reveal how Qatar directed ideas and contents contained in Khashoggi’s
newspaper admitted clearly that it was not aware of the suspicious relationship
between its writer Jamal Khashoggi and Qatar, as the documents show how Jamal Khashoggi’s
articles were influenced and even commissioned by Qatar Foundation
American newspaper asserted that, Maggie Mitchell Salem, a senior executive
official of Qatar Foundation, was drafting and proposing Khashoggi’s articles.
newspaper also asserted that text messages were found, between Khashoggi and
Maggie Mitchell Salem. These messages revealed that Salem sometimes used to
dictate to Khashoggi the articles he presented to Washington post.
to the Washington Post, Salem, a former US diplomat who tried to defend her
relationship with Khashoggi, said her help was based on her feeling that this
aid was for a friend seeking success in the United States.
report quoted the Executive Director of Qatar Foundation International as
saying that Khashoggi’s limited capabilities in English had led to comments on
to the media reports, Salem had proposed topics for Khashoggi’s articles,
drafted articles and pushed him to take a tougher line against the Saudi
government. According to the newspaper, the Qatari organization also provided
Khashoggi with a translator, who relied on him in his articles.
controversial Washington Post report indicates that some of Khashoggi's friends
in the United States belong to or sympathize with the Muslim Brotherhood.
had relations with two actors at the Center for American-Islamic Relations, who
did not hide their support for the so-called "Arab spring" uprising.
He also had relations with senior officials in the Turkish government, whose
relations were frigid with Saudi Arabia.
Washington-based Qatar Foundation International (QFI), a branch of the larger
Qatar Foundation organization operating within Qatari territory, could not deny
the relationship it had with Khashoggi.
Washington Post reports that the organization has explicitly admitted that it
has a relationship with Jamal Khashoggi in recognition of its exploitation of a
suspicious national agenda against Saudi Arabia.
one of the WhatsApp messages exchanged between Khashoggi and Maggie Salem, the
latter asked him to distort the image of Saudi Arabia by mentioning its
relations with Washington and the file of Jerusalem and the right-wing parties.
Khashoggi was somewhat apprehensive about putting these ideas in his article,
asking her to write the article. She only replied that she would try to do so,
and asked him to write a preliminary draft, says the report.
relationship between Khashoggi and Maggie Salem was consolidated during his tenure
at the Saudi Embassy in Washington in 2005, and following the outbreak of the
Qatari crisis with its neighbors.
to the report, they held several meetings in and outside Doha and Maggie helped
Khashoggi obtain permanent residence status within the United States after he
decided to move there.
arranged for him to attend a conference organized by the Brookings Institution,
which is funded by Qatar, and facilitated his appearance on the British BBC
channel in the presence of Qataris.
surprising part of the report reveals that Khashoggi, even when he was writing
articles in The Washington Post criticizing Saudi Arabia and Saudi’s reformist
approach, asked for $2 million in funding from Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of
Information to set up a research center.
Post, in the report entitled “The Last Months of Jamal Khashoggi,” also stated
that the late journalist was looking for a source to fund an information
institution whose primary objective was to monitor the performance of Arab
governments in terms of rights and freedoms.
achieve this; he was looking for a main sponsor for this project.
revelations raised alarm among Washington Post editors, and triggered a tussle
within the newspaper. As they tried to distance themselves from the scandal,
opinion-page officials maintained that they were not aware of these links or
else they would not have allowed these pieces to be published.
the newspaper insisted that its opinion section is separate from the newsroom,
the page officials said that they were unaware of his efforts to secure Saudi
funding or a think tank, or his arrangements that explain how his views seemed
closer to Qatar than his country’s positions, especially on the Gulf crisis.
disclosure would prompt analysts to review the reasons for the large media
campaign led by Qatar and Turkey’s outlets on Saudi Arabia after Khashoggi's
death and whose campaign against Riyadh was far from being a defense of press
U.S. special presidential envoy for the global coalition to defeat Daesh has
submitted his resignation, CBS News reported Saturday.
McGurk's resignation will take effect Dec. 31. He has served the post for three
worked under the past three administrations, becoming one of the few persons
appointed by former President Barack Obama to keep his post under U.S.
President Donald Trump. He also served under the Bush administration.
envoy had originally planned to leave his post in 2019 but decided to
accelerate his resignation over strong disagreements with Trump over the
withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, the news channel reported quoting
decision to remove 2,000 American troops out of Syria came from a telephone
call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to The Associated
Press, and Trump made the decision without consulting his top national security
officials or any of the U.S.'s key allies.
resignation comes as a surprise because the envoy had told reporters at the
State Department that the U.S. was going to remain committed to the fight
against Daesh terrorist forces last week.
is declaring a mission accomplished. Defeating a physical caliphate is one
phase of a much longer-term campaign," McGurk told reporters.
sent in his resignation on Friday, a day after Secretary of Defense James
Mattis quit saying his views were not aligned with the president. Mattis will
end his post in February.
noted that the most important part of the U.S.’s defense strategy is maintaining
alliances with other nations, while Trump has been calling for increasing
isolationism during his presidency as part of his “America First” agenda.
2017, US President Donald Trump drew the knife on the Palestinian cause and
historic US-Palestinian ties. This year he lunged at both, slashing at their
very foundations and bloodying them beyond recognition.
announcing the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem in December
2017, the American leader embarked on a series of moves that would deal blow
after blow to Palestinian aspirations of a sovereign state living side-by-side
is shock in Ramallah at the speed at which Mr Trump has reversed decades of
long-held US foreign policy and his team’s willingness to broaden the
already-wide gap between both sides in the decades-long conflict.
and his key aides – son-in-law Jared Kushner, Middle East envoy Jason
Greenblatt, and ambassador to Israel David Friedman – have cancelled all
funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and
slashed aid to East Jerusalem hospitals that serve sick Palestinians. They have
failed to condemn continued Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and
East Jerusalem, viewed widely in the global community as illegal under
international law, but rather emboldened the enterprise.
offensive to the Palestinians, the billionaire friend of Mr Netanyahu moved the
US embassy to Jerusalem in May, at a ceremony held on the 60th anniversary of
the Nakba, the day of catastrophe in which 750,000 Palestinians were displaced from
their homes at the birth of Israel in 1948.
a doubt relations between the US and the Palestinians have reached a low point;
their lowest since at least the Second Intifada when the administration of
George W Bush turned its back on then Palestinian president Arafat and stood by
as Israel bulldozed his Muqata’ compound in Ramallah,” says Hugh Lovatt, policy
fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Middle East and North
while ties were fully reestablished following Arafat’s death; the damage this
time round may be more enduring.”
no longer view the US administration as an impartial or acceptable mediator in
the conflict, and public ties have been cut completely, but Washington still
plans to release its parameters anyway, ones the Palestinians say they could
much-delayed peace plan is set to leave the status of Jerusalem, where
Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as its future capital, and the right of return
of Palestinians to lands they were displaced from when Israel was founded,
completely off of the negotiating table.
the designs of the hard-right US-Israel alliance appear to be aimed at coercing
the Palestinians into submitting to an occupation that is diminishing not only
their land, but their hopes too.
Palestinians’ hopes now rest on the help of the international community to
counter the US-Israel push against them. But while the EU, Russia and China
have sided with the Palestinians, they have done little in terms of concrete
action to act against the American president’s policies. Gulf countries,
Britain and other EU states stepped up to meet most of the UNRWA's budget
shortfall. But overall, Mr Trump has felt emboldened to continue on this path
regardless of international censure and apparently without care that he is
undermining Washington’s role as a peace broker.
future US peace plan that goes against long standing international consensus
positions on how to resolve conflict will, in all likelihood, further undermine
US ownership and credibility relating to this file,” says Mr Lovatt.
speculated aspect of the Trump peace plan is a “Gaza-plus” plan that will see
the besieged coastal enclave ruled by Hamas extended into Egypt’s northern
Sinai. In the West Bank, there are fears that Israel seeks to annex the entire
territory for its “Greater Israel” project, propped up by hundreds of thousands
of settlers and a powerful military.
hopes of moves towards a Palestinian state in the deal will be limited to what
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has famously termed a “state-minus,”
that is a nation state without the primary functions of one.
pro-Israel policy has only served to embolden Mr Netanyahu and his far-right
coalition partners at home. In July, they passed a controversial nation-state
law that defines Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people,” effectively
defining its Arab, Druze and Christian residents as second-class citizens.
year has not only been defined by Team Trump but by the gruesome public
spectacle in Gaza of protesters, many of them peaceful, being shot dead or
maimed at the border with Israel in weekly rallies since March.
lives of the territory’s residents have been rendered even more desperate by
three wars in just over a decade. Now, thousands of Palestinians have lost
loved ones – at least 220 Gazans have been killed since March – and thousands
more have been left disfigured by Israeli bullets and face the prospect of
amputation or death because of the enclave’s overwhelmed healthcare system.
issue for the Palestinians is their own leadership, an entrenched elite that is
increasingly out of touch with its own populace. A September poll found more
than 60 per cent of Palestinians want Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to
resign. But the reality is that Mr Abbas, bar further health issues, is not
going to relinquish power, but rather seek to consolidate it. On the other
hand, Hamas remains a pariah in the international community, viewed by many as
a terrorist organisation rather than a resistance movement.
the Palestinian side, matters are unlikely to improve in 2019. The ageing
Palestinian leadership is out of vision, strategy, and belief,” says Mr Lovatt.
its part, Hamas remains caught between its need to be seen as a responsible
actor in Gaza that can engage with the international community, and its DNA as
a resistance group fighting Israel and undermining Fatah rule in the West Bank.
All in all, this represents a profound moment of Palestinian weakness and
division, at home and abroad.”
the start of 2018, former US Secretary of State John Kerry reportedly warned
close Abbas associate Hussein that the Palestinian leader must “hold on and be
strong,” to “play for time” and to “not yield” to the American president’s
demands as he believed he would not last long in the Oval Office.
Mr Trump unlikely to go any time soon, the Israeli government increasingly
emboldened and the Palestinians increasingly isolated, the leadership in
Ramallah needs to take heed of the American diplomat’s words more than ever.
Trump’s foreign policy is outlined simply in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. His
doctrine, the book says, is "to reduce the board to three elements: powers
we can work with, powers we cannot work with, and those without enough power
whom we can functionally disregard or sacrifice."
the Syrian Kurds recently found out, that policy is holding true, after he
turned on the longstanding US allies against ISIS, withdrawing US forces and
leaving them open to attacks from Turkish forces and militant groups.
says al-Qaeda is resurgent, plans to target airports and airliners
is resurgent and is planning new terrorist activity targeting airports and
airlines, the UK’s security minister ben Wallace said on Saturday.
added that the government is putting £25 mln into a research program for
defense from “insider threats” and new kinds of explosions, including
aviation threat is real. Aviation is still a blue riband event for these
terrorists. Al-Qaeda are resurgent. They have reorganized. They are pushing
more and more plots towards Europe and have become familiar with new methods
and still aspire to aviation attacks,” he said in an interview with The Sunday
added that the decline of ISIS has given the terrorist group a renewed space.
2019, we should be alert to al-Qaeda. They are re-energizing some previous
links and support and their ambition towards aviation is real. We saw in
Australia that terrorists do what works and they don’t give up,” he said
referring to a failed attack against an Australian airliner in 2017.
minister also said that he was concerned with US President Donald Trump’s
decision to pull out of Syria, which he says will give the terrorists a safe
German journalist who was found to have made up information for numerous
articles may be charged with allegedly soliciting donations for Syrian orphans
from his readers.
German magazine Der Spiegel said its award-winning former reporter Claas
Relotius asked readers by email from his private account for donations to be
transferred to his personal bank account. Readers were moved by the tale of two
Syrian siblings described in one of Mr Relotius stories. According to a
photographer who worked by Mr Relotius, the children were not siblings and the
boy was not an orphan.
the disgraced freelancer "collected the readers' money under false
pretenses, which he apparently has not, as pormised passed on" Der Spiegel
editors wrote on the magazine's website.
Spiegel said it is not clear how many people donated money, how much the
reporter collected or what happened to the money. The magazine said it would
press charges and work with prosecutors to find out the details.
Arabia has commended Albania’s decision to expel two Iranian diplomats from the
country due to their alleged “involvement in terrorist activities”.
Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the two diplomats were expelled for
"violating their diplomatic status" following talks with other
countries. Further information about what the diplomats were accused of was not
source in the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry said the Kingdom supported the
decision by Albania to “expel the Iranian diplomats, one of whom was the
ambassador, for their involvement in terrorist activities against Albania”.
Albanian minister of foreign affairs spoke to United States Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo shortly after the announcement to expel the diplomats. Mr Pompeo
thanked the leadership for “taking up action against unacceptable diplomatic
source told the state-run Saudi Press Agency that Saudi Arabia “has repeatedly
stressed the seriousness of Iranian support for terrorism and the need of the
international community to deal with it firmly.”
President Donald Trump sent a letter thanking the President of Albania for the
Trump's letter said the expulsion "exemplifies our joint efforts to show
the Iranian government that its terrorist activities in Europe and around the
world will have severe consequences."
blamed the US and Israel for the expulsions. The Iranian state news agency, IRNA,
quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying that "Albania
has become an unintentional victim of the United States, Israel and some
Albanian television station Top Channel reported that the Iranians were suspected
of "illegal activities" relating to a World Cup qualifying match
between Albania and Israel two years ago.
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