Arabia Faces Bleak Future, Real Risk of Demise: A Political Analyst From London
In a Name? Religion, Maybe: Many Sikh Families Used To Give Sons Names Rooted
Israel Making Breakthrough in Muslim World
Builds Middle East’s Largest Cathedral, But What About Smaller Churches?
Real Face of Indonesia': Video of Singing Nun Joining Islamic Pop Performance
ISIS 'Terrorists' Shot Dead Were 'Innocent': Government
Talk With Pakistan If Taliban Are Being Represented By the Country: Ghani
patience with Iran wears thin, tiptoes towards Trump
In a Name? Religion, Maybe: Many Sikh Families Used To Give Sons Names Rooted
In Urdu and Muslims Sikh Names, Before the Partition
A Muslim Aristocrat's Art Collection Became A National Treasure
rooted for secularism, successfully forged Hindu-Muslim unity: Historians
Awami Tehreek Chairman Dr Tahir Ul Qadri to Visit India Next Month
violates ceasefire along international border, LoC in Jammu and Kashmir
in Jammu feeling vulnerable, says Mehbooba
Sidhu advises PM Imran, PM Modi regarding Gurdwaras
militants killed in encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s
to Close UNRWA Schools In Occupied East Jerusalem Al-Quds
army recaptures Wadi Al-Tamm and Al-Saif mountains in Saada
to Trump: Turkey ready to take over Syria’s Manbij
‘Iron Dome’ intercepts rocket fired from Syria
gained nothing after spending $7,000bn in Iraq, Syria: Iran military chief
increase in Israeli demolition of Palestinian structures last year: OCHA
US consulate worker faces charges over Gulen links: DHA
Says Security Forces Killed 14 Militants In Sinai
Army's Air Defense Wards off Israeli Air Raid in Southern Syria
Army Heavily Pounds ISIL's Movements in Eastern Deserts of Homs Province
military strikes Iranian targets in Syria, kills 11
blast in a bus kills three civilians in Syria’s Afrin
says its air defences intercept ‘most of Israeli missiles’ fired on Damascus
Aoun urges world powers to facilitate Syrian refugee’s repatriation
air defence thwarts Israeli strike near Damascus: State media
Seeks Peace with Muslim Self-Rule Vote
to dance but why go up on stage, asks Muslim lawyers’ group
wrong with CJ dancing in public, says lawyer
of Bashir seen as political move by Jokowi
campaign pledge to pass 'ulema protection’ bill draws criticism
discusses Afghan peace process with visiting US military delegation
anniversary of terrorist attack at Bacha Khan University
senator urges Trump to meet PM Khan to strengthen ties
kills two more ‘terrorists’ in Gujranwala
CTD officials booked under anti-terror law
and Coalition Forces kill 15 militants in during separate operations
arrests Islamist extremist over deadly cafe attack
car bomb goes off among Afghan security forces
spreading in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps
Myanmar cops hurt in Rakhine
envoy for Afghan peace concludes visit to Pakistan with optimisms
Extremists Kill 10 UN Peacekeepers in Mali
Thousands Of Muslims Commemorate Terror Victims
unrest enters second month with protests in Omdurman
police say attack on Chinese facilities is repelled
and Chad renew diplomatic relations, Benjamin Netanyahu says
Army Study of Its Iraq Invasion Concludes Iran Was 'The Only Victor'
to Drag Neighbours Back Into Afghan War, Warns Report
terms pullout plan a tactical change
senator wants Trump to meet PM Khan
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Arabia would finally face a revolt from the inside as people's voices for
democracy and freedom start to rattle the shaky and unstable regime that
"corrupt royals" have built on oil wealth, a political analyst from
future of Saudi Arabia looks bleak because it is a complete autocracy ruled by
a corrupt royal family which uses the whip and electricity and the sword to
suppress all opposition,” said Rodney Shakespeare in an interview with Press TV
analyst said the Saudi Arabian government had managed to remain in power
through its huge oil income and its economic strength which it uses to satisfy
a “sufficient proportion of the population” which thinks its interests lie with
supporting the corrupt and intolerant government.
said, however, that at some stage in future, Saudi Arabia is likely to come
under high pressure as the modern communication technologies have enabled
people to become more familiar with their democratic rights.
will come a situation where the need for people to express their views and
acquire democracy will happen,” he said.
expert said there was also the possibility that the United States and Israel as
Saudi Arabia’s war-mongering allies would push the regime in Riyadh to launch a
large military conflict in the Middle East which could accelerate the demise of
the kingdom as it could lead to more chaos and uncertainty inside the country.
the time the Saudi-American-Israeli nexus is only too likely to make some
ghastly geopolitical mistake,” he said, adding, “... and if that happens, then
you can be sure that forces for liberation in Saudi Arabia will succeed in
breaking out in the turmoil and chaos which will be inevitable in the
said history has seen recurrent cases of regime falls involving autocratic
governments, adding that could be the case for Saudi Arabia and its royal
could find suddenly that autocracies ... come under huge pressure and may well
get overthrown in one of those surprising, startling developments which happen
in human affairs from time to time,” he said.
Before Partition drove a wedge between people of different religions, many Sikh
families used to give sons names rooted in Urdu, which was one of the most
important languages of undivided Punjab. There were Muslims with Sikh names
Independence, the practice took on a different form. As Punjab was ripped apart
in the bloodbath of Partition, a few Muslim families gave two names to their
children – one Muslim, one Sikh. Slowly, the violence eased and so did the
fear. But the practice continued...
Farooq, alias Narayan Singh, is a tailor in Sahwajpur village, 11 km from
Patiala, which has had a Sikh majority population since the British raj.
tailor, who is in his 40s, lives with his wife and three children in a family
of more than 20 members, including his father and three uncles.
religious identity was never an issue for them because most people had two
names — one with Persian and Arabic roots and the other distinctly Sikh. That
was the way it was and no one thought much about it. Farooq says he realized he
was a Muslim only after he got married in his late 20s.
we were young, we used to play with other teenagers, who would sometimes call
us ‘Mussalman (Muslim)’ in jest. This was so lighthearted that we thought we
were just another caste in the Sikh fold. Also, many of our Sikh friends used
the surname, Maan,” recalls Farooq, who celebrates Lohri and Holi with his
neighbours and friends and has langar in the local gurdwara, just like everyone
else in the village.
is matter-of-fact about his dual identity, which, he says, has been a common
practice in his community for generations.
uncle Habib alias Arjun Singh, who is in his late 80s, says the practice of
giving two names started in 1947 after a majority of Muslims migrated to the
newlycarved Pakistan and only a handful were left in the villages of Indian
about their children’s safety, the families that stayed back started giving
them dual names. That’s how Habib, who was 15 at the time, got another name,
gruesome as it was, the violence of Partition eased, as did the fear. But the
practice of giving two names to children continued in some of these families.
a village which has around 400 households, is home to about 100 Muslim
families, many of whom have continued the practice.
Wajidpur village, about 4 km from Sehwajpur, 38-year-old Jalle Khan, a mason,
is better known as Jarnail Singh. His 15-yearold son, Akram Khan goes by the
name Rinku Singh and 18-year-old daughter Sabeena has the name Satinder on her
didn’t know much about my religion till a few years ago. We realized our true
religious identity only after Jamaat (a group of preachers) came to the
village,” said Jalle Khan.
son is a student of Islamic studies in Rajasthan’s Suratgarh and Sabeena
studies at a madrassa in Malerkotla.
knew we are Muslims by birth but didn’t know much about our religious
practices. Even now, my name in my bank account and postal address is Jarnail
Singh,” says Jalle Khan as he introduces his uncle as Baljeet Singh, alias
Beera Khan, and his cousins as Manpreet Singh and Jaswinder Singh.
nearby Banhra, villagers who were born to parents with two different names did
not have much knowledge about their religious identity.
Muslims with dual names have now started following their religious practices,
thanks to the support of fellow villagers, who are mainly Sikhs and Hindus.
Singh, husband of sarpanch Mandeep Kaur of Wajidpur village, says community
celebrations of Sikh and Muslim festivals are common in the village.
villagers even got a mosque constructed for Muslims and they are an integral
part of every activity,” says Manpreet.
Sattar, a youth from a nearby village, says local leaders are taking steps to
help them follow their religious practices, particularly since they also form a
significant vote bank.
Rituals And Dilemmas
are several Muslim families which have been following rituals of both
religions, as they were born to parents with dual identity. Many had no clarity
on their religious identity for years.
members in our extended family have been following Sikh rituals of birth and
death. Two years ago, when my cousin passed away, his wife and children were
preparing to cremate him. It was only after some elder members of the family
asserted his Muslim identity and insisted on Islamic rituals that his mortal
remains were buried near the village cremation ground,” recalls Sehwajpur
tailor Omar Farooq.
comprise less than 2% of the population in Punjab, but Islam has a strong
historical presence with many mosques, mausoleums and shrines. The Muslim
population came down drastically after Partition, when most Muslims migrated to
Pakistan and many were killed in the ensuing violence.
acquired dual names to escape persecution during partition, but things have
changed on various fronts for the community. With growing awareness, many have
started following their religious practices and are asserting their religious identity,”
says Dr Naseer Akhter, a social worker and Islamic preacher from Malerkotla.
till Independence, Muslims were in a majority in Jalandhar, Amritsar, Ferozepur
and Gurdaspur. Except for Malerkotla, the only Muslim-dominated town in Punjab,
Muslims are scattered across the state and have a significant presence in and
around Qadian, Chandigarh, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana.
present, Punjab has a Muslim population of over five lakh, of which nearly 20%
may comprise people like Farooq alias Narayan Singh and Habib alias Arjun
Singh, who live with a dual identity.
scholar and historian Muhammad Rafi, who has written many books on
socio-cultural and political aspects of Muslims and is based in Malerkotla,
observes that the dual identity trend started in Muslims who were too scared to
migrate to Pakistan during Partition. Gradually, the practice helped forge a
bond between Sikhs and Muslims. “They not only imbibed the culture but also
each other’s religions. History is replete with instances of Muslims and Sikhs
helping each other. Even gurus and saints of both communities have shown
respect for each religion. Islam and Sikhism have been close and their amicable
co-existence in villages of Punjab is a true example of our secular character,”
Punjabi poet and writer Surjit Patar, chairman of Punjab Arts Council, observes
that the bond between Muslim and Punjabi culture has been reflected in
literature and even Sufi songs. It is also reflected in the lifestyle of such
members of the minority community.
Naseer, the Malerkotla preacher, points out that in 8,500 villages of Punjab,
every village has at least 10 Muslim families. He estimates that Muslims with
dual names constitute roughly around 20% of the population. However, this
estimate is anecdotal as no survey has ever been conducted to examine the issue
of dual identity.
trend of dual identity became prominent in villages where there were not many
Muslims and the ones that were there feared backlash whenever there was
tension,” he observes.
knew we are Muslims by birth but didn’t know much about our religious
practices. Even now, my name in my bank account and postal address is Jarnail
Singh Jalle Khan
years ago, when my cousin passed away, his wife and children were preparing to
cremate him. Later some elder members of the family asserted his Muslim
identity and insisted on Islamic rituals and he was duly cremated
not only imbibed the culture but also each other’s religions. History is
replete with instances of Muslims and Sikhs helping each other
Rafi | HISTORIAN
person may have two or three names but as far as official work is concerned, we
go by the name mentioned in the birth certificate issued by the MC or in the
Israel Making Breakthrough In Muslim World
Chad – While Iran and the Palestinians tried to stop the reestablishment of
ties between Israel and Chad, other Arab countries actually encouraged the
move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday before boarding his
plane back to Israel from the landlocked African country.
said that the Arab world is helping Israel make inroads into non-Arab Muslim
countries. Paradoxically, he pointed out, some of those countries are looking
to Israel to help in their relationships not only with the US, but also with
made these comments during a briefing with reporters accompanying him to Chad,
but would not give details about which countries he was referring to.
breakthroughs with the Arab world help us in the Muslim world,” he said. “And
also, the Muslims want our help in dealing with the Arab states.”
said that the reestablishment of ties with Chad is not something that happened
all of a sudden, but has been in the works for a long time, taking the work of
both the Mossad and the foreign Ministry to bring about.
related to his relationship with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, and
said they speak about once every two weeks.
the issues that came up in his meeting with Chadian President Idris Déby was
whether there is a possibility of a third country taking in Israel’s African
refugees. Beyond saying that the issue came up, Netanyahu gave no details and
would not indicate whether Chad would be willing to serve as a sanctuary for
the refugees, or would assist in finding another country to be one.
is making inroads into the Muslim world, Netanyahu said on Sunday at the
presidential palace in N’Djamena, before signing documents with Déby, formally
re-establishing ties between the two countries.
are making history,” Netanyahu said of the reestablishment of ties with what he
called a “giant” country in Africa. “We are turning Israel into a rising world
power. There are those who tried to prevent this, but without success” – a
reference to Iranian and Palestinian efforts to stop Chad from establishing
ties with Israel.
is significant for us that Chad is a country with a Muslim majority that seeks
friendship with Israel,” Netanyahu said. “There are other such countries, but
in Africa this is particularly significant,” he added.
to the struggle being waged in this region of Africa with extremist Islamic
radicals, and noting the terrorist attack last week in Kenya, Netanyahu said
that the future of Africa depends on the future of the Sahel.
happens here can affect the entire world,” he said, adding that Israel and Chad
will now work together to impress the importance of the struggle on other
critical allies around the world.
called Chad a very important country for Israel and said that there is much
they can do to cooperate in a wide range of fields, including security, water,
health, technology and agriculture.
prime minister – who said that both he and Déby like to read history – said
that the Chadian president spoke to him about African prisoners of war in World
War II who were murdered by the Nazis.
is a story that has to be told,” Netanyahu said. “You suffered because you were
black; we suffered because we were Jews. We refuse to accept this fate and we
raised ourselves from defeat to create a new future for ourselves and for each
in his comments, spoke of the necessity for countries to join hands to fight
terrorism. He said that Chad was fighting terrorism on its borders and is
prepared to continue the struggle.
president made clear that the re-establishment of ties with Israel would not
come at the expense of support for the Palestinians, and Chad is in favor of
negotiations between the two sides toward an overall solution.
statements and the signing of the Declaration at the presidential palace came
after a couple of hours of meetings, first between Netanyahu and Déby alone,
and then with the wider staff including National Security adviser Meir
Ben-Shabbat, and the prime minister’s military attaché, Avi Bluth.
builds Middle East’s largest cathedral, but what about smaller churches?
only did 2019 witness the inauguration of Egypt’s largest church and mosque in
the New Administrative Capital, it kicked off with the legalization of 80
churches and service buildings in the country, bringing the number of legalized
Christian houses of worship to a total of 627.
the number of legalized churches, which come up to 508 as of December 2018, is
still minimal compared to the 3,800 requests sent to government, according to a
report issued by the Project on Middle East Democracy. They said that the rate
at which legalization is finalized, and construction or renovation permits are
obtained is rather slow.
September 2016, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi issued the Church
Construction and Renovation Law, which is meant to address the longstanding
demands of Egypt’s Christian communities for a more just and streamlined system
of obtaining permits to build, renovate, and repair churches.
the ratification of this law, a committee was established in 2017 to look into
applications submitted by Christian congregations, as well as to decide whether
to legalize churches constructed without a permit or houses informally used for
prayers and religious services.
committee includes ministers of housing, urban development, defense, justice,
antiquities, and parliamentary and legal affairs, as well as representatives of
different churches and security entities. But as the law, the committee, and
measures taken on the ground seem quite promising, they are hardly devoid of
praising the law and commending the state on its efforts in implementing it,
Coptic Orthodox Bishop Morcos of Shubra al-Khaima said that there are still
thousands of churches and affiliated buildings that need to be legalized. He
also noted that the process itself takes a long time.
to the law, the governor under whose jurisdiction the church falls should
respond to our request within four months, but in many cases there is no
response. We don’t know what should be done in this case,” he said. “We’re
hoping that this is happening now because the law is still quite new and that
in a while, procedures will be expedited.”
Andrea Zaki, head of the Protestant community in Egypt, also commented on the
time the legalization process takes.
submitted requests for 1,070 churches and service buildings and we have so far
got approval for 82 churches, which means we’re approaching 10 percent,” he
said. “But we’re hoping that procedures will be faster in the coming phase.”
to the Project on Middle East Democracy’s report, bureaucracy might have played
a major role in the slow process.
likely reason is that implementation of the law is taking place within a
bureaucracy that remains extremely inefficient. To gain legal status, for
example, unlicensed churches must provide a wealth of information that must be
verified by local representatives and then reviewed by senior officials of the
nine government bodies represented on the legalization committee.”
report added that neither the law nor the actions that followed have so far
been capable of addressing “system problems hindering Christians’ freedom of
worship.” These include, the report explained, “unlawful church closures,
harassment of worshippers by security agencies, failure to protect churches
from terrorist and sectarian violence, and security agencies’ reliance on
reconciliation sessions, outside the justice system, to ‘resolve’ local
conflicts around churches.”
the other hand, the Coalition of Egyptian Parties, which includes 46 political
parties, said that the growing number of legalized churches is bound to reduce
sectarian conflicts in different parts of Egypt.
between Muslims and Christians, especially in Upper Egyptian villages, were
attributed to performing religious ceremonies in churches with no construction
permits, or in buildings that were not meant to be used for religious purposes
in the first place,” said a statement issued by the coalition. “The
legalization of those places will endow them with an official status, hence
protect both the places of worship and the worshippers.” The legalization, the
statement added, is also contingent upon complying with all the necessary
safety measures required by the committee in charge of the process. “This means
that those buildings will be safer,” the statement noted.
a report issued by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, stated that the
particular specifications required, including these safety measures, are one of
the main reasons for the delay. They said mandatory specifications such as fire
safety and alarm systems, are bound to take time.
the committee continues at this rate, it will need 12 years to respond to all
submitted requests,” the report said.
report quotes Abbot Mikhail Anton, the representative of the Coptic Orthodox
Church in the legalization committee, as saying that according to the law,
unlicensed churches that submitted legalization requests cannot be closed, yet
this is not the case on the ground.
still witness cases of church closures because of pressure by local
extremists,” he said. The report argued that dealing with churches on a
case-by-case basis will cause more delays, hence problems and clashes are bound
to persist. “The only solution to this problem is for the committee to approve
all submitted requests in one single decision then deal with conditions and
specifications after. “Such a step will undoubtedly curb sectarian violence,
which is still thriving thanks to bureaucratic delays and approval conditions.”
Rania Saad made an estimate of the number of churches that require legalization
based on the requests submitted to the committee. The Coptic Orthodox Church
submitted requests for 2,600 churches and service buildings, the Catholic
Church 119, the Anglican (Protestant) Church 1,070, the Episcopal Church 15,
and the Adventist Church 5.)
even with these statistics, el-Sisi’s move to open the Middle East’s largest
cathedral, as dubbed by the government, was seen as a symbolic message of
tolerance in the predominantly Muslim nation, and a glimpse of hope for
Christians in the country.
real face of Indonesia': Video of singing nun joining Islamic pop performance
(THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A video showing Christian nuns singing
and dancing with a qasidah (Islamic pop music) group went viral over the
weekend, with netizens praising it as a heart-warming example of interfaith
acceptance amid rising intolerance across the country.
video was first uploaded to the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) YouTube
channel last Wednesday (Jan 16) and went viral after Twitter user @qasimin, who
specialises in making memes out of qasidah music videos, tweeted a clip of the
video the next day.
to the KWI's official website, mirifica.net, Sister Yunita of the Sisters of
Charity of St Charles Borromeo had practised with the Miftahul Jannah qasidah
group before taking the stage at a celebration for the anniversary of the Jakarta
Archdiocese's Civita Youth Camp in Ciputat, Banten. Her fellow nuns joined in
as background dancers.
song performed by the group was called Jilbab Putih (White Headscarf) and
Sister Yunita pointed to her own white headscarf when singing the lyrics.
headscarf, symbol of holiness," the nun and the qasidah group sang.
"White headscarf, like light that is shining in the middle of a dark
users applauded the video and chimed in with their own examples of religious
an ethnic-Chinese and a Christian that once joined in singing qasidah at
school, I like this," Twitter user @jen_l4u said.
doesn't lessen our faith but strengthens our unity," @benobenyoh said.
real face of Indonesia," gushed @dapedwepe.
video comes not long after a cross in a cemetery of a predominantly Muslim
neighbourhood of Yogyakarta was destroyed because residents objected to a
Christian symbol in the public burial ground.
cross-shaped mosaic in Surakarta, Central Java, was also recently painted over
despite denials that it had anything to do with Christianity.
ISIS 'terrorists' shot dead were 'innocent': Government
Pakistani authorities on Sunday admitted that three of the four ISIS
"terrorists" who were killed in an encounter with police in Punjab province
were "innocent" even as 16 personnel involved in the shootout have been
have arrested 16 personnel of counter terrorism department (CTD), and a premier
intelligence agency allegedly involved in the encounter that took place in
Sahiwal district, 200 kilometres from Lahore on Saturday. An FIR has also been instituted
against them," Punjab law minister Basharat Raja told a news conference.
said the officer who was leading the operation has been suspended from service.
a resident of Lahore, his wife, their 13-year-old daughter and their neighbour Zeeshan,
were on their way to a wedding in Burewala when they were shot dead by police
in Zeeshan's car in the Qadirabad area on Saturday morning.
CTD in a statement however said that Zeeshan was an active member of the
Islamic State terror group and a phone call was intercepted from Afghanistan in
which an ISIS commander had directed other members of the network to hide after
the killing of Zeeshan.
couple's three minor children in the car however survived. Their minor son
sustained a bullet injury while their two daughters were unhurt.
the killings, the CTD claimed to have shot dead four ISIS
"terrorists" including two women in what it said was an "intelligence-based
Sunday, the CTD declared Khalil and his family as "innocent", saying
"neither Khalil nor his family members knew that Zeeshan was an ISIS
terrorist who supplied ammunition to other members of his network".
said Zeeshan offered a lift to Khalil and his family to Burewala only to
transport ammunition and explosives.
usually do not check a vehicle with women and children," the CTD said,
adding that the first shot was fired by Zeeshan when his car was intercepted by
the police. In the return of fire Zeeshan and the three others were killed.
killing of the three innocents sent shock waves across the country as Prime
Minister Imran Khan expressed grief.
CTD did a great job in the fight against terrorism but everyone must be
accountable before the law," Khan said on Twitter.
soon as the joint investigation team's report comes, swift action will be
taken. The government's priority is protection of all its citizens," Khan
Punjab government has said it will look after the surviving children of Khalil.
CTD said that Zeeshan was also involved in the killing of three ISI
intelligence officers in Multan, a police officer in Faisalabad and in the
kidnappings of American national Warren Weinstein and Ali Haider Gilani, son of
former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
opposition has condemned the killings and demanded the government bring the
culprits to justice.
talk with Pakistan if Taliban are being represented by the country: Ghani
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that the government would talk with Pakistan if
the Taliban group is being represented by Pakistan or any other regional
made the remarks after registering as presidential runner in the headquarters
of the Independent Election Commission this afternoon.
have two options; to be represented Pakistan and other regional countries, or
they should represent themselves as Afghans,” President Ghani said, adding that
the Afghan government would negotiate with Pakistan if the Taliban are being
represented by Pakistan.
Ghani also added that the Taliban should return to home if the group prefers a
return as Afghans.
latest remarks by President Ghani come amid ongoing efforts to launch direct
peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban group.However, the
Taliban group has so far refused to participate in direct talks with the
government emphasizing that the group prefers direct negotiations with the
United States mainly focusing on complete withdrawal of the foreign forces.
Tehran on Jan. 8 during a meeting with European envoys, Iranian officials
abruptly stood up, walked out and slammed the door in an extraordinary break
French, British, German, Danish, Dutch, and Belgian diplomats in the Iranian
foreign ministry room had incensed the officials with a message that Europe
could no longer tolerate ballistic missile tests in Iran and assassination
plots on European soil, according to four EU diplomats.
was a lot of drama, they didn’t like it, but we felt we had to convey our
serious concerns,” one of the diplomats said. “It shows the relationship is
becoming more tense,” a second said.
Iranian official declined to comment on the meeting.
next day, the European Union imposed its first sanctions on Iran since world
powers agreed the 2015 Vienna nuclear arms control deal with Tehran.
sanctions were largely symbolic but the stormy meeting encapsulated the
unexpected shift in European diplomacy since the end of last year. Smaller,
more dovish EU countries have joined France and Britain in a harder stance on
Tehran, including considering new economic sanctions, diplomats say.
could include asset freezes and travel bans on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and
Iranians developing the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program, three
new approach moves Europe closer to US President Donald Trump’s policy of
isolating Iran with tough sanctions even though European governments still support
the 2015 Vienna deal from which he withdrew in May.
there are diverging views in Europe, the shift could have consequences for
President Hassan Rouhani’s government as it looks to European capitals to
salvage that deal.
could also strengthen anti-Western sentiment in Iran and lead to more
aggressive Iranian moves around the Middle East, where the Islamic Republic is
involved in several proxy wars.
firing of short-range ballistic missiles into Syria on Sept. 30, missile tests
and a satellite launch this month have niggled Western powers.
Europe, alleged assassination plots by Iran on French and Danish soil in 2018
were the last straw, diplomats say.
denies the plots and says the missile tests are purely defensive.
accusations against Iran over the past few months have awoken a few countries
in Europe that were against a tougher line on Iran,” a European-based Middle
East diplomat said.
same day as the meeting, the Netherlands publicly blamed Iran for killings on
its soil in 2015 and 2017. Tehran denies any involvement. Then on Jan. 9, the
EU designated a unit of Iran’s intelligence ministry a terrorist organization,
froze its assets and those of two men.
the Dutch for example. They had kept very quiet until the Danish attack and now
they are more hawkish than the French,” said the diplomat.
by Trump’s “America First” policy, Europe considered his May 8 decision to pull
out of the Iran accord a severe setback but Iran’s international ambitions
appear to offer Brussels and Washington a chance to work more closely.
US State Department official said there was now “a growing international
consensus” on the range of Iranian threats.
US welcomes Europe’s efforts to counter Iranian terrorism on European soil, its
missile launches, human rights abuses, and other threats,” the official said.
the Trump administration accused Iran last year of harboring nuclear ambitions
and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant
groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, the EU sought dialogue with Tehran.
meetings between European and Iranian diplomats last year, Britain, France,
Germany and Italy, pressed for gestures on Iran’s role in Syria’s war and for
alleged help to end the conflict in Yemen.
multiple bilateral talks on the ballistic missile program have yielded no
EU tried to show Iran that compliance with the nuclear accord would still mean
economic benefits despite Trump’s decision to re-impose US sanctions and choke
off Iranian oil exports by pressuring US allies.
European Union is set to officially launch a mechanism, the special purpose
vehicle (SPV) to trade with Iran later this month but it will not be
operational for several months. It will be registered in France, run by a
German and likely to include Britain as a shareholder.
a feeling of frustration among Britain, France and Germany, and others, after
the first phase of diplomacy with Iran,” another senior EU diplomat said. “We
thought we could get some effort from the Iranians in several areas.”
says Europe may not be able to safeguard the nuclear deal anyway and accused
European officials of dragging their feet.
Deputy Foreign Minister and senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi said last
week “operational steps” were needed from Europe as political support not
Ahmad Jannati, head of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts said on Thursday
Europe “would do nothing in our interest.”
Europeans are worse than the Americans. If not, they are not any better,” he
said, state TV reported.
March, as part of efforts to convince Trump to stick to the nuclear deal,
France, Britain and Germany proposed asset freezes and travel bans on the IRGC
and Iranian companies and groups developing the missile program, according to a
document seen by Reuters.
a similar set of measures is being prepared, three diplomats say.
prefer not to take these measures, but they need to stop trying to kill people
on our territory and over the last three years they have beefed up their
ballistic program,” said one senior European diplomat.
diplomats say getting all 28 EU members to agree will take time.
EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, who helped seal the 2015 deal, is wary of
moving too fast for fear of provoking a complete collapse of the accord, four
foreign ministers planned to issue a rare joint statement on Jan. 21 about what
they say is Iran’s interference in the region and calling for an end to missile
tests. Diplomats said Mogherini wants to see the SPV established first.
EU official denied any split in policy between Mogherini and EU governments,
saying the statement will be published as soon as the SPV is launched.
diplomats said eastern European governments could also go too far against Iran
to please Trump in return for security guarantees against Russia.
diplomats said there was a risk that a two-day conference in Poland in February
focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, convened by US Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo, could divide eastern and western Europe.
is unable to attend due to another official engagement, an EU official said,
and it is not clear at what level France, Britain and Germany will be
a Muslim aristocrat's art collection became a national treasure
In this city of Charminar and Golconda Fort, of pearls and palaces, Salar Jung
Museum stands tall as it boasts of the largest one-man collection of antiques
and art treasures in the world.
on the banks of Musi River, Salar Jung Museum welcomes you as you enter the old
city, popular for historical monuments, opulent palaces, mouth-watering cuisine
and a distinct culture.
one walks through 40 galleries of this spectacular museum, it takes a visitor
through an amazing journey to a bygone era rich in aristocratic history and
culture. The artefacts on display at India's third largest museum are unique
and range through varied periods of time and places in the world.
popular as the world's largest one-man collection of antiques, it is actually
the collection by three generations of a family of nobles who served as prime
ministers of Nizams, as the rulers of princely State of Hyderabad were known.
The family, with the title Salar Jung, was famous for its zeal for acquiring
art objects from around the world. The tradition started with Nawab Mir Turab
Ali Khan, Salar Jung I. His prized possessions included the 'Veiled Rebecca',
an enchanting marble statue acquired by him from Rome in 1876.
Laiq Ali Khan, Salar Jung II, died at the young age of 26. The majority of
nearly 50,000 artefacts were collected by Nawab Mir Yousuf Ali Khan, Salar Jung
III. An art connoisseur, he resigned as prime minister of the Nizam in 1914 and
devoted his life to collecting artefacts from various parts of the world.
precious and rare art objects collected by him for about 40 years find place in
the portals of the Salar Jung Museum, which spellbinds history lovers, art
aficionados and heritage students.
Ali Khan visited Europe and other parts of the world to collect art objects.
Later, traders from various countries used to come to Hyderabad to sell their
artefacts to him.
never spent his money on extravagant spending and never opted for big parties
and singing sessions. He invested his money in purchasing rare pieces of art
because of which over a period of time thousands of articles were stored in his
palace Diwan Deodi. He had this frenzy for collecting more and more and a time
came when he realized that there was no more space in his palace and he planned
to shift them to another palace but passed away before he could execute his
plans," Nawab Ahteram Ali Khan, a direct descendant of the Salar Jung
family and a member of Salar Jung Museum Board, told IANS.
Yousuf Ali Khan died a bachelor in 1949, the vast collection of precious art
objects and library were arranged in a museum in Diwan Deodi to perpetuate the
name of Salar Jung as a world renowned art connoisseur. It was opened to the
public by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on December 16, 1951. Thus the
Salar Jung Museum came into existence. The museum was administered by Salar
Jung Estate Committee till 1958, when the Salar Jung family donated the entire
collection to the Government of India.
the collection was distributed among shareholders, one day or the other it
would have been sold off or may have even gone out of the country. The most
important thing was to see that it remained in India and in a museum where it
could be displayed," said Ahteram Ali Khan, whose grandfather Nawab Mir
Turab Yar Jung was the first cousin of Salar Jung III.
Yar Jung was of the view that by donating it to the nation they were not doing
any favour but were only saving their own articles as it was felt that
preservation and restoration would incur lot of expenses and only an
institution like the Government of India could take care of them.
priceless collection was donated unconditionally. "Nobody else has done
this anywhere in the world. This family should be kept up in a high esteem but
it is most unfortunate that by just providing board membership to one member of
the family they think they are doing a great favour. What is important is
gratitude," feels Ahteram Ali Khan.
1961 by an Act of Parliament Salar Jung Museum was declared an institute of
national importance and from 1961 its affairs were managed by the board headed
by the state's governor. In 1968, the collection was shifted to a new building
constructed on the banks of the Musi river. Mir Turab Ali Khan Bhavan (Western
Block) and Mir Laiq Ali Khan Bhavan (Eastern Block) came up in 2000.
over 10 acres of land, the museum has 9,000 manuscripts, 43,000 art objects and
47,000 printed books. Galleries exhibit artefacts including the ones that date
back to the 4th century. It has Indian Art, Far Eastern Art, Children Art,
European Art, Middle Eastern Art and Founders' Gallery.
biggest attraction at the museum is the 19th century British Musical Clock.
Visitors assemble in the clock hall every hour to watch tiny mechanized figures
emerge through a door to strike the toy bell.
other prized possession of SJM includes veiled marble statue of Rebecca created
by Italian sculptor G. B. Benzoni. There is a set of ivory chairs presented by
Louis XVI of France to Tipu Sultan of Mysore.
Ali Khan believes the museum has art pieces in every category one can think of
as a treasure of art and history. He feels SJM can boasts of articles which
sometimes put even Europeans to shame. Veiled Rebecca, he points out, is one of
the four fabulous sculptures, Benzoni spent all his life on. The other three
are in France, UK and Italy.
you walk into Salar Jung Museum, you see life everywhere. Even the best of
European collections are without life. There is dent in French collection. We
have dressing table of Marie Antoinette (the last Queen of France before French
Revolution) Can you imagine. They would die to keep something like this in
collections on display include Indian Textiles, Arms and Armour, Indian
Miniature Paintings, Bidri Art, Arabic, Persian Manuscripts, Chinese
collection, European Clocks and Furniture, European Marble Statue, Egyptian and
Syrian Art, Far Eastern Statuary.
collection comprises more foreign than Indian artefacts and most of the art
objects are decorative pieces. We have collections from almost 33
countries," said A. Nagender Reddy, Director, Salar Jung Museum.
day 3,000 to 4, 000 people visit the museum and on weekends and holidays the
numbers go up to 6,000. Sometimes 12,000 to 13,000 people visit the museum on a
Gandhi's secularism was much more than just a religious yearning and he was
successful in forging Hindu-Muslim unity, a panel of historians and political
scientists said here on Sunday.
would like to say that Gandhi in the last few years of his life tried to make
sure that India's political leadership is committed to secularism. This is
something that is not generally realised," said Rajmohan Gandhi,
biographer-cum-grandson of the leader, during a discussion on Gandhi's Secularism
at the 10th edition of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF).
latest book was 'Why Gandhi Still Matters: An Appraisal of the Mahatma's
Gandhi, biographer of Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, mentioned that if
one reads carefully the history of the last few months of 1947, he would see
there was a possibility of India becoming a Hindu state and Pakistan, an
that time Gandhi played an active role in getting a clear written political
commitment. It was not just his religious yearnings," said.
about an incident when Gandhi was asked about rampant violence, his grandson
said: "He preached 'fear not-hate not', but Gandhi had mentioned that
'fear not' became popular while the latter did not".
consciously people knew that by acting on the feelings of ill-will or malice,
one would do great harm to Indian society, he said.
about Gandhi's religious yearnings, political scientist Tridip Suhrud said
"Ishwar Allah Tero Naam" is actually Bengal's gift, as young Manu
Gandhi (Gandhi's grand niece) was visiting Noakhali when these words were added
to 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram'( Hindu religious song). Gandhi told her that the
lines must be included whenever this prayer is sung.
is not denial of God, it is about deep faith. To think of Gandhi minus his
quest for religion would be to forget the most vital part of him. His life's
long quest was to see God face-to-face. The idea of secularism is very
differently constituted; it is constituted by 'samabhava'. This word is all
about equality and equitability," Suhrud said.
Gandhi's take on religion in politics, historian-cum-grandnephew of Netaji
Subhas Chandra Bose, Sugata Bose said: "We have to understand he was
describing non-violence, non-cooperation as a struggle of religion against
irreligion. He was not in favour of separating the domains of religion and
said that like many of his contemporaries in the early 20th century, Gandhi
believed that if religion is taken completely out of politics, it might be like
evacuating it of any sense of ethics.
he was very successful in forging Hindu-Muslim unity. His closest political
compatriots were Shaukat Ali and Mohammad Ali.
how Gandhi evolved with time, Bose said: "In the early 1920s he would not
dine with the Ali brothers and that he was also not in favour of
inter-marriage. But by 1940s, he honestly mentioned that now he is in favour of
inter-marriage and also approved inter-dining".
Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman and Minhajul Quran patron-in-chief Dr Tahirul
Qadri will visit India on the invitation of various Muslim organisations in
February, where he will address religious gatherings in several cities.
to the Minhajul Quran foreign affairs department, Dr Qadri will visit India in
the first week of February and address religious congregations in New Delhi,
Lucknow, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Kanpur and attend ceremonies to present the
Quran encyclopedia compiled by him.
to sources, the Indian interior ministry has given full security assurance to
will also attend an event on Pakistan-India relations where he would be
deliberating on Pakistan’s principled stance on Kashmir.
Qadri last toured India in 2016 when he addressed gatherings of thousands of
people about edicts issued against terrorism.
will also pay respects at the shrine of Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti.
Pakistani troops on Sunday violated ceasefire by firing at Indian posts along
the international border and Line of Control (LoC) in Kathua and Rajouri
districts of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.
no casualty was reported on the Indian side in the firing, which was retaliated
effectively and strongly by the forces, they said.
troops resorted to unprovoked firing on border outposts of the BSF in Hiranagar
sector around 11 am, the officials said, adding it was retaliated and the
exchange of fire lasted for a brief period.
was the third time in the past six days that Pakistan violated ceasefire in
this sector. Last Tuesday, a border security force or BSF official was killed
when he was hit by a Pakistani sniper from across the border.
troops also fired on Indian army positions and the villages along the LoC in
Naushera sector of Rajouri district from 1 pm to 3 pm, the officials said.
said several mortar shells from across the border hit the forest area but there
was no report of any damage.
the international border, the Pakistani troops have been violating ceasefire
along the LoC in the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch almost on a daily
basis since the beginning of the year.
chief Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday alleged that Muslims in Jammu are “feeling
vulnerable”. She also alleged that the Gujjar-Bakerwal community is being
(as CM) had issued an order that till the time the Forest Act comes into force
in Jammu and Kashmir, the Gujjar Bakerwal community shouldn’t be disturbed. We
were hopeful of the same treatment under the Governor-led administration… But
unfortunately, under the nose of Governor, this time there is selective
targeting of Gujjar-Bakerwals (in Jammu),” Mehbooba said.
said she met Governor Satya Pal Malik and told him about the matter. “I want to
say that Muslims in Jammu are feeling vulnerable. I was hopeful that after the
Governor’s assurance, nothing of this sort would happen again. He assured me
that for the time-being, they (Gujjar-Bakerwals) won’t be disturbed… But
unfortunately, excesses are happening with these people,” said Mehbooba.
former CM warned, “If they don’t take care of this fragile situation, it can
have dangerous consequences not only for Jammu but also for Kashmir…”
DEHLI: Indian politician, television personality and former cricketer Navjot
Singh Sidhu on Sunday shared pictures of letters he wrote to Prime Minister
(PM) Imran Khan and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as the 55th birth
anniversary of Baba Nanak draws close.
his letters, Sidhu warned against any disfiguring of the historic Kartarpur
Sahib Gurdwara on the Pakistani side and Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara on the Indian
side in the name of “commercialisation” and “tourist comforts”.
sacredness and serenity of Kartarpur Sahib and Dera Baba Nanak Gurdwara Sahib
await the footfalls of our pilgrims. Yet precisely our footfalls have the power
to erode the history, architecture and ecology of these sites,” wrote Sidhu.
must move primarily on foot with an exception only for the elderly, disabled or
sick, along with providing accessible amenities such as toilets. Personal
transport should be eschewed at all costs,” he suggested.
militants are reported to have been killed by security forces in Jammu and
Kashmir’s Budgam district. An encounter broke out early in the morning on
Monday in Budgam’s Zinpanchal, Chrar-e-Sharief.
encounter is still underway between security forces and a third terrorist.
encounter began when security forces, acting on information about militant
presence in Hapatnar forests of Chrar-e-Sharief, began a cordon and search
the cordon was being tightened, the hiding terrorists fired upon the security
forces triggering the encounter which is presently on,” news agency IANS quoted
the police as saying, adding that the area is mountainous and reinforcements
have been rushed in. The gun fight is going on amid rains and snow in the
is the first encounter in central Kashmir’s Budgam this year.
to close UNRWA schools in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds
authorities are planning to shut down schools in occupied East Jerusalem
al-Quds run by the United Nations refugee agency for Palestinians.
Ma'an news agency reported on Sunday that Israel would revoke permits allowing
schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to continue to work next school year.
October 2018, Nir Barakat, the former mayor of al-Quds, had said that
administration for schools, clinics and sports centers, among other services,
would be transferred to Israeli authorities.
Meshasha, the spokesperson for UNRWA, said in a press statement on Sunday that
Israel was violating the refugee convention over its plan.
existence in Jerusalem (al-Quds) is not a gift from Israel," the
spokesperson said, adding, "There are bilateral agreements binding on
Israel to respect the agency's installations, jurisdiction and immunity in
addition, Israel is a party to the 1946 Refugee Convention, and such attempts
are in violation of this convention."
Ashrawi, a member of the executive committee of the Palestinian Liberation
Organization (PLO), said in a statement carried by official Palestinian news
agency, Wafa, that the Israeli decision was "a direct insult to the
international community and disregard for its laws and decisions and
provocative step deliberately targets Palestinian refugees and their rights
guaranteed by international and humanitarian law," Ashrawi said.
also targets Jerusalem and its institutions within the framework of the
occupying state's strategy of Judaizing the Holy City, promoting the policy of
ethnic cleansing, forced displacement, extending control over all aspects of
life, and imposing new facts on the ground," she added.
runs seven schools in two refugee camps in occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds,
serving a total of 3,000 students.
Israeli plan is the latest blow to the agency after the United States’ decision
last year to halt its funding.
President Donald Trump had already angered Palestinians by his December 2017
recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's
"capital" and cutting more than $200 million in bilateral aid for
Gaza and the West Bank.
that time, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas formally declared that
Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the
conflict because Washington was "completely biased" towards Tel Aviv.
in 1948, UNRWA was established to deal with the mass displacement of
Palestinians to Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, following the establishment of the
then, the descendants of those Palestinians who continue to be displaced have
benefited from several UNRWA initiatives, including educational facilities.
to UNRWA, the agency provides health clinics, schooling for 526,000 refugee
children and food assistance to 1.7 million people, a million of whom living in
Yemen’s army reclaimed strategic mountain ranges in the Kitaf district in the
northern Saada province from Houthi militants on Sunday night, Saudi state-news
channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.
soldiers recaptured the strategic mountains of Wadi Al-Tamm and Jabal Al-Saif
after clashes with the Houthis, which left six militants dead, according to a
military statement issued on Yemen’s official news agency.
in Saada, seven Houthis - including leaders - were killed in a Yemeni army
bombing in Ash-Shami front.
is ready to take over security in Syria’s Manbij, President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan told US President Donald Trump in a telephone call on Sunday, the
Turkish presidency said in a statement.
said an attack that left four Americans dead last week in Manbij was an act of
provocation aimed at affecting Trump’s decision last month to withdraw US
troops from Syria.
attack occurred nearly a month after Trump confounded his own national security
team with the surprise decision on Dec. 19 to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from
Syria, declaring ISIS extremist group had been defeated there.
claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack.
is controlled by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militia allied to
the US-backed Kurdish YPG, which last month invited Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad into the area around the town to forestall a potential Turkish
deems the YPG terrorists linked to the Kurdish PKK movement that has waged a
decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.
and Trump agreed to accelerate and continue discussions between their chiefs of
staff regarding a safe zone in the area, the statement said.
week, Trump suggested in a tweet creating a safe zone, without elaborating. The
SDF said on Wednesday it was ready to help create the safe zone, as fears grow
that the US withdrawal will give Turkey the opportunity to mount a new assault.
wants the safe zone to be cleared of the Kurdish group.
military said its air defense systems intercepted a rocket fired from Syria on
Sunday, after Damascus accused Israel of carrying out air raids.
short while ago, a rocket was fired at the northern Golan Heights and was
intercepted by the ‘Iron Dome’ aerial defense system,” an Israeli military
military spokeswoman told AFP the rocket was fired from Syria. No further
details were immediately provided.
state news agency SANA, quoting a military source, said Syrian air defenses
earlier Sunday responded to Israeli air raids in the south of the country.
defense systems “prevented Israeli air strikes from achieving their objectives
in the south” of Syria, the report said without giving further details.
head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, Rami Abdel Rahman,
said the region targeted was south of Damascus near the Kisweh area.
containing weapons for Syrian regime ally Hezbollah and Iranian fighters are
located in that area,” Abdel Rahman said.
the head of the Observatory - which is based in Britain and relies on a network
of sources inside Syria - said it was not clear if these stores were hit in the
has pledged to stop its main enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in
top military commander says although the United States spent a total of 7,000
billion dollars in Iraq and Syria, it has achieved nothing while the Islamic
Republic gained a lot despite its very low spending in those countries.
of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad
Baqeri made the remarks while addressing a gathering of the Iranian Armed
Forces’ senior officials in Tehran on Sunday.
Americans spent 7,000 billion dollars in Syria and Iraq and achieved nothing,
what we spent [in those countries] was very low, but [we had] all these
important and strategic results and achievements due to perseverance, jihad,
hard work, good thinking, [as well as good] management and guidance,” Iran's
top commander added.
noted that the Islamic Republic and the resistance front have succeeded in
making major breakthroughs in the fight against Takfiri terrorism in the Middle
emphasized that Daesh has been dismantled in Syria and Iraq and said,
"Despite all efforts by enemies, countries that created terrorist [groups]
are now standing in line to open their embassies in Syria and Iraq."
top military commander added that the enemy is increasing its security,
cultural and soft threats against Iran in a bid to create a gap between the
Iranian nation and the Islamic establishment with the purpose of making people
give up their belief in the Islamic Revolution's ideals.
enemy is currently taking advantage of new methods like cognitive warfare and
development of psychological operations in order to achieve its ominous
goals," Baqeri said.
a reversal from previously stated US policy, President Donald Trump ordered
early in December a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of US troops from Syria as he
vowed the United States would no longer be the "policeman of the Middle
in December, US President Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw
American troops from Syria, saying he is "just doing what I said I was
going to do" during his 2016 election campaign.
I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places. Now when I start getting
out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job
before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are
working," Trump wrote on Twitter.
reaction to Trump's decision, Baqeri said the United States is only fueling
insecurity in the Persian Gulf through its presence in the strategic region.
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says
Israel’s demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned structures in the
West Bank soared by 10 percent last year as the Tel Aviv regime continues with
its land expropriation policies in the occupied territories in blatant defiance
of international law.
in Area C, which makes over 60% of the area of the West Bank and is under full
Israeli military control, the number of structures targeted in both years was
approximately the same and stood at 270, occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds
recorded a 25% increase compared to 2017. Of all structures targeted during
2018, 56 were donor-funded humanitarian aid structures, representing a 46%
decline, compared to 2017 figures,” the UN body said in a report published on
report added that two of this month’s demolitions were on what Israeli
officials described as punitive grounds, and the rest were due to the lack of
difficult-to-obtain Israeli building permits.
70% of the structures targeted this month were in Area C. The largest incident
took place on December 4th in the Beit Hanina – al-Marwaha neighborhood, a
community on the 'Jerusalem al-Quds side’ of the wall barrier, where eight
commercial structures were demolished and goods were confiscated.
families, who reported a financial loss of almost 1.5 million Israeli shekels
($400,000), were affected. In another incident, the livelihoods of 70 people
were affected by the demolition of a leather store on the margins of al-Bireh
City near the Ramallah district,” OCHA pointed out.
1967, the Israeli regime has been enforcing the draconian policy of demolishing
the homes of those Palestinians who are deemed by Tel Aviv to be behind fatal
attacks against Israeli settlers. The practice, however, was temporarily halted
from 2005 to 2014, with the exception of 2009, when scores of homes were sealed
and razed in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
in 2014 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced as a policy the
resumption of demolitions in the occupied West Bank.
Aviv has been occupying the West Bank, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, since
taking the Palestinian territory by force in 1967. Ever since the occupation,
it has been propping up settlements throughout the land, in a move condemned by
the United Nations, and considered illegal under international law, which bans
construction on occupied territory.
occupied Palestinian territories have witnessed new tensions ever since US
President Donald Trump announced his decision on December 6, 2017 to recognize
Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital and relocate the US embassy in Israel
from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.
dramatic shift in Washington’s policy vis-à-vis the city triggered
demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt,
Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.
December 21 that year, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted
in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial
recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli “capital.”
an attempt to avert the resolution, Trump had warned that “we’re watching,”
threatening reprisals against countries that backed the measure, which had
earlier faced a US veto at the UN Security Council.
however, rejected the world body’s resolution while thanking Trump for his
decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.
January 18, 2018, the United States reneged on a pledge to contribute $45
million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in
the Near East (UNRWA), which supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian
refugees and their descendants.
announcement to cut aid to Palestinian refugees came after the US president
made a threat to cut off aid to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency.
a series of tweets on January 2 last year, Trump said that the US paid “the
Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year” and yet gets “no
appreciation or respect.”
Turkish prosecutors have prepared the charge sheet against a local employee of
the US consulate who was arrested over alleged links to the network of US-based
cleric Fethullah Gulen, Demiroren News Agency (DHA) reported.
is accused by Ankara of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016, in which he
denies all involvement.
worker Metin Topuz’s arrest in October 2017 added to existing tensions between
the United States and Turkey, and led to a months-long suspension of bilateral
between the two NATO allies have been strained over US support for Kurdish
fighters in northern Syria, Turkey’s plan to buy a Russian missile defense
system, and the US jailing of an executive at a Turkish state bank in an Iran
is in jail along with two other local consulate employees, as is a Turkish-US
national and former NASA scientist who faces terrorism charges. Washington wants
all of them to be released.
quoted from Topuz’s 78-page indictment, which stated that he had very close
contact with police officers suspected of playing a role in the coup attempt.
The news agency said the document listed President Tayyip Erdogan and former
Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, among others, as complainants.
Turkish law, a judge would now decide if Topuz’s case should proceed to trial.
prosecutor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
has repeatedly demanded that the United States extradite Gulen to Turkey. The
cleric has lived in self-imposed exile since 1999.
has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil
servants over suspected links to the coup attempt, according to the UN human
says security forces killed 14 militants in Sinai
Egyptian security forces say they’ve killed 14 militants and seized a ton of
explosives in an operation in the restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula.
said on Sunday that their offensive involved clashes with Islamic militants in
desert areas outside the city of el-Arish, adding that the extremists had
intended to plant roadside bombs in areas between there and the cities of Rafah
and Sheikh Zuweyid.
weapons caches including explosives were found in the more central Sinai Jabal
Al-Halal mountain area.
officials spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief reporters.
army has been battling extremist insurgents led Daesh militants in north Sinai
for years. The area is off limits for journalists, diplomats and other
observers so information from there cannot be independently verified.
Syrian air defenses managed to intercept all the seven Israeli missiles, while
some reports said the Syrian army shot down all the seven missiles, adding that
the remains of one of the intercepted missiles was found in a farm in rural
reports said that the missiles were fired by Israeli fighter jets flying in
Southern Lebanon's air space.
the Arabic-language service of Russian Sputnik news agency quoted local sources
as saying that the Syrian Army's air defense shield has repelled attacks by
Israel on targets near Talol al-Ahmar East of the town of Hazar South of
Damascus and North of Quneitra province.
sources noted that the Israeli fighter jets were continuously and intensely
flying over the Occupied Golan Heights concurrent with the attacks.
to the tensions in Quneitra Front after Israel's failed attack on Damascus
suburbs today, they reiterated that the battlefield was the scene of missile
exchanges between Syria and Israel.
Arabic-language service of Al-Mayadeen news network reported that four Israeli
fighter jets fired missiles towards Damascus through Lebanon.
Russian Defense Ministry also announced that Israel's attack on Damascus
Airport did not leave any casualties or losses.
source went on say that the Syrian army's air defenses destroyed all the seven
missiles fired by Israel.
Sham Times news website quoted a military analyst as saying that there is a
link between the Israeli airstrikes and terrorist attacks in the outskirts of
Damascus which took place earlier today.
Sunday morning, the Syrian security forces foiled a terrorist attack in the
outskirts of Damascus.
terrorists tried to explode a parcel in Southern al-Motehaleq near a Syrian
Army military point in the suburbs of Damascus, but the Syrian Army foiled
their attempt, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.
Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV network announced that an explosive package was
seized from the terrorists and defused it through controlled detonation in
Southern Al-Motehalaq region in the outskirts of Damascus.
the Syrian State-Run news agency reported that a terrorist has been arrested in
connection to the foiled terrorist attack.
sources also reported that the Syrian Army destroyed several terrorists'
targets, killing and wounding a large number of them.
sources also said that the Syrian Army engaged in heavy clashes with the ISIL
terrorists in the Northeastern part of Jabal al-Gharb in Eastern desert of
Palmyra, killing and wounding a number of militants as well as destroying their
a relevant development on Friday, the Syrian Army in a ambush operation foiled
an attempt by the Washington-backed terrorists stationed in Al-Tanf region near
the border with Iraq on secure positions around Palmyra in Homs province,
killing a number of them.
Syrian Army's military units in Eastern Homs, conducted an ambush and managed
to foil an attempt by a group of terrorists supported by the US who intended to
penetrate into secure regions in Southern Palmyra through al-Hableh Desert from
Syrian Army troops in their military operations destroyed the military vehicles
belonging to the terrorists, killing all the militants and seizing a large
volume of weapons and military equipment.
Eastern Palmyra, the Syrian Army units also warded off an attack by another
terrorist group on al-Talileh region 20 kilometers from Palmyra, arresting
three terrorists and seizing their military equipment.
the terrorist groups carried out several attacks on Syrian Army's military
positions in desert regions of Homs province from al-Tanf region which is under
the occupation of the US-backed militants.
Syrian Army destroyed several terrorists' targets, killing and wounding a large
number of them.
military said on Monday it struck Iranian Quds targets inside Syria and warned
Syrian forces not to attack Israeli territory or forces.
air strikes and ground-to-ground missiles killed at least 11 fighters including
two Syrians, a Britain-based war monitor said.
bombardment hit Iranian and Syrian targets around Damascus as well as near a
military airport to the south of the capital, the Syrian Observatory for Human
military air defenses also destroyed more than 30 cruise missiles and guided
bombs during Israeli air strikes on Sunday, Russia’s defense control center was
quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
air strikes targeting an airport in southeastern Damascus killed four Syrian
soldiers and wounded six, the military center was quoted by RIA news agency as
saying on Monday.
state news agency Sana said its military air defenses had thwarted “hostile
targets” and shot down several of them, without elaborating.
in Damascus said loud explosions rang out in the night sky.
have started striking Iranian Quds targets in Syrian territory. We warn the
Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory,”
Israel’s military said in a statement.
overnight strikes followed cross-border attacks on Sunday in which Syria said
it repelled an Israeli air attack. Israel said it intercepted a rocket fired at
the Golan Heights.
have a permanent policy, to strike at the Iranian entrenchment in Syria and
hurt whoever tries to hurt us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said
Israeli army also said a popular winter tourist site on Mount Hermon in the
Israeli-controlled Golan Heights would be shut for the day. It added that
otherwise things remained “routine” along the frontier with Syria.
last week acknowledged an Israeli attack on what he called an Iranian arms
cache in Syria, where Tehran provides Damascus with vital support.
told his cabinet Israel had carried out “hundreds” of attacks over the past
years of Syria’s war to curtail Iran and its ally Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
bomb in the northwest Syrian town of Afrin killed three civilians and wounded
nine on a public bus, Reuters witnesses said on Sunday.
blast came on the anniversary of Operation Olive Branch, an air and ground
assault launched by Turkey in 2018 on the mainly-Kurdish Afrin to drive out the
Syrian Kurdish YPG, which it sees as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan
Workers Party (PKK) that has waged an insurgency on Turkish soil since 1984.
group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
follows a blast on Wednesday in Manbij, a northern Syrian town controlled by a
militia allied with US-backed Kurdish forces, claimed by ISIS, which killed two
US troops and two civilians working for the US military.
President Tayyip Erdogan announced last month that his army would launch an
operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates. US President Donald Trump
later announced a decision to pull out of Syria, alarming allied Kurdish
leaders who run much of the north.
Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group dominated by the YPG
and Washington's main Syrian partner in the fight against ISIS, controls
territory in northeast and eastern Syria, which makes up about a quarter of the
US decision to leave Syria led the Kurdish leaders to urge Russia and its ally
Damascus to send forces to shield the border from the threat of the Turkish
media reported on Sunday that the country’s air defenses have thwarted an
Israeli aerial attack on targets in the capital Damascus, intercepting and
shooting down several missiles.
military source told Syria's official news agency SANA that "at 01:10
o’clock (local time) on Monday, January 21, 2019, the Israeli enemy launched
land and air strikes and through successive waves of guided missiles."
source added that "immediately our air defenses dealt with the situation
and intercepted the hostile missiles, downing most of them before reaching
their targets as they continue their heroic response to the aggression."
to Press TV’s correspondent, the attack lasted for over an hour, and the
explosions were the loudest in months.
said a military airport near Damascus were among the targets. Israel’s military
claimed immediately after the attack that it had struck Iranian targets in
attack came a few hours after a similar incident, in which Syrian air defense
forces repelled an Israeli aerial aggression in the Arab country’s south.
air defense systems thwarted ... an Israeli air aggression ... and prevented it
from achieving any of its goals," SANA quoted an unnamed military official
as saying on Sunday, without giving further details.
report added that the rare daylight missile attack had targeted localities in and
around the Syrian capital, Damascus. Nearly all Israeli missile attacks have so
far occurred overnight or during the early hours of the day.
Russia's National Defense Control Center, cited by RIA news agency, said in a
statement that the Israeli assault was conducted by four warplanes and targeted
an airport in southeastern Damascus.
further cited the center that the attack had not left any victims and that the
airport was not damaged.
January 11, the Syrian military said its defense units managed to shoot down
“most” of Israeli missiles fired toward Damascus late at night.
Israeli regime launches airstrikes on the Syrian territory from time to time.
Such aggressive moves are usually viewed as attempts to prop up terrorist
groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government
President Michel Aoun has urged world powers to “make all efforts” to help the
repatriation of Syrian refugees as Syrian forces continue to liberate the
country from the clutches of foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorist groups.
calls on the international community to make all efforts possible and provide
suitable conditions for a safe return of displaced Syrians...,” Aoun told an
Arab economic summit in Beirut on Sunday, noting that Lebanon would suggest
solutions for safe refugee returns in the meeting's final statement.
official National News Agency reported on December 24 last year that more than
1,000 Syrian refugees had returned to their homeland from various areas in the
return of refugees took place in the southern Lebanese cites and districts of
Tripoli, Arsal, Tyre and Nabatieh, and under the supervision of Lebanon's
General Security in cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for
returned home using buses sent by Syrian authorities and arrived at al-Zamrani,
Jdeidat Yabous, al-Dabbousiya border crossings from Lebanese territories.
refugees underwent medical checks and polio vaccines were administered to
children. They were then transferred to Syria’s northern and central provinces
of Idlib and Homs in addition to other areas in the crisis-stricken Arab
than 1,000 Syrian refugees returned to their homeland from different areas in
Lebanon, including Nabatieh, Bekaa, Tripoli and Shabaa on December 16, 2018.
Elnashra online independent newspaper reported that the return of refugees took
place under the supervision of Lebanon's General Security Directorate in
cooperation with the Lebanese army.
than one million Syrian refugees are registered with the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon.
air defense thwarts Israeli strike near Damascus: State media
air defense forces have thwarted an Israeli aerial aggression in the Arab
country’s south, state media say.
air defense systems thwarted ... an Israeli air aggression ... and prevented it
from achieving any of its goals," Syria's official news agency SANA quoted
an unnamed military official as saying on Sunday, without giving further
report added that the rare daylight missile attack had targeted localities in
and around the Syrian capital, Damascus. Nearly all Israeli missile attacks
have so far occurred overnight or during the early hours of the day.
Israeli military has yet to comment on the strike. However, it said in a
statement that the regime’s so-called Iron Dome interceptor system managed to
shoot down a Syrian rocket over Mount Hermon at the northern part of Syria’s
Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
was not immediately clear whether the incoming projectile was part of a
retaliatory attack by the Syrian army or a Syrian air defense missile that was
shot during the aerial confrontation, but made its way toward a locality in the
results of the aggression so far were limited to a strike on one of the
warehouses at Damascus airport," SANA quoted an unnamed military source as
saying at the time.
Israeli regime launches airstrikes on the Syrian territory from time to time.
Such aggressive moves are usually viewed as attempts to prop up terrorist
groups that have been suffering defeats at the hands of Syrian government forces.
October 2018, Moscow equipped Damascus with the advanced S-300 surface-to-air
missiles, days after Israeli warplanes attacked Syrian targets using a Russian
surveillance plane flying nearby as a shield, misleading the Syrian air
defenses to shoot it down.
then Israel has been very careful with its operations over Syria.
seeks peace with Muslim self-rule vote
Philippines: A decades-long push to halt the violence that has claimed some
150,000 lives in the southern Philippines culminates Monday with a vote on
giving the nation's Muslim minority greater control over the region.
poll is the final step in a peace deal with the Catholic-majority country's
largest Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has
been a key force in a separatist insurgency that has raged since the 1970s.
areas of the proposed Bangasmoro region, located on the southern island of
Mindanao, are expected to vote overwhelmingly to join it.
tired of the violence because my father is one of the victims," said
22-year-old Jembrah Abas, adding he was slain by unidentified attackers after
advocating for peace.
election "is on the 20th anniversary of his death. I'm so sick of the
violence", she told AFP.
2.8 million voters will be watched over by a contingent of 20,000 police and
soldiers, amid fears rival insurgent groups could use violence to try to
disrupt the poll.
peace process began in the 1990s and does not include hardline Islamist
factions, including those aligned with the Islamic State group, which are also
active in the southern Philippines.
motive is to sow terror," Philippine national police chief Oscar Albayalde
said, referring to the rival groups. "They don't really have any other
government and MILF hope that a new, stable Bangasmoro will attract investment
to a region where brutal poverty and perennial bloodshed has fuelled
recruitment by radical groups.
Rodrigo Duterte, who also hails from Mindanao, has long backed the creation of
an autonomous region for the island's Muslims.
the terms of the law which lays out the region's powers, Bangasmoro will get
US$950 million in development funds over the next 10 years, as well as chunk of
the tax revenue generated within its borders.
national government will keep control over the police, though the leadership of
the autonomous area will be closely involved in security matters.
results are expected to be released within four days of the voting, with an
approval triggering the demobilisation of a third of MILF's fighters, which it
says number 30,000.
rebels have long been battling for independence or autonomy on Mindanao, which
they regard as their ancestral homeland dating back to when Arab traders
arrived there in the 13th century.
fact, the new entity would enlarge and replace a similar autonomous zone in the
same part of the southern Philippines, which struggled to complete development
projects and was plagued by violence.
proposed region includes the city of Marawi, which was seized by jihadists
flying the black flag of IS in 2017 and who were only dislodged by a five-month
battle that flattened swathes of the town.
say the devolution of powers to the region is one of the best opportunities in
recent memory to bring down the persistently high levels of lawlessness in the
corruption and mismanagement are perennial problems across the nation of 105
million, and doubts remain over whether resources promised for development
would find their way to Bangasmoro.
also said not all groups would support the change.
the short term, there are a number of groups and politicians that are going to
lose out," Gregory Wyatt, director for business intelligence at PSA
Philippines Consultancy, told AFP.
there are significant short term risks."
JAYA: The Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPMM) today said there is
nothing wrong with the trademark dancing at the Opening of the Legal Year (OLY)
2019, but asked why the chief justice got on stage.
president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said Chief Justice Richard Malanjum, Chief
Judge of Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas
and de facto law minister VK Liew should have turned down the invitation to go
up on stage.
my view, it is not an offence for the organisers of the OLY 2019 to have
performances to enliven the dinner. This is because this is done in Sabah and
Sarawak,” Zainul Rijal said in a statement.
issue is not about the dinner and the performances but about why these
high-ranking individuals from the judiciary danced and were seen to be friendly
with other government branches and private lawyers.
though they were invited to the stage, to protect the sanctity of the
institution that they lead, they should have rejected the offer.”
four were seen in a clip dancing to the tune of “Let’s Twist Again” along with
lawyers Siti Kasim and Ambiga Sreenevasan at the event co-hosted by the Sabah
Law Society (SLS) and the Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS) in Kota
Kinabalu on Friday.
a separate statement, AAS president Ranbir Singh Sangha refuted any suggestion
of impropriety and said it was done in good taste.
said it was disappointing that certain quarters were attempting to misinterpret
a “social and harmonious occasion reflecting our East Malaysian hospitality”
and politicise it for whatever reasons.
who criticise may not know about the morals and ethics that are culturally held
high in East Malaysia at such events.
AAS will, in fact, invite the chief justice, the attorney-general and judges in
attendance to enter into a dance competition with the advocates and other
invited guests at the next OLY 2020 to be held in Sarawak,” he said.
president Brenndon Soh had earlier also said it was disappointing that certain
groups were attempting to politicise the matter.
a separate statement, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in
charge of legal affairs Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the incident had been blown
out of proportion.
said the function was just another tradition of the legal fraternity whose
other customs, sometimes regarded as “very English”, include a “call to the
bar” by trainee solicitors and using expressions like “my learned friend” in
dinner and dance which has been turned into a ‘hot topic’ for no reason is, in
fact, one of these traditions.
I admit it may look a bit western and seen by the ‘holier-than-thou’ as not
for me, supporting and giving ‘life’ and ‘oxygen’ at one time to a kleptocratic
regime is also not very Islamic or shariah-compliant,” he said.
leaders from both sides of the political divide have also criticised the
conduct of the top members of the judiciary at the event.
JAYA: A lawyer has dismissed claims of judicial misconduct over the chief
justice’s participation in a dance during a dinner event last week, saying the
commotion over the matter is merely “a storm in a teacup”.
Iskandar Syed Jaafar Al Mahdzar also rubbished any need for a tribunal on the
issue, saying the call for such a panel was motivated by race and religion.
call to establish a tribunal to try the chief justice is misconceived as
dancing at a social event is not judicial misconduct,” he told FMT.
Iskandar was responding to the Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia (PPMM),
which had suggested that the prime minister recommend that the king set up a
tribunal to take action against Richard Malanjum for dancing at the opening of
the Sabah and Sarawak legal year in Kota Kinabalu.
president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the king had the authority to sack a
judge if the tribunal found him in breach of ethics or guilty of any other acts
warranting action under the law.
Syed Iskandar questioned where Rijal and PPMM had been when then-chief justice
Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim asked his judges and registrars to dance and
sing in the presence of lawyers at a judges’ conference in Kota Bahru.
where was PPMM when then attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali danced in public
with Barisan Nasional and Umno Cabinet members?”
Iskandar said the mindset of the legal fraternity in East Malaysia differed
from the communal and religious extremism which he claimed formed part of
commonwealth jurisdictions will laugh at us if a tribunal is set up,” he added.
suggested that PPMM concentrate on making known its views on incompetent judges
who fail to deliver their written judgments.
125 can be used to discipline judges who refuse to write their grounds of
judgments, not those who indulge in social activities in the open,” he said.
issue surfaced following a video clip which showed Malanjum, Chief Judge of
Sabah and Sarawak David Wong Dak Wah, Attorney-General Tommy Thomas and de
facto law minister Liew Vui Keong dancing to the tune of “Let’s Twist Again” at
the event organised by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) on Friday.
notable personalities on stage were former Malaysian Bar presidents Ambiga
Sreenevasan and Christopher Leong, and lawyer-activist Siti Kasim.
had said Malanjum, Wong, Thomas and Liew should have rejected the offer when
they were invited to the stage.
SLS president Brenndon Soh said it was disappointing that certain groups were
attempting to politicise the matter.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs Mohamed
Hanipa Maidin said the incident had been blown out of proportion although
everyone had the right to express their views.
a former lawyer, said the function was just another tradition of the legal
fraternity whose other customs, sometimes regarded as “very English”, include a
“call to the Bar” by trainee solicitors and using expressions like “my learned
friend” in court.
I admit it may look a bit Western and may be seen by the ‘holier-than-thou’ as
not shariah-compliant,” he said.
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said members of the judiciary must be mindful of their
conduct, while Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin recalled criticism against Apandi for
dancing with ministers.
Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla meanwhile said Malanjum and Thomas dancing
together with the executive could have a negative impact on the perception of
Indonesian government made a bold statement three years ago when it put five of
the most dangerous radical clerics in isolation cells to limit their influence
beyond the prison walls.
rights were tightened, with only immediate family allowed. But now, with the
election approaching, the most senior among these five - 80-year-old Abu Bakar
Bashir - has received President Joko Widodo's blessings for release on parole
on humanitarian grounds.
academics told The Straits Times that the move by Mr Joko, who is seeking
re-election in April, is a political call as he woos Islamist votes. But this
will have repercussions, they warned.
controversial decision was meant to counter accusations by certain quarters
that Mr Joko is anti-Islam and that he prosecutes or criminalises ulama, said
Dr Noor Huda Ismail, a visiting fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of
International Studies (RSIS).
is good for the current political situation. This is a short-term political
decision with challenging long-term repercussions," said Dr Huda, an
Indonesian journalist turned academic. He explained that Bashir is considered
to be an ulama by certain quarters.
Joko, 57, is set to square off with his only rival, Mr Prabowo Subianto, 67,
who has played the religion card and has been seen cosying up to radical
clerics during campaigns ahead of the April 17 presidential polls.
include Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, who is in self-exile in the Middle East to
avoid charges by the Indonesian police over violating pornography laws and
insulting the state ideology Pancasila.
has been serving his 15-year prison term since 2011 for funding a terrorist
training camp in Indonesia's Aceh province.
is widely seen as the spiritual leader of South-east Asia terrorist group
Jemaah Islamiah (JI), which operates underground and continues to expand via
was the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, 80 per
cent of them foreigners. JI was also behind several other deadly bombings in
it or not, the parole hurts the victims' families. They still feel the wounds
today. They are from various partner countries to Indonesia," Dr Huda told
ST. "This is local politics that has ramifications regionally and internationally."
the United States, Japan and Germany are among the countries whose citizens
were killed in the bombings.
Quinton Temby, a visiting fellow in the Indonesia Studies Programme at ISEAS -
Yusof Ishak Institute, agrees that the parole given to Bashir is politically
Temby, an Australian national, said the timing of the early release was
probably designed to pre-empt potential criticism of Mr Joko, popularly called
Jokowi, over the imminent release of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja
Purnama, whose jail term for blasphemy will end on Thursday.
best known by his Chinese nickname Ahok, was sentenced to two years' jail in
May 2017 after a Jakarta court found him guilty of blasphemy against Islam. The
controversial sentence was handed down weeks after the political ally of Mr
Joko lost the Jakarta gubernatorial election to Mr Anies Baswedan.
Temby said: "We can see (the parole) as a piece with Jokowi's confused
strategy in dealing with the Islamist mobilisations around the Ahok blasphemy
ON REGIONAL TERRORISM
conditional release, according to Dr Temby, is unlikely to contribute to
regional terrorism because in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group,
he was more of a follower than a leader and his family is aligned against the
the political timing of his release will help to burnish his image as the elder
statesman of militant Islamism in Indonesia, even if it is an image that he
lacks the charismatic authority to live up to," added Dr Temby, whose
research interests cover Indonesia's political Islam and elections.
Malcolm Brailey, regional director for Indo-Pacific at The Stabilisation
Network, which produces research and analysis that contribute to efforts to reduce
violent extremism, echoed Dr Temby's views.
Brailey said Bashir's release is unlikely to have any wider impact in the
region among the network of Salaafi Jihadist groups with active operational
groups, represented by those including JI and ISIS, believe in strict Islamic
laws and violently spread and implement their ideology. Unlike ISIS, JI no
longer sees Indonesia as a battleground and its members do not consider
everyone else outside their group, including Muslims, as apostate (an ideology
of JI, an Al-Qaeda-linked organisation, do not get along with those affiliated
with ISIS. There have been reports of brawls between JI-affiliated inmates and
ISIS-affiliated inmates in prisons across Indonesia. Their rivalry here
reflects a turf war between ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Middle East and everywhere
influence and impact have waned significantly since the days of Jemaah
Islamiah..." Mr Brailey told The Straits Times.
is the founder of Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, more commonly
called Ngruki, which is known for producing militants.
Huda, an alumni of Ngruki and working to help with counter-terrorism efforts,
said that although Bashir's influence has weakened and he is frail, there is
still a possibility that he may revive his violent ideology as well as his
terror networks locally and overseas.
own family members remain disappointed with his oath of allegiance to ISIS and
should they manage to convince him to recant before his death, this may boost
the standing of those who remained steadfast outside, Mr Brailey said,
referring to those who do not support ISIS' caliphate claim.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) has promised to pass a bill to protect Muslim
clerics, religious figures and religious symbols as part of its bid to retain seats
in the House of Representatives after the 2019 general election.
the sake of maintaining the honor and nobility of ulema, religious leaders and
religious symbols, and in order to maintain the integrity and harmony of
inter-religious life, the PKS promises to fight for the protection bill in the
upcoming 2019-2024 period,” PKS chairman Sohibul Iman told a press conference
cited what he claimed to was an increase in “persecution against ulema” as one
of the reasons behind their plan.
and religious figures are very vulnerable to threats – whether physical,
non-physical or criminalization by law enforcement authorities – because of
their preaching,” he said, citing the rejection of popular preacher Abdul Somad
in Bali and Semarang, as well as the “criminalization” of Islam Defenders Front
(FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab.
also mentioned the burning of a flag bearing the Islamic creed tauhid in Garut
last year as an example of why the bill was needed.
PKS’ proposal has been sharply criticized by political parties in the coalition
supporting President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for being redundant and painting a
misleading picture of the treatment of ulema in the country.
faction at the House has the right to propose any law, but every law needs to
follow certain principles such as clarity of purpose and clear formulation,”
National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker Lukman Edy told The Jakarta Post
the purpose of the bill is just to further twist existing hoaxes, it certainly
does not fulfill the principles of formulating a law. The criminalization of
ulema is a hoax that is being spread by the PKS.”
Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Eva Sundari feared the bill would
only justify discriminatory practices against others.
bill is not necessary because everyone is guaranteed equal treatment under the
law no matter what their position is,” she said. “We shouldn’t create laws that
discriminate by giving privilege based on SARA [tribal affiliations, religion,
race and societal groups].”
added that everyone, including ulema, would be “fine” as long as they did not
commit criminal acts “such as hate speech and treason”.
Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), which has been vocal in its opposition to
policies on religion-based regional bylaws and polygamy, said the bill was
PKS deliberately came up with the bill to frame themselves as defenders of
ulema, while those who disagree with the bill will be seen as being in favor of
ulema criminalization,” PSI legislative hopeful Dara Nasution said. “This is
not the case, as every Indonesian citizen has the same standing before the
the PKS’ long-time ally in the Gerindra Party seems reluctant about supporting
Gerindra executive and deputy chairman of House Commission VII overseeing
social and religious affairs, Sodik Mujahid, said the PKS had to formulate
clear criteria before initiating the bill.
have to have a detailed definition of what the term ‘protection’ means and
specific criteria that determines which figures are eligible for protection,”
Sodik said. “It also has to be clear what the protection is for. Is it
protection from criminalization or politicization?”
PKS previously issued two other official campaign pledges: to abolish the tax
on motor vehicles and to remove expiry dates from driver's licenses in an
effort to boost its electability in the 2019 legislative race.
US military delegation led by US CENTCOM Commander General Joseph L Votel called
on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Sunday, said a press
release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
environment, regional security and Afghanistan peace and reconciliation process
were discussed in the meeting. The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan
Army’s efforts for regional peace and stability.
COAS reiterated that peace in Afghanistan was vital for regional peace. He said
that Pakistan, despite constraints, had contributed to all efforts for regional
peace and would continue to do so.
Thursday, US delegation headed by US Special Representative for Afghanistan
Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Commander Resolute Support Mission General
Austin Scott Miller also met COAS Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ).
Regional security environment and Afghan peace and reconciliation process was
delegation appreciated Pakistan’s efforts towards the peace process. The army
chief reiterated that peace in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and
assured continued efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region.
Saturday, Afghan Taliban repeated their refusal to deal directly with the
Afghan government. According to the US, any settlement in Afghanistan must be
between the internationally recognised Afghan government and the Taliban, who
have so far refused to talk to an administration they describe as an
illegitimate puppet regime. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said peace
talks with the US delegation could resume if they were assured that only three
issues would be discussed – a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, an exchange of
prisoners and lifting a ban on the movement of Taliban leaders.
December, delivering on its commitment to bring peace to the region, Pakistan
successfully brought the Afghan Taliban to the table in the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) for the talks between the militant outfit and US officials to
end the 17-year war in Afghanistan. The talks brokered by Pakistan concluded on
December 18 in Abu Dhabi. In a joint statement issued by the Afghan Taliban and
the US, both parties had agreed on carrying forward the peace process.
Minister Imran Khan’s announcement about the talks came days after US President
Donald Trump made a personal appeal to him to help end the war in Afghanistan.
Trump sent PM Khan a personal letter asking for his help in pushing the Taliban
into peace talks. The White House National Security Council said that Trump had
asked PM Khan in the letter to lend his “full support” to the deepening US
efforts to launch such talks.
the letter, the president recognises that Pakistan has the ability to deny the
Taliban sanctuary on its territory,” said a National Security Council
spokesman.“The letter also makes clear that Pakistan’s assistance with the
Afghan peace process is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan
Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that Trump had sought Pakistan’s
support in forging a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict.
The third anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack at Bacha Khan University
that claimed lives of 21 people was observed on Sunday.
January 20, 2016, around four terrorists entered Bacha Khan University in
Charsadda district, roughly 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the city of Peshawar
and killed 21 people and injured dozens.
some wounds have still not healed as Samiullah, former student and the only
person to survive from his room is still under treatment at the Queen Elizabeth
injuries were so severe that even after a year of the attack, he was victim to
constant headaches and could not speak for more than two minutes without
vigil was held for the martyrs while prayers were also held for them two days
ago. Students and families remembered the victims and the unfortunate day that
many lives were permanently altered.
Senior US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Sunday said that US President
Donald Trump should meet Prime Minister Imran Khan to boost Washington’s
Afghanistan peace efforts, calling the Pakistani prime minister an “agent of
Republican — an influential ally of Trump — made the comments in Islamabad
after meeting the premier, saying PM Khan was a “new partner” who could
potentially help with a peace deal in Afghanistan.
going to urge him (Trump) to meet with the prime minister as soon as
practical,” he told reporters, adding that he believed PM Khan and Trump would
“hit if off” because they have “similar personalities”.
Minister Khan is the agent of change that I have been looking for,” he added.
said that the previous transactional approach by the US administration towards
Pakistan should change into a broader strategic and economic relationship. He
noted with admiration the Pakistani government’s counter-terrorism efforts and
sacrifices of the armed forces in the war on terror, and for securing the
tribal areas, bordering Afghanistan. The change could be visibly seen in those
tribal areas, which were hit hard by the terrorism and militancy, with the
Pakistani government undertaking huge economic and educational reforms
programmes to integrate the tribal people into the mainstream of national
political and economic life, he added.
Prime Minister Khan as ‘a credible and convincing personality’, the senator
agreed that his stance towards a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Afghan
issue was correct and termed his meetings with the leadership of Pakistan very
positive and encouraging.
Senator Graham said he personally wanted to shift the US-Pak ties towards a
stronger strategic economic partnership as Pakistan had huge potential with a population
of about 100 million young people, who could be useful for US markets. He urged
the US businessmen to look into such business potential of Pakistan, which was
a good place for investment and could trigger prosperity for both the
countries. He also admitted that the US-Pak ties in the past were not good and
referred to US President Trump’s tweets about Pakistan.
he said, he was optimistic about a telephonic call from the US president to PM
Khan and a follow-up meeting sooner or later for future engagements of the two
countries. The US, he said, must look upon Pakistan and Afghanistan as the huge
economic opportunity and regretted that such vision by the US administration,
in the past, was missing. The US senator further stressed close working of the
US and Pakistan to ensure peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan and
recognised the significance of Pakistan as a major country in the region.
wished the same plans to secure the Pak-Afghan border on the Afghan side as had
been undertaken by Pakistan,” he noted with admiration the steps taken by
Pakistan security forces on the Pak-Afghan border. He said that the US wanted
all the countries in the region to play their role in the Afghan reconciliation
a query, he replied that the US could not afford to walk away from Afghanistan
after decades of long war and maintained that Taliban had to realise that they
must sit on the negotiation table by laying down arms and integrate into the
political life of Afghanistan under the Afghan constitution. “The time is not
on your side. The time is much on the US side. They cannot take away
Afghanistan by force. Afghanistan boasts of a stronger army as compared to
decades ago,” he emphasised. The negotiations were about something ‘to give and
take’, he added.
US senator defended the presence of US military footprints on the Afghan soil,
saying though, they were stationed only to train and help the Afghan soldiers,
but their presence was necessary to ward off terrorist outfits likes Al-Qaeda
and Daesh. He said that the people in Afghanistan no longer wanted to buy the
agenda of those terrorist organisations. About a question regarding impasse in
holding US and Taliban talks, he expressed his optimism for the continuation of
the reconciliation process.
US Senator Lindsey Graham called on PM Khan in Islamabad to discuss bilateral
ties and to review the regional security situation.
Khan reiterated government’s commitment to continue working with the US and
other regional stakeholders to find a political settlement in Afghanistan. He
underscored the need for normalising relations with all neighbouring countries
to unleash the potential of regional cooperation.
Minister stated that his economic team was constantly striving to evolve
business-friendly policies for potential investors which could be beneficial
for US companies as well.
Graham conveyed his appreciation of Pakistan’s positive role in the ongoing
efforts to find a political settlement in Afghanistan. He praised the prime minister’s
vision for a political solution to the Afghan conflict.
Graham lauded the vision of PM Khan to improve the economy, eliminate
corruption and create jobs for the people of Pakistan. Prime minister’s efforts
to normalise relations with neighbouring countries are noteworthy, he noted.
view of the historical linkages between Pakistan and the US, the two sides
agreed to deepen the bilateral economic ties particularly in the context of
trade and investment cooperation.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi hosted US Senator Lindsey Graham over a
luncheon meeting at the Foreign Office (FO) on Sunday. US Senator Graham is the
chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and senior member of Armed Services,
Appropriations and Budget Committees. He is visiting Pakistan at the invitation
of the foreign minister, which he had extended during his visit to Washington
in October last year.
US Senator Graham, FM Qureshi apprised him of the government’s priorities on
the external and internal fronts. He highlighted that PM Khan’s government had
come to power to implement extensive economic reforms, improve governance and
bring socio-economic development for the people of Pakistan. In order to
realise this people friendly agenda, a proactive foreign policy is being
pursued which, inter alia, seeks to develop a peaceful neighbourhood conducive
for stability and prosperity of the entire region, he added.
Qureshi informed US Senator Graham about Pakistan’s efforts for reconciliation
in Afghanistan. He said that peace and stability in Afghanistan was in
Pakistan’s interest as well as propitious for the progress of the South Asia
region. He also said that Pakistan’s continued overtures to engage India to
discuss all outstanding issues, including the core issue of Kashmir, were also
aimed towards the realisation of enduring peace in the region.
the need for a positive engagement with the Capitol Hill, FM Qureshi
underscored for broadening the discussions to deepen cooperation on bilateral
trade, investment and people to people contacts. He said that Pakistan would
welcome visits by US senators and congressmen to have first-hand information
about today’s Pakistan.
the foreign minister for hosting him, US Senator Graham conveyed the good
wishes of the US leadership to the government and people of Pakistan. He said
that the US was appreciative of Pakistan’s sincere efforts to facilitate the
Afghan reconciliation process which was a priority of the Trump administration.
He underlined the long term US commitment to the region.
Senator Graham maintained that in line with the historical linkages between the
two countries underpinned by close people to people contacts, Pakistan would
remain an important country for the US. He promised to campaign for
strengthening bilateral trade and economic cooperation with Pakistan which
would lay the foundation of strong, mutually beneficial and a sustaining
January 19, the foreign minister had said that Pakistan was trying to host the
next round of talks between the US and Afghan Taliban as such kind of dialogue
was in the interests of the Afghan government, Taliban and the entire region.
“Solution to Afghan issue is not possible without intra-Afghan dialogue and
Pakistan considers it vital for the restoration of peace in the entire region,”
Shah Mehmood Qureshi had said. However, the Afghan Taliban rejected media
reports that they were prepared to resume meetings with US special envoy Zalmay
Khalilzad in Islamabad and repeated their refusal to deal directly with the
Afghan government, as the US diplomat extended his stay in Pakistan in wake of
Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials killed two suspected terrorists in
a shootout in Gujranwala in wee hours on Sunday.
suspects, identified as Abdur Rehman and Kashif Langra, allegedly belonged to a
banned outfit and were gunned down in an exchange of fire, a CTD spokesperson
said, claiming that the two men were accomplices of ‘terrorist’ Zeeshan, who
was killed in Sahiwal on Saturday. The deceased were wanted for their involvement
in attacks on security forces and kidnapping of local and foreign citizens, he
to the anti-terror police department, the two alleged terrorists were residing
in Zeeshan’s house in Lahore and fled when they heard the news of Zeeshan’s
death in Sahiwal encounter.
CTD traced them down and killed them in a shootout, the statement said. Both
the ‘terrorists’ were wearing suicide jackets, it claimed.
Saturday, four people – including a man, his wife and a teenage daughter – were
killed while their minor son received bullet wounds in an alleged shootout in
personnel said they had killed a local commander of militant organisation Daesh
and three others in the operation.
officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) were Sunday booked under
terrorism charges for their involvement in Saturday’s alleged shootout that
killed four people, including a man, his wife and a teenage daughter. The case
was registered in Yousafwala police station of Sahiwal district in response to
a complaint by Jaleel Ahmed, the brother of Khaleel who was among those shot
dead by the CTD.
FIR was lodged under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal
Code along with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
of the slain family ended their protest after lodging of the FIR. They had
staged a sit-in overnight at GT Road demanding justice and prompt action
against the perpetrators, and had refused to be moved until a case was
registered against the incident.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar cahired a high-level meeting on Sunday over the
incident and vowed strict action against the perpetrators besides announcing to
personally look after the probe into the incident.
Afghan Special Forces and Coalition Forces have conducted separate operations
in northern Baghlan and southern Uruzgan and Helmand provinces over the past 24
hours, killing at least 15 militants.
to the informed military sources, Afghan Special Forces conducted a clearance
operation in Pul-e Khumri district of Baghal province, killing 12 Taliban
fighters and wounding 8 others.
coalition air strike in Tarin Kot of Uruzgan left 2 Taliban fighters dead, the
sources said, adding that in a separate coalition air strike in Sangin district
of Helmand province 1 Taliban fighter was killed.
the Afghan and Coalition Forces have stepped counter-terrorism operations to
suppress the anti-government armed elements.
Afghan forces are conducting the majority of the ground operations with the
support of Coalition air power.
Bangladesh has arrested a suspected Islamist extremist who supplied weapons and
explosives for a 2016 siege that killed 22 hostages, a top police official said
foreigners were among those shot and hacked to death in the 10-hour standoff at
the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upmarket cafe in Dhaka, before military commandos
stormed the building and freed some two dozen other people.
Rashid was a key “decision-maker” in Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a
banned homegrown Islamist militant outfit blamed for the attack.
30-year-old was arrested while travelling on a bus outside the capital Dhaka,
said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion.
“supplied money, arms, ammunition and explosives for the attack,” Khan told
hid in a neighbouring country and tried to reorganise the group. They were also
planning to rescue their accomplices from custody.”
former computer operator and Islamic seminary student, Rashid also provided
logistical support to Islamists involved in several deadly attacks on religious
minorities in the country’s north, Khan said.
court in Dhaka last month put eight militants on trial over the cafe attack.
said Rashid was one of the two men charged in absentia, while the other six
were already in custody.
Holey Artisan Bakery siege fuelled fears over violent Islamist groups in the
Muslim-majority nation of 165 million people.
government also launched a nationwide crackdown against extremists immediately
after the attack, killing nearly 100 alleged extremists in gunfights including
several top JMB leaders.
attack marked a violent escalation from a spate of high-profile murders in the
country since 2013, with extremists targeting Bangladeshi atheist writers,
rights activists, gays, foreigners and religious minorities.
car bomb attack, claimed by the Taliban militant group, has claimed the lives
of at least eight Afghan security forces in the country’s eastern province of
officials said the fatalities took place in Mohammad Agha district in the
restive province on Sunday morning.
said a bomber detonated his explosive-laden car close to a convoy of the
provincial governor on a major highway between Logar and the capital city of
Ahmadzai, the spokesman for Logar's provincial police, said 10 people were also
injured in the attack but the governor and the provincial chief of the
intelligence agency were unharmed.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident in a statement and said a
"large number" of Afghan special forces had been killed or wounded.
which is known as a strategic gateway to Kabul, is vulnerable to attacks due to
the Taliban's active presence there.
Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an
end in the wake of a US-led invasion in 2001, but 17 years on, the militant
group continues to challenge the government and thousands of foreign troops
remaining on Afghan soil.
US is currently pushing for a peace deal with the militants to spare its troops
but negotiations remain deadlocked over the Taliban demand that American forces
than 800 Rohingya refugees living in squalid makeshift camps in Bangladesh’s
Cox’s Bazar district have been infected with chickenpox since last December,
but residents of the camps expect the figure to surpass 1,000.
of Jan. 13, 832 Rohingya refugees living in the camps had been confirmed with
chickenpox, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on Jan. 15.
to an outbreak of chickenpox in the Rohingya camps, health sector partners led
by the Ministry of Health [in Bangladesh] and WHO have stepped up surveillance
and initiated measures,” the statement added.
has been further beefed up in the Rohingya camps,” said Dr. Bardan Jung Rana,
WHO representative to Bangladesh.
Rohingya refugees living in the camps expect the number to rise further.
Ali, 34, who was chosen by the Bangladesh government to help maintain law and
order in his camp, told Anadolu Agency that mostly women and children are being
know some in our camp [Kutupalang] who are suffering from this disease and have
taken normal medicine,” he said, referring to the standard tablet or capsule
for fever or headache and saline for dysentery that are normally distributed to
Khatun, 60, a Rohingya refugee from the same camp, said there are huge
mosquitoes and other insects as well as rats in the camp and many of the
refugees are suffering from various diseases.
are our constant company. We do not know the names of all the diseases. We just
take the available medicine we are served,” said 75-year-old Ali Ahmad.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced
heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in
to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and
children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces
launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August, 2017.
Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s
state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development
than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others
were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya:
The Untold Experience."
Myanmar border guard police have been wounded in an attack by Rohingya Muslim
insurgents in Rakhine state, government media reported on Saturday, amid fears
of escalating violence in the region.
10 armed attackers from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) ambushed a
border guard post near Wet Kyein village in Maungdaw township in the north of
the state on Wednesday, according to the government-controlled Myanmar TV
government spokesman could not be reached for comment.
has been roiled by violence for weeks, since fighting broke out between
security forces and another armed group, the Arakan Army (AA).
AA, which pre-dates ARSA, is a rebel group dominated by ethnic Rakhine
Buddhists that has been fighting for autonomy for the western state for around
which emerged with attacks on border posts in 2016, is focused on winning
rights for Rohingya, the mostly stateless Muslim minority long persecuted in
5,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes in the recent violence,
according to the United Nations.
crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Buddhist-majority Rakhine in 2017
triggered an exodus of about 730,000 Rohingya refugees to neighbouring
United Nations and Western governments denounced the military operations as
ethnic cleansing. Myanmar has said it was conducting a legitimate offensive
reports had attributed an attack on Wednesday in the same area to the AA, but
an official with the Maungdaw border guard police said ARSA, which had
previously attacked the security forces, was responsible.
first, it was a preliminary investigation, but now it is sure," Police
Lieutenant-Colonel Tin Han Lin told Reuters.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Khalilzad
has concluded his visit to Pakistan, expressing optimisms that the future steps
by Islamabad would lead to concrete results.
Khalilzad has described his meetings with the Pakistani officials as ‘good’ and
has added that the efforts are heading towards the right direction.
disclosing further information, Ambassador Khalilzad said in a Twitter post
“Just completed #Pakistan leg of my current trip in the region to advance the
peace process. Good meetings. I appreciate their hospitality & resolve to
push for Afghan peace. We’re heading in the right direction with more steps by
Pakistan coming that will lead to concrete results.”
extremists kill 10 UN peacekeepers in Mali
extremists carried out one of the deadliest attacks on a United Nations
peacekeeping mission in months, killing 10 peacekeepers and wounding at least
25 in northern Mali, the UN said Sunday.
of the peacekeepers killed in the assault on their camp in Aguelhoc were from
Chad, the UN secretary-general’s spokesman said in a statement. He strongly
condemned the attack, saying it may constitute a war crime.
“responded robustly and a number of assailants were killed,” the statement
said. Residents said the attackers in the Sunday morning assault arrived in
motorcycles and cars.
15,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Mali, established in 2013, is one of the
UN’s deadliest. The West African nation is under threat from a number of
extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS extremist organization, and
attacks have moved from the arid north to more populated central Mali.
UN mission is one of several military efforts to fight the extremists,
alongside Malian forces, France’s largest overseas military operation and a
recently formed five-nation regional counterterror force.
from Chad, a strong contributor to regional security efforts, have suffered
from the repeated assaults in Mali. As of the end of 2018, 51 Chadian
peacekeepers had died while serving the UN mission.
Thousands of Muslims commemorate terror victims
of Muslims took to the streets on Friday to show solidarity with the victims of
a deadly terror attack on a Nairobi hotel compound Tuesday that killed at least
closed their businesses in capital's Eastleigh suburb -- dubbed Little
Mogadishu -- to join politicians and residents in a march to commemorate
victims of the attack on the DusitD2 hotel compound, claimed by al-Shabaab
militants, and to condemn terrorism and shun divisive ideology.
victims included 16 Kenyan nationals, one Briton, one American and three individuals
of African descent who are yet to be identified.
militants first blew up their vehicle outside the compound and then stormed the
complex using guns and explosives.
Eastleigh suburb has been labeled by authorities in Kenya as the main
recruiting ground of youth into al-Shabaab.
Amina, a shop owner in the heart of Eastleigh, said that Muslims in Eastleigh
are always victimized and targeted by police whenever a terror attack occurred.
are Kenyans, we are not terrorists, two Muslims were killed at Riverside terror
attack, we are also crying, if they were fighting for Muslims, they would not
kill us, al-Shabaab does not have any religion, they are animals," she
we are out donating blood to those who need it, we are mourning so no
businesses will be opened, we are saying sorry to those who were injured and
condemning al-Shabaab, we support Kenya’s fight against them."
area MP Yusuf Hassan, who previously survived an assassination attempt by
al-Shabaab militants, was on the forefront leading the masses in Friday's
2013, he was injured when terrorists hurled a grenade at him as he left a
mosque. Five people were killed in that attack.
are here as a community in solidarity with all the people of Kenya who have
been affected by the terror attack and to remember the victims of the Riverside
attack, we are here to say no to terrorism, no to radicalization no to
of senior military official
of the attackers who was killed by Kenyan police at the hotel compound has been
identified as a son of a senior Kenyan military officer.
Salim Gichunge, a.k.a Farouk, is suspected to have crossed into Somalia
sometime in 2015, sources close to the investigation said.
father Abdala Salim and mother Sakina Mariam were summoned to the Directorate
of Criminal Investigations to assist with the probe.
security forces fired tear gas on Sunday at several hundred protesters and
chased them down side streets, a Reuters witness said, as anti-government
protests entered their second month.
protesters had blocked Al Arbaeen street, one of the main arteries in Omdurman,
across the Nile from the centre of the capital, Khartoum. Some raised two
fingers in victory signs as tear gas was fired at them.
30 trucks carrying security personnel, some in uniform and some in plain
clothes, were deployed to the area.
police say gunmen opened fire on Chinese construction facilities in an eastern
area, days after extremists claimed responsibility for a deadly attack in
police chief Joseph Boinnet says security forces fought off the attackers at
Shimbirey near Garissa town on Sunday.
are no reports of casualties.
an extremist group linked to al-Qaeda and based in Somalia, claimed
responsibility for a 2015 attack in Garissa that killed 147 people, mostly
renewed its official relationship with Israel yesterday, decades after the
African nation cut diplomatic ties.
office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the Israeli
leader, who is fighting corruption allegations, and Chadian President Idriss
Deby Itno had “announced the renewal of diplomatic relations” after more than
Netanyahu, posting on Twitter, called the announcement “a historic moment”.
in N’Djamena on the first visit there by an Israeli prime minister, he said
that “Israel is making inroads into the Islamic world”.
is the result of considerable effort in recent years. We are making history and
we are turning Israel into a rising global power,” Mr Netanyahu said.
broke off ties with Israel in 1972 but he has been courting the Muslim-majority
country. Mr Deby visited Israel in November.
substance of their talks is unclear but there has been speculation that an arms
deal to help Chad fight rebels in the north of the country may have been at the
centre of the drive to mend ties.
is engaged in the battle to defeat Boko Haram, the ISIS offshoot based in
Deby is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term
in April 2016 to lead the country of about 15 million people.
is one of the world’s least developed states, the World Bank’s Human
Development Index says, and its government has been accused of widespread human
rights abuses and rigged elections.
Netanyahu has tried to improve ties with countries in the Arab and Muslim
world, and said he expected similar diplomatic breakthroughs soon.
Arab states refuse to have diplomatic ties with Israel because of its
occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, territories that Palestinians
want as part of a future state.
Palestinians and Iran opposed Chad’s move and Mr Netanyahu appeared to aim
remarks at both parties.
are those who tried to sabotage this trip, but they were unsuccessful,” he
Netanyahu is under increasing pressure at home as Israel’s attorney general is
reportedly preparing to indict the prime minister on corruption charges.
avoid the impact of an indictment, Mr Netanyahu called early elections for
April to tackle any leadership challenge with a new mandate.
has sped up attempts to secure diplomatic victories abroad to detract from his
Netanyahu also attended the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
this month, making attempts to lobby the right-wing leader about moving
Brazil’s embassy to Jerusalem.
Army study of its Iraq invasion concludes Iran was 'the only victor'
US army has described Iran as “the only victor” in its two-volume, 1300-page
study of its brutal invasion of Iraq.
report, complete with over 1,000 declassified documents, is a comprehensive
assessment of the US' mistakes and
successes during its destructive war effort.
spans the 2003 military occupation of Iraq through the US withdrawal, the rise
of Daesh (ISIL) terror group, and what it refers to as the influence of Syria
the time of this project’s completion in 2018," Iran seems to be "the
only victor,” the authors wrote in the concluding chapter of the study
published by the US-based Army Times on Friday.
study -- commissioned by former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno in 2013
and continued under current chief Gen. Mark Milley -- was postponed for release
since 2016, when it was originally completed.
report noted that the postponement was due to concerns over airing “dirty
laundry” about decisions made by some leaders during the conflict.
further identified the authors as Col. Joe Rayburn and Col. Frank Sobchak, both
Iraq War has the potential to be one of the most consequential conflicts in
American history. It shattered a long-standing political tradition against
preemptive wars,” the authors wrote. “In the conflict’s immediate aftermath,
the pendulum of American politics swung to the opposite pole with deep
skepticism about foreign interventions.”
his foreword to the study, Odierno wrote that “those who rejected the idea that
there is an operational level of war in counterinsurgency were wrong.”
further noted that following the war, the US entered “another historical cycle”
like wars in the past, where civilian and military leaders debate the utility
of land power. He then pointed directly to an overtaxed Army at even higher
troop levels than they are now.
to the report, one issue raised repeatedly in the study is the lack of troops —
within the deployed brigade combat teams, available for other operations such
as the war in Afghanistan, and lack of an operational reserve in theater for
responses to major events.
of the study, the report added, include validations of criticisms made at the
time the war was being fought, and others that were not foreseen and only
understood in the years that followed.
authors further noted that technology could not always make up for manpower
shortages, that coalition warfare was “largely unsuccessful” for several
reasons, that failing to account for a lack of understanding of the inner
workings of Iraqi politics and group struggles meant some military unit actions
did exacerbate problems.
early 2003, the US, backed by the UK, invaded Iraq under the pretext that the
regime of Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). No such weapons,
however, were ever found in Iraq.
than one million Iraqis were killed as a result of the invasion, and the subsequent
occupation of the country, according to the California-based investigative
organization Project Censored.
withdrawal to drag neighbours back into Afghan war, warns report
The Taliban will lose interest in negotiating peace and Afghanistan’s
neighbours will get even more involved in war if the United States withdrew its
forces, a US report warns.
a Republican senator, Rand Paul, said after a recent meeting with Donald Trump
that the US president was ready to end America’s 17-year involvement in
report — co-authored by two former US special envoys for Afghanistan and two
former defence officials — highlights the consequences of a possible withdrawal
of half of the 14,000 US from Afghanistan that President Trump suggested last
report — written for the RAND Corporation, a US think-tank that specialises in
defence affairs — argues that Pakistan, Russia, Iran, India and Uzbekistan,
have a history of backing various ethnic groups, such as the Pashtuns, Tajik,
Uzbek, and Hazara. “These relationships will likely be reinforced as the
central government’s financial base collapses, its writ weakens, and its
cohesion erodes,” the report warns, adding that a US withdrawal will do both —
undermine the Kabul government and weaken the Afghan economy.
has long tolerated and facilitated use of its territory by the Taliban. In the
event of a precipitous US withdrawal, Pakistan will likely become more open in
its backing,” the report claims.
has long rejected such claims as “negative speculations”, insisting instead
that it no longer allows any terrorist group to use its territories for carrying
out attacks inside Afghanistan.
authors also note that since 2001, Russia and Iran have generally supported the
Kabul government but, in recent years, they have also “provided limited aid to
the Taliban as a hedge”.
point out that the Taliban’s main goal in “recently energised” talks with the
US “is a negotiated timetable for a US military withdrawal”. An early
withdrawal, they argue, will cause the insurgents to “lose interest in
negotiating peace with the United States”.
authors also underline US expectations from the talks: Taliban forswearing ties
with extremist groups, denying such groups access to Afghan territory, and
becoming part of a new Afghan political and security architecture that is
agreed upon among Afghans.
Taliban leaders receive or come to expect a cost-free US withdrawal, they will
have little incentive to bargain with the United States or with the US-backed
Afghan government,” the authors warn.
report also highlights other consequences of an early US withdrawal, such as:
Other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) forces also leave Afghanistan.
The US and other international civilian presence is sharply reduced. External
economic and security assistance diminishes. Power moves from the centre to the
periphery. Responsibility for security increasingly devolves to regional
militias and local warlords.
Taliban extend their control over territory and population but encounters
resistance. Afghanistan descends into a wider civil war.
deaths rise sharply and refugee flows increase. Extremist groups, including Al
Qaeda and Daesh, gain additional scope to organise, recruit and initiate
terrorist attacks against US regional and homeland targets.
Paul, however, says that he returned with his White House meeting with
President Trump with the impression that he believes “we’ve been at war too
long and in too many places”.
general, “the idea is that we’re going to do things differently. We’re not
going to stay forever. The Afghans will have to step up”, he added.
US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said on Friday that the plan to withdraw
troops from Afghanistan and Syria was a “tactical change” that does not affect
the mission to defeat terrorism.
a series of tweets from Islamabad, US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay
Khalilzad noted that “many are concerned the United States is willing to both
talk and fight” with the Taliban.
me be clear: the US wants peace,” wrote Mr Khalilzad, indicating that he saw
no dichotomy in the two positions.
achieve peace, we are ready to address legitimate concerns of all Afghan sides
in a process that ensures Afghan independence and sovereignty, and accounts for
legitimate interests of regional states,” he wrote. “Urgent that fighting end.
But pursuing peace still means we fight as needed.”
an interview to Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of America’s largest media
conglomerates, Secretary Pompeo pointed out that the “war against terror” was
a long struggle and America wants to stay engaged in this struggle with support
from the rest of the international community.
tactical change in one place or another, adding a few soldiers, taking some
soldiers down, these are tactical changes. They don’t change the mission set,”
Declaring that Pakistan and the United States have entered a new “strategic
partnership” for economic gains and peaceful settlement of the 18-year-old
Afghan conflict, leading US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has said that he
will request President Donald Trump to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan soon to
cement the bilateral relations further.
senior senator made the announcement while addressing a press conference at the
US embassy shortly after meeting PM Khan on Sunday.
Graham also claimed that the prime minister had endorsed the Trump
administration’s plans that the US should keep its presence in Afghanistan and
continue the reconciliation process.
meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan, I would urge President Donald Trump to meet
Mr Khan as soon as practical. I would also urge him (the president) to meet the
prime minister sooner or later and push a joint agenda for peaceful resolution
of Afghan conflict,” he added.
senator said he had paid over 50 visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan with his
colleague Senator John McCain, who recently passed away, but it was for the
first time that he observed a drastic change in Pakistan. He said PM Khan and
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa were seriously trying
to eradicate terrorism and resolve Afghan conflict. “Today Pakistan is most
reliable strategic partner than yesterday’s,” he added.
termed it a “big change” as besides military efforts the government of Pakistan
was also trying to economically develop tribal areas to overcome militancy
to a question about the actual purpose of his visit, Senator Graham said: “I
did not come here to negotiate with Taliban but to see a new opening for
reconciliation in Afghanistan which I’d never seen before.
time there is a lot. I can see a change in Pakistan in terms of peace in
Afghanistan. Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has been doing a lot
in Pakistan’s tribal areas and destroyed sanctuaries of Taliban. Pakistani
armed forces should continue these efforts as these are better than any other
time,” he added.
Graham, who frequently visits American troops stationed overseas for on-the-ground
assessment, said Prime Minister Imran Khan was new and different. “Earlier our
(Pak-US) relations were transactional that if you give us this we will give you
that and if you don’t give us this we will take away that from you,” he said.
said PM Khan wanted to get rid of the transactional relationship and wanted
Islamabad to have a strategic relationship with Washington. “Pakistan is a
nuclear country and it should go forward instead of looking backward,” he
Prime Minister Khan, we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship
and I will also tell President Trump that Prime Minister Khan wanted change in
Pak-US relations,” the senator said.
said both Pakistan and the US also wanted free trade agreement to help former
in prevailing economic crisis. “It will be a game changer for Pakistan, whereas
IMF loan will stabilise Pakistan on a short term basis,” he said.
Graham also vowed to enhance trade with Pakistan saying 200 million young
Pakistanis could become good customers of US products.
in Afghanistan would end through reconciliation, he said, adding that it was
not only in the interest of the US but also of others. He elaborated that it
was not in the interest of Pakistan or anyone else that Taliban reoccupied the
Afghanistan by force. “I would also ask President Trump that vast majority of
people of Afghanistan do not want to go back to those days when Taliban were
ruling. Children want to go to school and they need us. The people of
Afghanistan deserve better,” he added.
said Taliban had realized that Pakistan and rest of the world would not allow
them to take back Afghanistan. “This is the change and more robust Afghan armed
forces than they were in 2004. Now time is not on your (Taliban) side,” he
the leading Republican senator called on the prime minister. They discussed
bilateral ties and reviewed the regional security situation.
official press release said the senator conveyed his appreciation of Pakistan’s
positive role in the ongoing efforts to find a political settlement in
Afghanistan. He praised Mr Khan’s vision advocating a political solution to the
Graham also lauded his vision to improve the economy, eliminate corruption and
create jobs for the people of Pakistan. “Prime minister’s efforts to normalise
relations with neighbouring countries were note worthy,” he observed.
on the occasion, the prime minister reiterated his government’s commitment to
continue working with the US and regional stakeholders to find a political
settlement in Afghanistan. He highlighted the need for normalising relations
with all neighbouring countries to unleash the potential of regional
Khan said his economic team was constantly striving to evolve business-friendly
policies for potential investors which could be benefited by the US companies.
In view of the historical linkages between Pakistan and the US, the two sides
agreed to deepen the bilateral economic ties particularly in the context of
trade and investment cooperation.
the US senator met Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at a luncheon at
Foreign Office and COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at dinner at the army’s General
Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Senator Graham, Mr Qureshi apprised him of government’s priorities on the
external and internal fronts and said a proactive foreign policy was being
pursued which, inter alia, sought to have a peaceful neighbourhood conducive
for stability and prosperity of the entire region.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African
Muslim News, Arab
World News, South
Asia News, Indian
Muslim News, World
Muslim News, Women
in Islam, Islamic
In Arab, Islamophobia
in America, Muslim
Women in West, Islam
Women and Feminism