Books and Documents

Islamic World News (31 Oct 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Tanzeem-ul-Madaris: ‘Roots of Extremism and Militancy Lie in Intolerance and not listening to Others’ Point of View’

Photo: Yemeni protesters raise signs depicting the victims of an August Saudi airstrike on a school bus, in Sa'ada on September 5, 2018. (Photo by AFP)


Marital rape is un-Islamic, says SIS

Yemen death toll five times higher than UN estimates: Report

US requested release of Taliban founder to help peace talks


Tanzeem-ul-Madaris: ‘Roots of Extremism and Militancy Lie in Intolerance and not listening to Others’ Point of View’

Pakistani court acquits Christian facing death for blasphemy

Youth role in eradication of terrorism, extremism sought

Teachers asked to encourage dialogue to foster social harmony

Ulema, Mashaikh council announce setting up of provincial offices

Maulana Fazlur Rehman eyeing at Islamabad instead of Islam: Rashid

Family arrested for trespassing on Azam Swati’s farmhouse freed

Bilawal assures protesting journalists of his party’s support

Iranian FM arrives ‘unannounced’ in Pakistan for ‘key talks’

School principal in Peshawar sentenced to 105 years in prison for child abuse


Southeast Asia

Marital rape is un-Islamic, says SIS

Yemen: Silence is not an option for Malaysia

Jail term suspended, ex-President Nasheed set to return home to Maldives tomorrow

Malay groups insist ICERD ratification harms special position of their community



Yemen death toll five times higher than UN estimates: Report

Erdogan vows to crush U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters east of Euphrates in Syria

Israeli army opens probe into killing of Gaza medic

Turkish military says kills seven Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

Turkey: Joint patrols with US forces in Syria’s Manbij to begin imminently

Yemen is sovereign, won’t accept American diktats: Foreign minister

Turkey to launch larger operations in northern Syria: Erdogan

Saudi prosecutor refuses to answer Turkey’s questions on Khashoggi: Columnist


North America

US requested release of Taliban founder to help peace talks

How do white Muslims experience Islamophobia?

Anti-Muslim sentiment drives Muslims into US politics

US schools rethinking Saudi funding: Associated Press

Mattis calls for Yemen ceasefire, peace talks within ‘next 30 days’

US State Department urges all parties to end hostilities in Yemen, focus on peace on efforts

Algerian-Irish extremist sentenced to 15 years in US jail


Arab World

Blast kills three Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims in Iraq - police

US Attacks Deir Ezzur with Banned Weapons Again

Iraqi Security Forces Kill Suicide Bomber before Reaching Arbaeen Pilgrims

‘Saudi-led coalition sends 10,000 of troops to Hudaydah ahead of new offensive’

Notorious Ankara-Backed Terrorist Commander Killed in Al-Bab

Terrorists Pass Chemical Cargos to Each Other in Hama

Guterres letter to UN Security Council announces new Syria envoy

Hundreds of Kurdish fighters arrive in eastern Syria to help fight ISIS



Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati's idea of a modern India

JeM chief Masood Azhar’s nephew among two militants killed in Tral encounter

Internet gag hits Indian Kashmir students


South Asia

Bangladesh's EC scraps fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami's registration

Gen. Votel reaffirms support to Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism

Bulldozing the past: Myanmar erasing evidence on Rohingya

Oikya Front won’t bring Jamaat-e-Islami to dialogue, Obaidul Quader hopes

Suicide bomber detonates outside Kabul prison, killing 7

Five senior Afghan Taliban leaders join Qatar’s political office: spokesman

9 Taliban militants killed in AAF airstrikes in Nangarhar province

Several feared dead, wounded in a suicide attack near a prison in Kabul



Nigerian group says troops shot, killed 27 Shiite Muslims

Jordanian PM says govt takes full responsibility for Dead Sea flood casualties

Mass killings ‘blight’ on reputation: Nigerian leader

Somalia: Al-Shabab says blast killed 30 Ethiopian soldiers



Denmark recalls ambassador to Iran over foiled attack

British generosity on show as £80k raised for Syrian child's spinal surgery

UK Foreign Secretary to MPs: I had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi plot

Merkel underlines importance of civil society in Egypt

'Jamal Khashoggi deserves a dignified burial'

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/tanzeem-ul-madaris--‘roots-of-extremism-and-militancy-lie-in-intolerance-and-not-listening-to-others’-point-of-view’/d/116759



Tanzeem-ul-Madaris: ‘Roots of Extremism and Militancy Lie in Intolerance and not listening to Others’ Point of View’

October 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at the Paigham-e-Pakistan conference here on Tuesday stressed that reasoning and debate is the right way to convince others as enforcement of beliefs through force or coercion has serious consequences for peace and tranquility in a society.

“Roots of extremism and militancy lie in intolerance and not listening to others’ point of view, which wipe out moderation and foster extremism in a society,” said Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Vice President (VP) Allama Raghib Naeemi while addressing the seminar.

He said that an emphasis must be laid on inclusive citizenship as all citizens, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, should enjoy equal rights in Pakistan. “An individual declaring another person as an infidel is against the teachings of Islam. It is a very dangerous approach and the Muslim Ummah should play its role to counter such trends,” he said, adding that punishing anyone for any wrongdoings is the purview of the state and the judiciary.

“Individuals must not take law into hand for punishing the sinners or wrongdoers,” he stated.

Naeemi reminded that Islam preaches peace and harmony, giving a very clear message of the respect for humanity. “Saints and Sufis have always propagated love and brotherhood. There is no place for terrorism, extremism, intolerance and narrow mindedness in Islam,” he said while adding that ulema, mashaikh, scholars and intellectuals need to play their role to save society from destruction.

Other speakers said that Paigham-e-Pakistan was a unanimous declaration of scholars from all schools of thought against the menace of terrorism and was in fact, a message of prosperity and peace in Pakistan. They said the unanimous narrative was a step in the right direction, reiterating that Pakistan was an Islamic state believing in peace, tolerance, justice and love.

At a separate event organised by the Islamic Research Institute (IRI) Faisal Mosque Campus, speakers stressed the need to raise awareness among students on how to play their role in eradicating the menaces of terrorism and extremism from society.

Addressing the attendees of the occasion, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz highlighted the importance of education for achieving durable peace and prosperity in Pakistan. He said that the younger generation had a key role in national development as the youth wants peace in tranquility in society as a whole. He underlined the need for eliminating extremism and terrorism as well as achieving lasting peace through education and creating awareness among public, especially youth.

Furthermore, IRI Director General (DG) Dr Ziaul Haq took to the stage to say that the country’s bright future is linked with the youth. He said that only education can bring peace in society, and urged teachers to focus on character-building of students so that they may effectively deal with the tendencies of extremism and violence.

“A large part of the community is suffering from mutual hatred, ethnocentric mindsets, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. The Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative will help eradicate terrorism and prove instrumental in reforming the youth who have lost their path due to negative propaganda by some aberrant elements,” he said.

International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) President Dr Ahmed Yousuf Al Darwish also called for promoting a culture of accommodation, tolerance and harmony across all kinds of divides.

“We need to build bridges of cooperation, positive interaction, dialogue and mutual sharing rather than barriers and walls that divide us and cause mutual distrust and conflict. Religious and cultural extremism and terrorism adversely affects the society and it loses the societal feature of cultural and religious tolerance and political accommodation,” he said while adding that academicians and intellectuals have a leading role in inculcating the values of pluralism, brotherhood and tolerance in society, especially the youth.

The basic objective of the activities was to sensitise students and the youth about the horrific dangers and risks associated with the wave of terrorism and extremism and train them on how to safeguard the community from such threats.




Yemen death toll five times higher than UN estimates: Report

Oct 30, 2018

A report says the number of casualties in Yemen remains unreported due to the media blackout imposed on the war-torn country by Saudi and Emirati invaders, putting the death toll among Yemenis at around 56,000 since early 2016 -- over five times higher than the figure reported by the UN.

Patrick Cockburn, an award-winning columnist for The Independent, said in a recent article that understating the number of people killed in the war on Yemen has enabled Saudi Arabia and its allies to avoid a public outcry over their offensive.

He cited a toll of 56,000 by a nonprofit conflict-research organization that is five times higher than the regularly reported figure of 10,000.

“We estimate the number killed to be 56,000 civilians and combatants between January 2016 and October 2018,” said Andrea Carboni, who researches Yemen for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).

Cockburn said Carboni had told him that he expects a total toll of 70,000-80,000, when he completes research into the casualties by taking into account the number of victims between March 2015 -- when the Saudi regime and its allies began a war on the country -- and the end of that year.

Carboni was further quoted as saying that the number of the Yemenis being killed is increasing by more than 2,000 per month as fighting intensifies around the port city of Hudaydah.

“The oft-cited figure of 10,000 dead comes from a UN official speaking only of civilians in early 2017, and has remained static since. This out of date statistic, drawn from Yemen’s patchy and war-damaged health system, has enabled Saudi Arabia and the UAE – who lead a coalition of states strongly backed by the US, UK and France – to ignore or downplay the loss of life,” Cockburn said.

He also complained of the media blackout on the developments on the ground in Yemen, stressing that the murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, has turned the spotlight on the death of so many Yemenis.

“The absence of credible figures for the death toll in Yemen has made it easier for foreign powers to shrug off accusations they are complicit in a human disaster. That is despite frantic appeals from senior UN officials to the organization's Security Council to avert a man-made famine which now threatens 14 million Yemenis – half the population,” he added.

Cockburn also noted that the Western countries still continue their assistance to the Riyadh regime in its deadly war on Yemen regardless of the rising number of casualties.

“The Khashoggi affair has led to greater international focus on the calamitous war in Yemen, and the role of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the conflict. But there is no sign of the US, Britain or France curtailing military assistance to the kingdom and the UAE, despite the likelihood the coalition will fail to win a decisive victory,” he said.

“The true “butcher’s bill” in the Yemen war has taken too long to emerge, but it may help to increase pressure on outside powers to stop the killing,” he added.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a brutal war against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall its former Riyadh-friendly president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who had earlier resigned amid a political conflict and fled to the Saudi capital.

The Houthi Ansarullah movement -- which is now running state affairs in the absence of an effective government -- has been defending the country against the Saudi-led aggression with the help of allied armed forces.

Back in June, the coalition launched the Hudaydah offensive despite international warnings that it would compound the war-torn nation’s humanitarian crisis.

The war on Yemen, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed the country’s infrastructure and led to famine as well as a cholera outbreak.

Last week, a UK-based charity warned that Yemenis face the triple threat of war, disease and hunger and that a civilian is killed every three hours in the impoverished country.

“One civilian has been killed every three hours in fighting in Yemen since the beginning of August, with many more people succumbing to disease and hunger,” Oxfam said in a statement, calling on the US, Britain and other European states to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia.




Marital rape is un-Islamic, says SIS

30 October 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Having sex with one’s wife against her consent violates Islamic teachings, Sisters in Islam (SIS) said today in calling for marital rape to be criminalised.

The Muslim women’s rights group cited several verses in the Quran that demanded that husbands treat their wives with kindness, affection, and mercy.

“As marital rape is clearly not permissible in Islam, current practices are purely cultural in nature and cannot be attributed to ‘religious factors’.

“All and any allowance for rape (in and out of marriage) are in direct opposition to the Holy Quran’s intention to maintain equality in the relationship between husband and wife based on the spirit of love and compassion,” SIS said in a statement.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin told Parliament earlier today that the government would not criminalise marital rape because it was hard to secure convictions, citing also a parliamentary select committee’s decision in 2006 to reject on religious grounds criminalising spousal rape.

“The Deputy Minister’s excuse that marital rape will be ‘difficult to prove in court’ is disgraceful and irresponsible as it implies that when an issue is deemed as ‘difficult’, it is okay for the government to just turn a blind eye to it,” SIS said in response.

Section 375 of the Penal Code, which criminalises rape, contains an exception that says sexual intercourse between a man and his wife is not rape.

Section 375A only imposes a punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment if a man hurts his wife or causes fear of death or hurt to her in order to have sex, compared to sentences of up to 30 years that can be imposed in other rape cases.




US requested release of Taliban founder to help peace talks

Haroon Janjua

October 30, 2018

A notorious Taliban leader and co-founder of the Taliban insurgent group Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was released on the special request of US representative Zalmay Khalilzad, a top Pakistani official said.

Mr Khalilzad, who held several meetings this month with all the stakeholders to resolve the long Afghan conflict. A major breakthrough of his visit came when the Taliban agreed to hold further talks with America.

“The release of Mullah Baradar was made on the request of Zalmay Khalilzad, who is more serious [about] resolving the Afghan conflict at [the] earliest, he needs concrete results as Washington desperately seeking result oriented negotiations”, a senior Pakistani intelligence official told The National on the condition of anonymity.

“The improving realisation between Islamabad and Washington is to keep all the options open for achieving peace in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants peace no matter what possible channels are subscribed and ultimately it’s in the interest of Pakistan”, the official added.

“We are not going to get into the details of private diplomatic communications. Special Representative Khalilzad continues to have ongoing conversations with all interested parties”, a State Department official told The National on condition of anonymity. After Khalilzad met with Taliban at their political office on October 12, both decided to make a request to Pakistan for the release of Mullah Baradar. A week later on October 19, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan held meeting with Qatar’s foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani and both decided to release the Taliban co-founder.

On Sunday, the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul formally said Baradar has been released.

Mr Khan, who has been a vocal supporter of peace talks with the Taliban, sees the negotiations as the only viable solution for ending the war in Afghanistan. Mr Khan had stated in the past several times that war is not the solution in Afghanistan.

A Taliban official in Doha said, “Baradar’s release would help enhance the American peace process in and it’s a positive sign”.

Mullah Baradar remained one of the most contactable among the senior Taliban leadership and had good knowledge of Afghanistan with a great understanding of the US affairs in the country. He also remained open to negotiations with the government in Kabul.

At the time of arrest in 2010 Baradar was seeking peace talks with Washington without Islamabad’s consent, a former Pakistani intelligence official claimed. “He was arrested because he neglected Islamabad in the deal during that time”, a former senior Pakistani intelligence official, who was in a key position at the time of his arrest told The National on condition of anonymity.

The US, along with other Western countries, say that Islamabad has major clout over Taliban leadership and its splinter groups like Haqqani Network. In January, President Trump in a new year Tweet attacked Islamabad’s “lies and deceit” over covert support for the Taliban.

“Baradar’s release was clearly intended to kick-start efforts to launch a peace process with the Taliban”, Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South and South-East Asia at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars, told The National. “[He’s] a prominent Taliban figure that can make things happen and convince the organisation to stop fighting, but the importance of this move shouldn't be overstated. It’s unclear how much influence Baradar still has within the Taliban organisation given that he’s been in prison for nearly a decade and the Taliban has undergone numerous leadership changes since then.”

But Mr Kugelman said the release was a “notable gesture, but not necessarily a move that will drive the insurgents to the peace table”.






Pakistani court acquits Christian facing death for blasphemy

Oct 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top court has acquitted a Christian woman who has been on death row since 2010 for insulting Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

In Wednesday's verdict, the court ordered authorities to free Asia Bibi.

Bibi was being held at an undisclosed jail for security reasons.

The landmark ruling is expected to anger Islamists who had threatened to launch nationwide protests if the court freed her.

Bibi was arrested in 2009 after a quarrel with Muslim women.

Islamists have demanded her execution. A governor and a minister of minorities were assassinated in 2011 for supporting her.

Insulting Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan, and the mere rumor of blasphemy can ignite lynchings.




Youth role in eradication of terrorism, extremism sought

October 31, 2018

Speakers at a seminar here on Tuesday stressed that reasoning and debate is the right way to convince others as enforcement of beliefs through force or coercion has very serious consequences for peace and tranquility in a society. ‘Roots of extremism and militancy lie in intolerance and not listening to others’ point of view, which wipe out moderation and foster extremism in a society,’ said Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Vice President Allama Raghib Naeemi while addressing a Paigham-e-Pakistan conference here at Data Darbar.

He said emphasis must be laid on inclusive citizenship as all citizens, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, enjoy equal rights in Pakistan. ‘Declaring anyone infidel by an individual is against the teachings of Islam. It is very dangerous approach and the Muslim Ummah should play its role to counter such trends,’ he said, adding that punishing anyone for any wrongdoings is the purview of the state and the judiciary. ‘Individuals must not take law into hand for punishing the sinners or wrongdoers,’ he added.

Raghib Naeemi said Islam preaches peace and harmony and gives very clear message of the respect of humanity. ‘Saints and Sufis have always propagated love and brotherhood … there is no place for terrorism, extremism, intolerance and narrow mindedness in Islam,’ he said, adding that Ulema, Mashaikh, scholars and intellectuals need to play there role to save the society from devastation. At a separate event organized by the Islamic Research Institute (IRI) at the Faisal Mosque Campus Islamabad, speakers stressed the need to raise awareness among students and youth as to how they can play their role in eradicating the menaces of terrorism and extremism from the society.

Addressing on the occasion Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz highlighted the importance of education for achieving durable peace and prosperity in the country. He said the younger generation had the key role in national development as the youth wanted peace in tranquility in the society. He underlined the need for eliminating extremism and terrorism and achieving lasting peace through education and creating awareness among public, especially youth, for progress and prosperity. IRI Director General Dr Zia ul Haq said bright future of the country was linked with the youth.

He said only education can bring peace in society, and urged the teachers to lay focus on character-building of students to effectively deal with the tendencies of extremism and violence. ‘A large part of the community is suffering from mutual hatred, ethnocentric mindset, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. Paigham-e-Pakistan initiative will help eradicate terrorism and prove instrumental in reforming the youth who have lost their path due to negative propaganda by some aberrant elements,’ he said.

Full report at:




Teachers asked to encourage dialogue to foster social harmony

OCTOBER 31, 2018

Speakers at a dialogue on ‘Role of Teachers in Social Harmony’ on Tuesday urged teachers to help foster social harmony in the country by promoting a culture of dialogue.

Teachers should equip themselves with the dialogue-enhancing skills and knowledge before they pass on to others, they said at the two-day dialogue, which was organised by the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.

Around 40 teachers from different parts of northern Punjab attended the dialogue, with sessions led by leading scholars, educationists and opinion makers.

Former Council of Islamic Ideology chairman Dr Khalid Masud said that despite several attempts to bring about positive behavioural changes, much was yet to be achieved.

“A culture of dialogue is needed for developing more nuanced understanding of issues, no matter how contested. Dialogues are two-way interactions. They are much better in learning from each other than the prevailing monologues, where the intent is to win over the rival. Teachers can help overcome this for-against style of speaking by learning relevant skills and knowledge that enhance multiplicity of worldviews, and imparting them afterwards.”

Centre for Social Justice Executive Director Peter Jacob said, “A range of problems are being faced by non-Muslims, some of them having structural roots and others, emanating from society. A great difficulty in even talking about the plight of minorities is that the majority itself suffers from minority complex, due to which they get defensive when such issues are brought to light.”

Meanwhile, some teachers said their inability to talk about peace, social harmony or other messages was largely because of the incentives embedded in education structure. It is true that many teachers do not intentionally focus on talking about social messages, they said, but it is in part because they are expected to finish the curriculum within the stipulated time; students are asked questions from the curriculum, after all; similarly, while parents do not impart civic sense among teachers, they expect their children to get good grades.

Khursheed Nadeem, a renowned columnist, said: “A fundamental problem of ours is whether to have a nation state or a religious state. It is our response to this question that our bilateral relations, especially conflicts and even our internal relations are shaped.” Sharing history of Pakistan, he said, the state largely relayed religious ideals to justify its goals. This is how our narrative evolved. With time, such narrative saw its own backlash. Thus today, he said, the fundamental clash is between the narrative built on transnational ideals and the realities of nation-state confined within boundaries. “It was precisely to bridge this divide that the Paigham-e-Pakistan document was drafted, a government-endorsed public document that counter extremism, using the narrative of religion.” He called for training teachers on this document.

Columnist Harris Khalique said that the media in Pakistan is diverse, with a single event being angled differently, depending on language, platform, region, among others. “The written word, in the form of columns and features, is often cautious, and resultantly, produce less substance that can incite hatred.” Ammar Nasir, religious scholar, said not only common people but teachers quote popular opinion-making platforms. It should be other way around: teachers should be knowledge producer.

Educationist AH Nayyar commended teachers for critically looking at one’s society, but added that one of the ways to raise awareness was to learn about the evolutions of other societies in different ages and places. Dr Raghib Naeemi, a religious scholar, said the statement that “teachers can serve as role models for students” can only come to fruition if teachers consciously strive to be so.

Full report at:




Ulema, Mashaikh council announce setting up of provincial offices

October 31, 2018

In their efforts to eradicate sectarianism and promote harmony, the National Ulema and Mashaikh Council has announced setting up offices at the provincial level, local media reports have informed.

The council in its meeting, presided by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, on Monday was also briefed by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) on crackdown against elements spreading religious hatred and sectarianism.

Qadri, in his address, said the aims of the council reflected ‘our religious and national goals’. He said that the sectarian chaos had affected the entire Muslim community and that the biggest aim of the council is to “remove the strife among different schools of thought.”

During the meeting, Nacta officials also presented statistics on operations against elements spreading religious hatred.

The Nacta officials also shared that a board for unity of ulema has been set up in Punjab and added that Nacta is ready to support establishment of similar boards in other provinces. They called for all the boards to be governed under the Federal Ministry for Religious Affairs.

The meeting concluded with the federal secretary for religious affairs presenting a joint declaration according to which ulema boards would be established at the provincial level. It is also decided that delegates from the National Ulema and Mashaikh Council would regularly visit religious seminaries.

Furthermore, the word ‘minorities’ would be replaced by the term ‘non-Muslims’ while efforts would be made to give legal status to the council.

Full report at:




Maulana Fazlur Rehman eyeing at Islamabad instead of Islam: Rashid

October 31, 2018


Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Tuesday said that the leadership of two main opposition political parties was apparently busy in finding ways to have some sort of NRO. The minister while taking a taunt at JUI-F Chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman said’ he is eyeing at Islamabad in lieu of Islam,’ adding that Co-Chairman PPP, Asif Ali Zardari is also willing to get NRO deal. Earlier today, Sheikh Rashid said that federal government is ready to provide all the required sources for the revival of Karachi Circular Railway project.

Addressing a news conference in Karachi, Railways minister said that five more trains will be launched in Sindh in first hundred days of the present government. ‘Railways can bring revolution in country, adding that Dhabeji express will be inaugurated on October 31. In order to provide relief to labourers, Rashid said the railways will issue ticket for them having duration of a month, so that they can travel without any hindrance in Pakistan Railways (PR).

Federal Minister for Railways said the President Arif Alvi will inaugurate the new addition in the railway fleet, contented Rashid said. This is the launch of sixth train within merely 60 days of the new government; ‘we will fulfill our promise of bringing 10 new trains in 100 days of the government,’ the Minister boastfully mentioned. In the next phase, the Federal Minister vowed to introduce a shuttle train service between Karachi and Hyderabad. On October 16, Sheikh Rashid inaugurated two new passenger trains – the Mohenjo-Daro and Rohri Express trains.

The Mohenjo Daro passenger train runs between Sukkur and Kotri via Larkana route while Rohri Express chugs from Rohri to Khanpur. Talking to media on the occasion, Sheikh Rashid said more than 31 railway stations are being upgraded across the country, adding that the PTI government will have to deliver within 100 days.

Full report at:




Family arrested for trespassing on Azam Swati’s farmhouse freed

Munawer Azeem

October 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The family that was arrested for trespassing on Minister for Science and Technology Azam Khan Swati’s farmhouse was released on Tuesday after a day’s detention in Adiala jail.

Police sources confirmed the release of Niaz Mohammad, his wife, two sons and a daughter.

They further added that the release came about after a settlement was reached between the minister and the detained family.

Both parties submitted their statements on the settlement in the court of the concerned magistrate. Following the agreement, the family was set free.

Earlier in the day, notables of the Bajaur Agency had given the government three days to sack Minister for Science and Technology Mohammad Azam Khan Swati for beating, registering a case against and arresting five of a family for trespassing into his land.

Addressing a news conference, former MNA Sahibzada Haroon Rasheed demanded that Prime Minister Imran Khan take action against the federal minister.

“We have [the support of] hundreds of thousands of people, including residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, who we will ask to conduct a sit-in outside the minister’s house,” he said.

He said the sit-in will be staged outside the minister’s farmhouse and that notable and elders of the Bajaur Agency will hold a jirga on Wednesday to devise a strategy.

Mr Rasheed said that a slum dweller, Niaz Mohammad, his wife, 18-year-old daughter and two sons were arrested and put behind bars when their buffalo entered the minister’s land.

Full report at:




Bilawal assures protesting journalists of his party’s support

October 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday that his party would stand by journalists and continue to struggle against the injustices being committed by the government.

“Whatever your economic policy, it is the responsibility of the government to provide financial security to the public by ensuring jobs for them,” he said while talking to the media during his visit to a protest camp set up by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)-Afzal Butt group outside Parliament House.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that as an opposition party the PPP would continue to raise its voice against “non-serious and unjust” policies of the government.

“We request you to support us,” he urged media personnel. “Your issues are our issues — all your issues are our issues. Whenever there has been injustice with media persons, the PPP has stood with them,” he said, reca­lling his mother Benazir Bhutto’s frequent visits to press clubs and interaction with journalists.

Whenever they faced censorship, Benazir Bhutto extended support to the media, he said. Now the media was facing censorship as well as financial woes, he added.

“The government must provide relief to the people because they [the leadership of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf] have made tall promises of generating 10 million jobs. Not only media persons, but people belonging to other professions have also started suffering due to flawed policies of the government,” the PPP chairman said. “Wherever we go, we meet people protesting against the government.”

He said that even government employees were protesting against the policies of the new government.

“The government does not have to take any major step [to raise funds to provide relief to the people] as they are taking foreign loans. They have even presented a budget but they fail whenever it is a matter of relief for the general public.

“There are various options and several ways [to provide relief to people] but… the government has no intention of taking care of the working and middle classes and protect their interests,” Mr Bilawal-Bhutto said.

He added: “The finance minister only issues statements that he wants to seek input from the opposition [on different issues] but he does not even meet us. They are doing only what they want to do.”

He lambasted the PTI government policies, saying the “flag-bearers of change” had already dropped an ‘inflation bomb’ on the people in the form of a “mini-budget” and were now involved in “economic murder of journalists and media workers”.

He said that the PPP had long-standing relations with the journalist fraternity. “Whenever there has been any injustice in this country, the PPP and the journalists have launched a joint struggle against it whether it was the martial law of General Zia or the military regime of Gen Pervaiz Musharraf,” he added.

MQM visit

A delegation of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), including MNA Iqbal Muhammad Khan, also visited the protest camp and expressed solidarity with the journalists.

Speaking on the occasion, Afzal Butt, the president of his own faction of the PFUJ, said the objective of the protest was to voice the grievances of the journalist fraternity and not to launch any movement against the government.

Full report at:




Iranian FM arrives ‘unannounced’ in Pakistan for ‘key talks’

Mateen Haider

OCTOBER 31, 2018

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrived “unannounced” in Islamabad on late Tuesday.

A credible diplomatic source told Daily Times that the Iranian foreign minister would hold talks with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi to share some credible information regarding the kidnapping of Iranian border guards.

Sources said that the visiting dignitary would also discuss “growing Israeli presence in the region and its contacts with certain regional elements”.

Diplomatic sources said “Iran could convey Pakistan that any possible contact with Israel through some interlocutors would be detrimental for the country and the region”.

Zarif is also expected to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan to convey important messages of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on certain issues.

Full report at:




School principal in Peshawar sentenced to 105 years in prison for child abuse

OCTOBER 31, 2018

A sessions court in Peshawar sentenced a private school’s principal to 105 years in prison on charges of child abuse, pornography, rape, blackmail and illicit relations.

The sentence was awarded on Tuesday by Sessions Judge Younis Khan. The convicted principal Attaullah Marwat was also fined Rs 1.4 million (m).

Marwat, a private school’s owner was apprehended after the Hayatabad police station registered a case against him on July 14, 2017 on the complaint of a male student who had accused him of sexually exploiting school children and filming them with cameras installed in school.

A trial court had framed charges against him on eight counts under the Pakistan Penal Code, including Section 354-A (stripping a woman of her clothes), 376 (punishment for rape), 377-B (sexual abuse of child), 489-C (counterfeit currency), 497 (adultery) and 509 (sexual harassment), and Sections 48 (child pornography), 50 (seducing a child) and 53 (sexual abuse) of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare Act, 2010.

Marwat was found guilty of all charges and handed various jail sentences under each section. During the proceedings, 25 direct and indirect victims of Marwat recorded their statements before the police. However, it is believed that a majority of the convict’s victims had not come forward.

Reportedly, one of the charges levied against Marwat was that he had forced, coerced, persuaded and enticed female students under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activities.

Marwat was also charged with forcing, coercing and persuading female students of his school to engage in sexual activities and capturing those acts on his mobile phones and secret cameras installed in different parts of the school and storing them in USBs.

The convict had allegedly ‘on multiple occasions and habitually’ enticed and compelled multiple women of different ages to have illicit relations with him inside the school. He was also charged with sexually assaulting multiple women after issuing them death threats.

Following his arrest last year, Marwat had recorded his confessional statement before a judicial magistrate on July 19, 2017, wherein he had admitted only that he used to bring women to school for the purpose of adultery. He had argued that it was his ‘hobby’ to make videos of his sexual activities. Furthermore, he had admitted that 26 such videos were stored in his computer.

The issue had surfaced after a student of the said school had informed the police that the accused was involved in sexual exploitation of students and teachers. The student had claimed that Marwat had sexually exploited students, teachers and some women from outside the school but nobody had the courage to expose him.

The student had claimed that the school owner had also showed him a number of objectionable videos which he had recorded secretly through cameras. The complainant had said that the principal had also invited him to get involved in such acts.

Full report at:




Southeast Asia


Yemen: Silence is not an option for Malaysia

Dennis Ignatius

October 31, 2018

Yemen is now as close to hell on earth as one can imagine. A monstrous calamity – “the worst humanitarian disaster in the world”, according to the EU – is unfolding before our very eyes. It is nothing short of a crime against humanity. The pictures of sick, starving and stressed-out children that we increasingly see on television say it all. How much more must they endure before we demand an end to the slaughter of the innocents?

Civil war and big power rivalry

The ongoing civil war in Yemen, a country with a long and bloody history of political instability and conflict, is now in its third year. It is a mess of shifting alliances, warring factions and foreign interference.

Saudi Arabia, accusing Iran of arming anti-government Houthi (Zaydi Shiites) rebels, intervened on the side of pro-government forces. With the support of the US and the UK, and backed by a loose coalition of Sunni Muslim states, the Saudis have unleashed a deadly and indiscriminate air war against the Houthi. It has also imposed a crippling land, sea and air blockade of Yemen.

Though Iran denies supporting the Houthi, it is not a disinterested observer given that it is locked in a deadly power struggle with Saudi Arabia (and the US and Israel) all across the Middle East.

To complicate matters, Yemen is also home to al-Qaeda and IS forces who have been fighting everybody else and, in turn, are regularly bombed by US forces.

Whatever the causes of the civil war, the consequences have been devastating. More than 10,000 Yemenis have been killed thus far while tens of thousands more have been wounded, the majority as a result of the Saudi-led air campaign. Yemen’s cities are also being reduced to rubble; 3.5 million Yemenis have fled their homes and are barely surviving in makeshift shelters and camps.

The Saudi blockade, in place since 2015, has now pushed Yemen – which imports 80% of its food – to the brink of famine. The UN estimates that 130 children die every day in Yemen as a result of the war, famine and disease. To make matters worse, cholera and diphtheria are now ravaging the land as well.

Malaysia must act

Of course, Middle East politics is both a minefield and a quagmire with many different forces and many different political, religious and regional cross-currents at play. But silence is no longer an option, not when so many are being slaughtered, not when so many are starving and suffering.

Malaysia must act because to keep silent is to betray our own moral values, our own national conscience. We must act even if there’s a price to pay, even if it upsets our friends because to do nothing is to acquiesce to crimes against humanity.

Of course, we are but a small nation with limited resources. We have no great army at our disposal and neither do we sit in the great councils of the world. But we have a voice, and we must make it count for something.

In fact, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s return to high office couldn’t have occurred at a more opportune time vis-à-vis the situation in Yemen. He is, after all, one of the few leaders left in the Muslim world with the stature and integrity to command respect. More importantly, he is trusted and respected by both sides of the Sunni-Shia divide.

He is well placed, therefore, to help broker at least an immediate end to the bombing of civilian areas, the creation of safe zones and the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance. And beyond that, to perhaps discuss building new bridges across the Sunni-Shia divide.

The recent invitation by the Saudi monarch to Mahathir (hand-delivered by a special envoy no less) to visit Saudi Arabia is a significant development, particularly as it comes a few days after the visit of the Saudi foreign minister. It could provide an opportunity for Malaysia to begin the process of engagement and the search for solutions.

The UN will, no doubt, also welcome Mahathir’s assistance if it can help end the slaughter of civilians in Yemen. Iran, too, might be open to Mahathir’s possible role as a mediator.

At the same time, Malaysia must itself do more to help the people of Yemen. We can, for example, immediately increase our financial support for international aid agencies providing humanitarian assistance to Yemen. We can also discuss with Saudi Arabia and international agencies the possibility of dispatching hospital ships to Yemen to help provide urgent medical assistance to the sick and wounded. And there is no reason why we should not consider evacuating to Malaysia children in need of longer term medical care.

A foreign policy priority

Yemen is now the most pressing international issue of our time; it must become our number one foreign policy priority. Make no mistake – all the great speeches we’ve made in international fora about a principled foreign policy will mean nothing if we don’t act now. We’ve rightly criticised other nations when they failed to live up to their responsibilities in similar situations; we must not be found wanting ourselves.




Jail term suspended, ex-President Nasheed set to return home to Maldives tomorrow

by Arun Janardhanan

October 31, 2018

Ending his exile from the Maldives, the country’s Supreme Court Tuesday suspended a 13-year jail sentence handed to former President Mohamed Nasheed who now plans to return to Male as early as Thursday. Maldives President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who defeated President Abdulla Yameen in the recent elections, is expected to accompany Nasheed from Colombo to Male.

Speaking to The Indian Express from Colombo, Nasheed said it was “very satisfying” to hear the news of the suspension of his jail term. “I am going back to my country after three years to see a democracy that is showing signs of strength. Of course, this is a transition stage, it is a long process. But I would say that Maldives democracy is getting strengthened now,” he said.

Nasheed said Solih is expected to reach Colombo Wednesday. “Yes… I might travel with him. It is so happy to meet everyone after a long time, our leaders, party men. Moreover, mine is a typical South Asian family, a large extended family with a lot of relatives, so many uncles, cousins. I am happy I will meet all of them after a long time,” he said.

Express Explained | Churn in the Neighbourhood: In Maldives, storm subsides, ocean calmer

In the absence of Nasheed and top Opposition leaders, who were either jailed or forced to flee the island nation after President Yameen came to power, it was Solih who coordinated and led the Opposition. In the Presidential poll held last month, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih after attempts to remain in power.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ordered the government, police and prison authorities to implement the suspension of Nasheed’s 13-year jail term.

Full report at:




Malay groups insist ICERD ratification harms special position of their community

31 October 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― A coalition of Malay-Muslim groups marched to Parliament today to protest the government's plan to ratify the United Nation’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

About 100 people marched from the National Monument around 10.30am before they were stopped by the police at a barricade on the bridge leading into Parliament.

The group consisting of conservative Malays groups such as Isma and Pertubuhan Kebajikan Darul Islah Malaysia (PERKID) then claimed that the ICERD challenges Article 153 of the Federal Constitution and its guarantees of the special position of the Malays. Ummah secretariat head Aminuddin Yahya ,who led the group, thensubmitted a memorandum to Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (National Unity and Social Well-being) Dr Md Farid Md Farik.

Also present were PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man and the party’s Bachok MP, Nik Mohamad Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang arrived around 11.15am and led 10 representatives from the protest group to the Parliament’s gates.

After submitting the memorandum, Aminuddin said the group would send a delegation to the Conference of Rulers in the future to voice their concern on the ratification.

“Article 153 is not racist in nature but an agreement between all ethnic races in Malaysia.

“As long as they have the intention to challenge this, we will not stop fighting them,” he said.

He said they will wait for the federal government to respond to their demand for discussions on the terms of termination to the ratification.

On Monday, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa reiterated the government’s assurance that the special position of Malays in the country will not immediately end once Putrajaya ratifies the ICERD.

Mujahid, the minister in charge of Islamic Affairs, stressed that the ratification will not affect the laws enshrined in the Federal Constitution unless approved by Parliament.

Full report at:






Erdogan vows to crush U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters east of Euphrates in Syria

OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed on Tuesday to crush Kurdish fighters east of the Euphrates river in Syria, announcing a major military operation against U.S. allies in an area where Washington supports them with troops on the ground.

Syria’s YPG Kurdish militia are the core of a force that has fought against Islamic State with the support of U.S. air power, arms, funds, training and an estimated 2,000 American special forces troops on the ground.

Turkey, Washington’s main Muslim ally within NATO, considers the YPG an enemy and has already intervened to sweep the fighters from territory west of the Euphrates in military campaigns over the past two years.

Previous campaigns halted at the banks of the river, in part to avoid direct confrontation with Washington. But Erdogan said Turkey was now prepared to press on.

“We will destroy the terror structure east of the Euphrates River. We have completed preparations and plans regarding this issue,” Erdogan said in a speech to lawmakers from his AK Party.

“We have started active intervention operations against the terror organization in the last couple of days. We will soon come down hard on the terror organization with more extensive and effective operations.”

State-owned Anadolu news agency said on Sunday Turkish forces had already bombarded positions east of the river held by the YPG.

Turkey has been infuriated by U.S. support for the YPG, which it considers a terrorist organization and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey for more than three decades.

Erdogan issued what he said was a “final warning” last week to those who would endanger Turkey’s borders. He said then that Turkey would focus its attention on the east of the Euphrates, rather than the Manbij area just west of the river, where U.S. and Turkish forces agreed in June to carry out joint patrols.




Israeli army opens probe into killing of Gaza medic

30 October 2018

Israel’s army said Tuesday it has opened a military police investigation into the killing of a Palestinian medical volunteer along the Gaza border in June.

Razan al-Najjar, 21, was fatally shot on June 1 near the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis during protests and clashes along the border.

The Palestinian Medical Relief Society said at the time she was hit “as she was attempting to provide first aid to an injured protester”, adding that three other first responders were also hit by live fire on the same day.

Israel’s army said in the days after her death that its troops did not deliberately shoot her, but the incident was further reviewed by the military advocate general.

“A military police investigation has been opened regarding the death of the volunteer medic Razan al-Najjar,” the army said in Tuesday’s statement, noting the probe was ordered following the advocate general’s review.

At least 218 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the months of demonstrations and clashes.

One Israeli soldier has been killed along the border since the protests began on March 30.

Israel says its actions are necessary to defend the border and stop infiltrations and attacks, which it accuses Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, of seeking to orchestrate.

Full report at:




Turkish military says kills seven Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

30 October 2018

The Turkish military killed seven Kurdish militants in air strikes in neighboring northern Iraq on Tuesday as they were preparing to launch an attack on regions were Turkish bases are located, it said in a statement on Twitter.

Militant shelters and ammunition stocks were also destroyed in the air strikes, it said.

Turkey has in recent months carried out strikes on bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, especially its stronghold in the Qandil mountains, where Ankara has also threatened to carry out a ground offensive.

More than 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK launched its insurgency in Turkey in 1984. It is designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.




Turkey: Joint patrols with US forces in Syria’s Manbij to begin imminently

30 October 2018

Training for joint patrols between Turkish and US forces in Syria’s Manbij has been completed, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar was quoted as saying by state-owned Anadolu news agency on Tuesday, adding that patrols would begin imminently.

“The training process has been completed and joint patrols will begin today or tomorrow,” he said, adding that after Manbij, Turkey would focus on the area east of the Euphrates River.




Yemen is sovereign, won’t accept American diktats: Foreign minister

Oct 31, 2018

Yemeni Foreign Minister Hisham Sharaf has censured the latest remarks by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis about the need for the establishment of a semi-autonomous region in the conflict-stricken Arab country, stating that the Yemeni nation welcomes any initiative that does not undermine national principles.

“Yemen is a sovereign country. We do not take orders from anyone, and do not accept the loss of our national sovereignty,” Sharaf told Arabic-language al-Masirah televisions network on Tuesday evening.

He added that Yemenis are defending their motherland and will not allow their sovereignty to be undermined in any way.

“Our missiles are meant to safeguard Yemen’s security. We had not attacked anyone prior to the onset of the Saudi-led military aggression,” Sharaf pointed out.

He stressed that the Pentagon chief’s comments about a political case confirms that Washington views Yemen through a military perspective.

“There would have been no aggression against Yemen in case the United States of America and Britain had not supported the Saudi regime,” Sharaf said.

Meanwhile, a member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Houthi Ansarullah movement said the latest comments by the US defense secretary clearly show that Washington and its regional allies are seeking to divest the Yemeni people of their sovereignty.

“This is what the Yemenis have been refusing for several years. We have been making sacrifices in rejection of American diktats or any external tutelage on us,” Tawfiq al-Humiri told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency.

“We are developing and manufacturing our own missiles and weapons in order protect ourselves against the ongoing aggression by the US and its vassals, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Yemeni women and children,” Humiri said.

He added that there is an obvious solution to the Yemen conflict.

“The United States of America and its pawns must stop their aggression and criminal acts, put an end to their siege on the Yemeni people and help establishment of peace in our country,” the Ansarullah official underlined.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mattis called for a ceasefire in Yemen and for parties to come to the negotiating table within the next 30 days.

“We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can't say we are going to do it sometime in the future,” he said during a discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington.

“We need to be doing this in the next 30 days,” Mattis added.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The Legal Center for Rights and Developments in Yemen, in a statement released on October 15, announced that the ongoing Saudi-led military campaign against the impoverished and conflict-plagued Arab country has resulted in the death of 15,185 civilians, including 3,527 children and 2,277 women.

A total of 23,822 civilians, among them 3,526 children and 2,587 women, have also sustained injuries, and are currently suffering from the lack of medicine, medical supplies and poor treatment due to the crippling Saudi siege.

The center highlighted that aerial assaults being conducted by the Saudi-led alliance had resulted in the destruction of 15 airports and 14 ports, and damaged 2,559 roads and bridges in addition to 781 water storage facilities, 191 power stations and 426 telecommunications towers.

The statement went on to say that the incessant Saudi-led bombardment campaign had destroyed more than 421,911 houses, 930 mosques, 888 schools, 327 hospitals and health facilities plus 38 media organizations, halted the operation of 4,500 schools and left more than four million people internally displaced.

Full report at:




Turkey to launch larger operations in northern Syria: Erdogan

Oct 30, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will soon launch larger operations east of the Euphrates River in northern Syria, where it has been confronting US-backed Kurdish militants.

“Our preparations and plans [for an operation] are done, we will soon bring down the terror formation east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said in a speech to members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Tuesday.

He said the Turkish military had already started an intervention against the "terrorists" in the area.

His remarks came two days after state-owned Anadolu news agency said Turkish forces had bombarded the positions of Syrian Kurdish militants, known as the YPG, on the eastern banks of the Euphrates.

Ankara considers the US-backed YPG to be a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for independence in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984.

Turkey first deployed forces to northern Syria in 2016 to repel the YPG under the banner of the so-called “Operation Euphrates Shield.”

The Turkish incursion in Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin started after the United States said it sought to set up a thousand-strong force in Syria near the Turkish border comprising the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is led by the YPG.

Syria views the Turkish military intervention as a violation of its sovereignty, and has repeatedly called on Ankara to pull its forces out.

Turkey, however, has vowed to press ahead with attacks on the positions of the YPG.

Syria, Turkey spar over Idlib deal

In another development, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem accused Turkey of failing to meet the obligations set out in an agreement with Russia to create a demilitarized buffer zone to separate Syrian government troops from Takfiri militant groups in the northwestern province of Idlib.

“The terrorists still exist with their heavy arms in this region and this is an indicator of Turkey's unwillingness to fulfill its obligations,” Muallem said in Damascus, according to Syria’s official news agency SANA.

The agreement, which was reached between the Turkish president and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in September, staved off a major government offensive into the militant-held region.

Under the deal, a demilitarized zone of 15-20 kilometers will have to be created in Idlib along the contact line between the militants and government troops by October 15.

The deal also involves the withdrawal of “radically-minded” militants, including the al-Qaeda-linked ones, from the region.

Damascus has vowed to recover “every inch” of Syria, including the Idlib region.

Turkey’s foreign minister, however, said on Tuesday that the implementation of the deal was continuing according to plan.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was speaking at a joint news conference with his Azeri and Iranian counterparts in Istanbul, also said that if terrorists or radical groups in Idlib displayed a “different approach” to that of the agreement, Turkey would intervene.

Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Turkey was doing its best to fulfill its difficult obligations in Idlib, but that “not everything was going as it was planned.”

 Russia did not see a threat that the agreement would fail, he added.

On Saturday, the leaders of Germany, Russia, France and Turkey at a quadrilateral summit on Syria in the Turkish city of Istanbul stressed the importance of a lasting ceasefire in Syria, and said a committee to create a new constitution should meet by the end of the year.

Peskov said Moscow would inform Syrian officials about the outcome of the top-level summit.

Erdogan also said on Tuesday that Turkey would ensure a more active international role in Idlib after the four-way summit.

Turkey, Iran and Russia are the guarantors of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria. The three have been mediating a peace process since January 2016 among Syria’s warring sides in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Turkey has set up a series of observation posts in Idlib as part of the deal to reduce fighting between militants and the Syrian government in de-escalation zones.

The strategic Syrian province of Idlib hosts several militant groups backed by Turkey and other foreign parties – especially Western states, Israel and their regional allies.

Full report at:




Saudi prosecutor refuses to answer Turkey’s questions on Khashoggi: Columnist

October 31 2018

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb has refused to answer key questions asked by his Turkish counterparts as part of an investigation into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to daily Hürriyet columnist Abdulkadir Selvi.

Mojeb arrived in Istanbul on Oct. 28 night and held talks on Oct. 29 with Istanbul’s chief prosecutor, days after he contradicted weeks of Saudi statements by saying that Khashoggi’s killing was premeditated.

He held a second round of talks with the Turkish prosecutor, İrfan Fidan, at the court house on Oct. 30 before inspecting the Saudi consulate in the Levent neighborhood.

Demirören News Agency reported that Mojeb also visited the Istanbul office of Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MİT) early Oct. 31.

Citing unidentified government sources, Selvi wrote on Oct. 31 Turkish authorities shared with Mojeb some visual evidence in the case, but felt “uncomfortable” when the Saudi prosecutor insisted to get a virtual copy of Khashoggi’s phone.

According to Selvi, Turkish officials were in “a deep distrust” toward Mojeb as he repeatedly refused to answer questions about the whereabouts of Khashoggi’s body and the identity of the killers’ “local collaborator” that he had publicly pointed without elaborating.

“Why did the Saudi prosecutor hide the knowledge about the body’s location from his Turkish counterparts? Because he may have visited Turkey not to solve the murder case but to save the crown prince,” Selvi concluded.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and a critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, was killed inside the consulate after he went there to get documents for his forthcoming marriage on Oct. 2.

After a weeks-long denial, Saudi Arabia admitted on Oct. 25 that the journalist fell victim to a premeditated killing in the building while arresting 18 people, although the whereabouts of his body remained unclear.

Washington Post awaits answers

The Washington Post said Oct. 30 it was still waiting for answers on the killing of its contributor and urged the U.S. Congress to impose sanctions on those responsible for the murder.

In an opinion piece, the Post’s editorial board said what happened to Khashoggi’s body remained “undisclosed”.

The board accused the Saudi government and its “de facto accomplices” in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump of remaining silent instead of clarifying the questions about the murder.

It said those behind the killing were hoping that “demands for accountability will fade away now that the story has been pushed from the front pages. That should not be allowed to happen”.

“What the Turks still don’t know has been publicly voiced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Where is Mr. Khashoggi’s body? And who ordered and oversaw this grisly operation?” it said.

“The Saudis know the answers to both those questions, and Mr. Trump might, too. Experts on Saudi Arabia are virtually unanimous in saying that such an audacious mission must have been known about, and most likely was ordered, by the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” it said.

The board said that Congress should summon CIA Director Gina Haspel, who was in Turkey last week and briefed Trump, and other senior U.S. officials and determine what they know about the killing.

“Then it should take decisive action to impose sanctions on those responsible --including, if the available evidence points to him, Mohammed bin Salman-- and reshape U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia,” said the board.

Full report at:




North America


How do white Muslims experience Islamophobia?

30 October, 2018

"I'm white and English. I've never faced racism in my life. I became a Muslim, then people would hurl abuse as I was no longer white," tweeted Christopher John George. "I never knew how bad it felt until I was on the other side… it is DISGUSTING."

His tweet illuminates not only how Islamophobia is a virulent form of racism, but also narrates an untold story of the Muslim experience in western societies today - the story of how white converts to Islam are now considered by some racists as traitors to their race.

"While people of all races convert to Islam, the experiences of white converts in particular help reveal some remarkable insights about race, racialisation, racism and whiteness" in contemporary western societies, observes Leon Moosavi.

What it reveals is the way in which converts to Islam not only lose their whiteness but also the privilege afforded to them by white dominant societies, thus demonstrating the fluidity of race and whiteness, and also how Islamophobia is, unquestionably, a form of racial prejudice.

"Numerous studies have shown how white people can access areas without objection whereas non-whites are not welcomed into the same spaces," notes Moosavi.

"For example, the 'English seaside' is racialised as a 'white space' that non-whites do not belong in. This is related to the white privilege of being inconspicuous as racialised individuals because of being regarded as 'normal', a privilege that has been referred to as 'the invisibility of whiteness.'"

In the post-9/11 era, race has proven to be as strong a factor as faith in shaping the experiences of Muslims in western societies, and with an ever increasing number of western governments falling prey to the xenophobic toxicity of far-right political movements - to be perceived as Arab, Asian, African, or Indian is to be vulnerable to anti-Muslim discrimination.

It's worth remembering the first victim of an anti-Muslim hate crime in the days that followed the September 11 attacks was an Indian Sikh who had been mistaken for a Muslim, and it's also worth noting that violence is not the only form of discrimination against those who are perceived of being Muslim. Economic inequality, and difficulties accessing education, employment and housing are all part of the Muslim experience today; facets of life in which whites enjoy a distinct socioeconomic advantage.

The story of how Islamophobia affects non-whites is one that has been well told, despite the stubbornness of those who refuse to listen to it.

So what has been the experience of whites who convert to Islam in these deeply worrying Islamophobic times?

Firstly, and as Leon Moosavi observes, "White converts to Islam cause confusion to both non-Muslims and even lifelong Muslims because whiteness and Islam are seen as incompatible."

Lauren Booth, a British journalist and sister-in-law of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, articulated this sense of "confusion" to me. "The attitude of my friends when I told them I had found Islam was 'but you should know better than this, you're a grown up!'"

Booth also explained how colleagues in the media portrayed her as either a "villain, victim, or someone who just had a nervous breakdown." Her conversion making no sense to those in Britain who had long conflated Muslim with South East Asian culture and identity.

Other white converts to Islam explain how they're re-racialised by white society into other ethnic identities, or foreign others, often smeared as "Pakis" or "dirty Arabs," according to Moosavi.

"The first time I got shouted at was September 12th 2001," said a white convert named Elizabeth in a BBC documentary.

"They said: 'It was you that bombed America! Go back to your own country!', and I thought: If I had somewhere else to go, I might consider it. This is the only place I've got! Pre-September 11th people treated me like I was stupid. They'd slow down their speech, assume I don't speak English and that I'm pretty uneducated... Since then I've been called 'Paki' a number of times, I can't even count how many times, "white Paki", which is quite a funny version, 'Iraqi', 'Afghan.'

Recently, I spoke with Amina Deady, a white 27-year-old single mother and recent convert to Islam. Last month she stood up to a man who vilified her Islamic dress at a café in Riverside, California.

The video of the encounter went viral on social media, capturing the man's racist taunt in which he ridiculed her niqab as a Halloween costume before asserting, "I don't like it. I don't like that because I don't like your religion. It says to kill me and I don't want to be killed by you."

When I spoke with cartoonist Katie Miranda, who grew up in an agnostic Jewish family, but who found Islam during years spent in the occupied Palestinian territories, she explained that while she had never personally been accused of being a "race traitor," at least in those words, she said,

"The term I heard that may be a better fit is committing apostasy against your own culture because converting to Islam isn't about race, what it's about for your friends, your family, your community (regardless of race) is 'are you still going to be like us?' And in some ways I am not and in some ways I still am."

Miranda further explained how the biggest problem for her has been the manner in which negative stereotypes of Muslims are "stubborn" and "do not go away, despite the fact she, nor any of her Muslim friends do not exhibit any of those stereotypes," adding that her existence and positive interactions with people in her daily life do little to counter the messages the public gets from what she described as the "Islamophobia media," including those who profit from disseminating anti-Muslim discourse.

While the level and degree of discrimination white converts to Islam experience is less frequent, and less severe than that experienced by non-white Muslims in western societies, it is a form of racism that is underreported and should not be ignored.




Anti-Muslim sentiment drives Muslims into US politics


By Servet Gunerigok


Hate directed towards Islam has motivated many Muslims in the United States to enter politics, said a Muslim lawyer and contributing opinion writer for The New York Times.

In an op-ed published Tuesday, Wajahat Ali said Muslims' presence in American politics "probably inspires fear" among those who support a ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries, a wall along the Mexican border and increased restrictions on refugees.

Ali cited a report by The Associated Press in July which revealed that it "is precisely the bigotry and hate that has been directed toward Islam — including in remarks and tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump — that has motivated so many Muslims to enter the political arena".

According to Emgage, a Muslim civil rights group, up to 100 Muslims filed to run for statewide or national office this year.

In early August, Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American and former Michigan state legislator, won a narrow victory in the state’s Democratic primaries, edging out Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, and is on track to become the first Muslim woman in Congress.

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American who came to the U.S. over two decades ago as a refugee from Kenya, is expected to win in midterm elections next month, replacing Representative Keith Ellison in Minnesota.

"A majority of Muslim candidates are not running with their religion on their sleeves but instead as Democrats promoting unabashedly progressive platforms," said Ali.

These Muslim political veterans and upstarts are not the first to show that "deeply held religious beliefs" can inspire a commitment to social justice, he said.

"But at a time when the hypocrisy of many who claim to represent the Christian religious right is especially glaring, they provide the latest reminder that being devout doesn’t have to — and shouldn’t — go hand in hand with attacks on women, minorities and poor people," he wrote.

Full report at:




US schools rethinking Saudi funding: Associated Press


By Umar Farooq


Some universities and colleges in the U.S. are rethinking funding they receive from Saudi Arabia in light of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, The Associated Press (AP) reported Tuesday.

Through the decade, the Saudi government has funneled $354 million into 37 different schools across the U.S.

The top two recipients, George Washington University and George Mason University, received a large portion through a Saudi scholarship program which sends students to study in the U.S. every year.

The AP found at least $62 million came from grants and gifts given to schools by Saudi nationally-owned enterprises.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Texas A&M University both received millions of dollars from the state oil company, Saudi Aramco.

"Although some of the contracts halted before last year, questions surrounding Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul have spurred some schools to reconsider current or future deals," the AP wrote.

MIT announced it would reassess its partnership with the kingdom because of the "grave concern" about Khashoggi, and told faculty work with the Saudis to “make their own determinations as to the best path forward.”

Earlier this year, the oil company pledged $25 million to MIT for research on renewable energy and artificial intelligence, according to the AP.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After weeks of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, Saudi officials admitted that Khashoggi was killed in a fist fight inside the consulate building.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 18 people arrested in Saudi Arabia for the killing should be extradited to Turkey to face trial, while Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom would try the suspects after an investigation is complete.

Even after this, many schools are not considering a reassessment of Saudi funds, including George Mason University, University of California-Berkely, Northwestern University, and Tufts University.

“Refusing payment would result in us denying an educational opportunity to otherwise qualified students. This would run counter to our mission of serving students,” George Mason spokesman Michael Sandler said in a statement.

The Saudi scholarship fund was initially created in 2005 to create warmer relations with the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Full report at:




Mattis calls for Yemen ceasefire, peace talks within ‘next 30 days’

31 October 2018

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis called Tuesday for a ceasefire in Yemen and for parties to come to the negotiating table within the next 30 days.

The Pentagon chief said the US had been watching the conflict “for long enough” and said he believes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are in a US-backed coalition fighting Shiite Houthi rebels, are ready for talks.

“We have got to move toward a peace effort here, and we can’t say we are going to do it some time in the future,” Mattis said at the US Institute of Peace in Washington.

“We need to be doing this in the next 30 days.”

He said the US is calling for all warring parties to meet with United Nations special envoy Martin Griffiths in Sweden in November and “come to a solution.”

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognized by the United Nations, and the Houthis in 2015.

Nearly 10,000 people have since been killed and the country now stands at the brink of famine. Read more

“The longer term solution, and by longer term I mean 30 days from now, we want to see everybody around a peace table based on a ceasefire, based on a pull back (of Houthis) from the border and then based on a ceasing dropping of bombs that will permit the special envoy Martin Griffiths... to get them together in Sweden and end this war. That is the only way we are going to really solve this.”

Full report at:




US State Department urges all parties to end hostilities in Yemen, focus on peace on efforts

October 31, 2018

DUBAI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for a cessation of hostilities in Yemen and the resumption of vigorous efforts for a political solution to the crisis.

“The United States calls on all parties to support UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict in Yemen based on agreed references,” Pompeo said in a statement.

“The time is now for the cessation of hostilities, including missile and UAV strikes from Houthi-controlled areas into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Subsequently, Coalition air strikes must cease in all populated areas in Yemen.”

Pompeo also called on parties to start consultations next month, under the UN Special Envoy in a third country, for a possible adoption and implementation of “confidence-building measures to address the underlying issues of the conflict, the demilitarization of borders, and the concentration of all large weapons under international observations.

“A cessation of hostilities and vigorous resumption of a political track will help ease the humanitarian crisis as well,” the US state secretary added.

The conflict in Yemen has sparked the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with the UN estimating three-quarters of the population — or 22 million people — in need of immediate humanitarian support. Nearly 10,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in March 2015.

Full report at:




Algerian-Irish extremist sentenced to 15 years in US jail

October 31, 2018

NEW YORK: Algerian-Irish extremist Ali Charaf Damache, who pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in July, was sentenced to 15 years in jail on Tuesday, prosecutors in Philadelphia said.

Damache, 53, known by the pseudonym "The black flag," was arrested in Spain in 2015, where he was suspected of plotting the murder of a Swedish cartoonist who had depicted the Prophet Mohammed.

He was extradited to the United States in 2017, accused of being the ringleader of an extremist cell that was plotting attacks in Europe and southern Asia.

"Today's sentencing marks the end of a long and arduous prosecution that has spanned more than nine years, involved four defendants and five unnamed co-conspirators, and required multiple coordinated international arrests and two extradition applications," said US Attorney William McSwain.

"Damache and his co-conspirators were motivated by hate and prejudice, and their criminal activities presented a very real danger to our country and the world," he said.

In negotiations over his agreement to plead guilty, Damache had accepted a 15-year prison sentence and renounced any appeals.

He also agreed to extradition to either Ireland or Algeria once his US sentence has been served.

Spanish officials said that when he was arrested in Barcelona in December 2015, Damache was plotting the murder of Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonish who had drawn caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Full report at:




Arab World


Blast kills three Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims in Iraq - police

31 Oct 2018

BAQUBA, Iraq: Three Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims were killed by a roadside bomb as they walked to a holy site near the northeastern Iraqi city of Khanaqin on Tuesday, police said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group's news agency Amaq reported.

The claim could not immediately be verified. The Sunni Muslim militants are active in the area and have targeted Shi'ite pilgrims in the past.

Hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims gather every year in Iraq for the annual pilgrimage of Arbaeen, which marks the end of a 40-day mourning period for the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, Imam Hussein.

Islamic State has waged a campaign of kidnappings and killings since its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and neighbouring Syria collapsed in 2017.




US Attacks Deir Ezzur with Banned Weapons Again

Oct 30, 2018

The Arabic-language website of SANA news agency quoted several local sources in Deir Ezzur as saying on Monday that the US warplanes targeted several districts in the town of Hajin in Eastern Deir Ezzur with white phosphorous bombs which are forbidden internationally.

This was the second time in a month that the US-led coalition's fighter jets attack Deir Ezzur with banned weapons under the pretext of fighting the ISIL.

In a relevant development late last month, the US-Led coalition warplanes targeted an ISIL-held town in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur using white phosphorus munitions, killing several people, the Syrian state-run TV reported.

The Syrian state-run TV reported that at least three civilians were killed and five more injured in an airstrike in the Southeastern part of the town of al-Suwar.

Full report at:




Iraqi Security Forces Kill Suicide Bomber before Reaching Arbaeen Pilgrims

Oct 30, 2018

The Baghdad Operations Command Headquarter announced in a statement on Monday that its forces managed to identify a suicide bomber in Northern Baghdad and killed him before he could conduct his planned terror attack.

The terrorist had worn a explosive belt and intended to target the pilgrims on the way from Baghdad to Samarra, it said.

Baghdad Operations Command Headquarter had undertaken a security scheme since a week ago to ensure security of the pilgrims marching for Arbaeen ceremony in Karbala.

The Iraqi government and security forces have so far managed to ensure safety of the pilgrims heading for Karbala and no incident has so far been reported.

Millions of Muslims in Iraq who rallied from the city of Najaf to the city of Karbala arrived in Karbala city on Tuesday to mark the Arbaeen.

Muslims from across the world, including Iran, attended the 100-km rally, while hundreds of thousands more joined them on the way to Karbala and to the holy shrine of Imam Hossein (PBUH).

Full report at:

Large numbers of different student and popular groups are still joining the rally.




‘Saudi-led coalition sends 10,000 of troops to Hudaydah ahead of new offensive’

Oct 30, 2018

The Saudi-led military coalition has sent 10,000 of troops to Yemen’s Hudaydah ahead of a fresh offensive against the blockaded port city, a report says.

Leading a coalition of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates and Sudan, Saudi Arabia invaded Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who resigned amid popular discontent and fled to the Arab kingdom.

Since the onset of the imposed war, the Yemeni army, backed by fighters of the country’s popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, has been defending the impoverished nation against the brutal aggression. The coalition is also resolute to crush the movement as another goal in its war on Yemen, which is teetering on the edge of famine.

More than three and a half years into the war, Saudi Arabia has achieved neither of its objectives. Riyadh had declared at the start of the invasion that the war would take no more than a couple of weeks.

Back in June, coalition forces, backed by armed militia loyal to Hadi, launched a full-scale offensive against the Houthi-held Hudaydah, which is currently under a tight siege imposed by the invaders. The so-called liberation operation, however, failed to achieve its objective, which is overrunning the vital port and defeating Houthi fighters, backed by those from the Popular Committees.   

Citing an unnamed military official from Hadi’s so-called government, AFP reported on Tuesday that the pro-Hadi coalition would deploy reinforcements to the Red Sea coast ahead of a new offensive on Hudaydah “within days.”

The official further claimed that they would “secure areas liberated” from Houthi fighters, adding that Sudanese forces had moved in to “secure” areas around the city, through whose docks over 70 percent of Yemen's imports used to pass.

Over the past several month, humanitarian organizations have warned that military operations against Hudaydah threaten to cut off essential supplies to millions of Yemeni people. More than 70 percent of Yemen's imports pass through Hudaydah’s docks.

The coalition claims Houthis are using Hudaydah for weapons delivery, an allegation rejected by Ansarullah fighters.

Yemenis target Saudi base in Asir

Meanwhile, Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah satellite television network, citing a military source, reported that Yemeni forces had targeted a new military base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir with a short-range Badr-1 missile, adding that the projectile had struck the designated target with precision.

The official also said that the retaliatory missile strike had inflicted heavy human and material damage.

The aggression initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen.

According to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.

Full report at:




Notorious Ankara-Backed Terrorist Commander Killed in Al-Bab

Oct 30, 2018

Sources close to the terrorist groups in Northern Syria reported on Tuesday that the blast occurred in the town of al-Bab in Northeastern Aleppo, killing Abu Abdolrahman Ma'askarat along with a number of his aides and wounding several other militants.

Meantime, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported 10 casualties after a bomb planted in a military vehicle of the terrorists went off in al-Azraq region of al-Bab.

Infighting and insecurity in regions occupied by the Ankara-backed terrorists in Northern Aleppo have recently increased.

In a relevant development on Sunday, a number of militants were killed and wounded in fresh clashes between two Ankara-backed groups in Northeastern Aleppo.

Terrorists of Tajamo Ahrar al-Sharqiyah clashed with Sultan Murad rival militants, both backed up by the Turkish troops, in the village of Tal al-Hawa in al-Bab region in Northeastern Aleppo that left 3 terrorists dead and more than 10 others wounded.

The clashes broke out after Sultan Murad gunmen killed a member of Ahrar al-Sharqiyah near the small town of al-Qatourah in Eastern Aleppo that led Ahrar al-Sham to storm and capture several positions of Sultan Murad militants.

Full report at:




Terrorists Pass Chemical Cargos to Each Other in Hama

Oct 30, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted informed sources in Northern Syria as saying on Monday that Jeish al-Izza terrorists, affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham, delivered two capsules of chloride and Sarin gas to Ansar al-Tawhid terrorists, affiliated to the ISIL, in Qalat al-Maziq region in Northwestern Hama under strong security measures.

Based on reports in the past few days, Tahrir al-Sham has transferred a large number of Ansar al-Tawhid militants from different parts of Idlib to Northern Hama.

Given the terrorist groups' refusal to withdraw from the demilitarized zone in Syria, the army is likely to start cleansing operations in the region.

Relevant reports said earlier this month that terrorists and the pro-militant White Helmets organization had transported poisonous materials to a new region in Idlib to later use them in a false-flag attack and accuse the Damascus government, a media outlet reported.

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV Channel reported that the terrorists, in cooperation with the White Helmets, transferred poisonous materials from the town of Jisr al-Shughour to the settlement of Khirbet al-Amoud, both located in the rebel-held province of Idlib.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported that the White Helmets have completed training a sum of 60 people, including more than 16 women, for using them in two fake videos of chemical attacks filmed by Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at and al-Turkistani Islamic Party terrorists in al-Ghaab plain and Jisr al-Shughour.

Full report at:




Guterres letter to UN Security Council announces new Syria envoy

31 October 2018

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has informed the Security Council that he wishes to appoint Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen as the next special envoy to Syria, diplomatic sources told AFP Tuesday.

Pedersen is currently Norway's ambassador to China and has previously served as its envoy to the UN.

"I am pleased to inform you of my intention to announce the appointment of Mr Geir O Pedersen as my Special Envoy for Syria. In taking this decision, I have consulted broadly, including with the government of the Syrian Arab Republic," Guterres wrote in a letter seen by AFP.

"Mr Pedersen will support the Syrian parties by facilitating an inclusive and credible political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people," the letter read.

It also thanked Staffan de Mistura, the outgoing envoy, "for his more than four years of concerted efforts and contributions to search for peace in Syria."

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany met in Istanbul at the weekend and called for a political solution to the war and a permanent truce in the last major rebel-held bastion of Idlib.

Their joint statement called for a committee to be established to draft Syria's post-war constitution before the end of the year, "paving the way for free and fair elections" in the war-torn country.

Full report at:




Hundreds of Kurdish fighters arrive in eastern Syria to help fight ISIS

31 October 2018

Hundreds of Kurdish fighters have arrived in eastern Syria to help a US-backed alliance fight ISIS after a major setback last week, a monitor said Tuesday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the US-led coalition, launched an offensive on September 10 to expel ISIS from their holdout of Hajin on the Iraqi border.

They advanced slowly with support from coalition air strikes, but faced sand storms and a vicious fightback including suicide bombers, which forced them to retreat on Sunday.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, at least 72 SDF fighters were killed in last week’s ISIS counter-attack, one of the extremist group’s deadliest operations this year.

The monitoring group said hundreds of Kurdish fighters, men and women, had arrived on the outskirts of the Hajin pocket since then.

“Since Sunday, over two days, 500 fighters from the Kurdish special forces, the People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Protection Units have been sent,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Later on Tuesday, he said “at least 100 SDF fighters” had arrived from the northern city of Manbij, bringing the total number of reinforcements to arrive over the past two days to 600.

Several thousand SDF fighters were already present in the area, he said.

An SDF spokesman said Kurdish fighters “experienced in fighting ISIS” had been sent as reinforcements to the Hajin front, but said he could not confirm numbers.

“These units will take part in fighting ISIS on the Hajin front,” Mustefa Bali said.

On Sunday, an SDF commander told AFP that military reinforcements and heavy weapons had been sent to the front.

He said the alliance would launch a new assault as soon as the reinforcements had arrived.

Coalition strikes on the area Tuesday killed at least nine extremists, the Observatory said.

More than 300 SDF fighters and around 500 ISIS extremists have been killed in the past seven weeks of fighting, according to the monitor.

The coalition estimates that 2,000 ISIS militants remain in the Hajin area.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” across territory it controlled.

But the extremist group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, its presence has been reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the Hajin pocket.

Full report at:






Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati's idea of a modern India

October 30, 2018

Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883), was more than just a religious leader.

The founder of the Hindu reform organisation Arya Samaj, he left a deep impact on the Indian society and the concept of religion.

His teachings are equally relevant in today's times.

Establishing the Arya Samaj

Swami Dayanand established the Arya Samaj on April 7, 1875 in Bombay, with 10 principles that are beautifully based purely on God, soul and nature.

The organisation brought about immense changes in the religious perceptions of Indians.

By establishing this community, he enshrined the idea that "all actions should be performed with the prime objective of benefiting mankind", as opposed to following dogmatic rituals of revering idols and symbols.

Dayanand's motive

Dayanand Saraswati's main message was for the Hindus to go back to the roots of their religion, which are the Vedas.

By doing this, he felt that Hindus would be able to improve the depressive religious, social, political, and economic conditions prevailing in the country at the time.

Swami Dayanand's role in politics

Although he was never really involved in politics directly, his political observations were the source of inspiration for a number of political leaders during India's struggle for independence.

For instance, he was the first to give the call for 'Swarajya' as 'India for Indians' in 1876, later taken up by Lokmanya Tilak.

One of his most influential works is the book Satyarth Prakash, which contributed to the Indian independence movement.

His followers include Sri Aurobindo, S Radhakrishnan and Baba Ramdev.

Educative reforms by Dayanand Saraswati

Swami Dayanand Saraswati brought about a complete overhaul of the education system of India by introducing Anglo-Vedic schools to offer students an updated curriculum -- imparting both the knowledge of the Vedas and contemporary English education.

Dayanand questioned religion ahead of time

His logical, scientific and critical analysis of faiths like Christianity and Islam as well as Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism, opened the eyes of many.

He voiced his opinions against idolatry and the pointless emphasis on empty ritualism, and stood against manmade dictates such as caste by birth and women-exclusion from reading Vedas.

Swami Dayanand Saraswati's assassination

Common to the likes of him -- due to his strong preachings against fanatic Hinduism -- Swami had many enemies

On September 29, 1883 -- Maharaja of Jodhpur Jaswant Singh II, invited Maharishi to his palace to seek his blessings

Dayanand offended the court dancer when he advised the King to forsake her and suggested her to pursue a life of Dharma

She conspired with the cook who mixed pieces of glass in the Guru's milk

He suffered excruciating pain, but forgave the cook involved in the deed

After ailing for a month, Maharishi gave in to bad health on the morning October 30, 1883

The day coincided with Hindu festival of Diwali




JeM chief Masood Azhar’s nephew among two militants killed in Tral encounter

October 30, 2018

Two militants, including the nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammad chief, were killed by security forces following a day-long encounter at Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Usman Haidar, the nephew of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, was a wanted sniper and is believed to have been behind the spate of attacks on security forces.

An M-4 carbine rifle, which was possibly used for carrying out sniper attacks, was recovered from the encounter spot in Chaanketaar village of Tral, PTI quoted officials as saying.

Another nephew of Azhar, Talha Rashid, was among three militants killed in a security operation in Pulwama in November last year. In April, the ‘operational commander’ of the terror outfit Mufti Yasir was eliminated, becoming the fifth top JeM commander to be killed since June last year.

Three defence personnel have been killed in sniper attacks by Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists since mid-September, prompting the law enforcement agencies to re-calibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes by the Pakistan-based group. Last week, an Army jawan and a Seema Shashtra Bal personnel were killed in sniper attacks in Tral area.

Full report at:




Internet gag hits Indian Kashmir students

October 30, 2018

Sheikh Taha, a 10th-grader in India's northern Jammu and Kashmir state, is one of many worried students.

Their exam preparations have been hampered by an abrupt shutdown of the internet in India's only Muslim-majority state.

Thousands of students, who like Taha stored study notes on the internet for easy access, were unable to retrieve them in time for exams scheduled for mid-October.

"Thankfully, the exams have now been postponed until the first week of November," Taha said.

The administration postponed exams because of the volatile situation in the state, where Islamic insurgents continue to fight against Indian rule.

The government cut the internet on Oct. 17 after two Islamic militants were killed in a gun battle with the army.

Local Muslim activists began protests across the state soon after the funeral of the slain rebels.

As on past occasions, cutting access to the internet has been seen as a bid to block the instigation of demonstrations through the sharing of related videos and news.

Taha, 16, was supposed to sit his exam on Oct. 19. However, with no internet access, he was unable to even download the special ticket required for entry to the exam hall.

Mubeena Akhtar, a 12th-grader, said she had notes in emails and planned to share study material with friends using internet platforms.

"I have nothing to do with the protests that are going on," she said. "Why is the government punishing students for no fault of ours?"

This year alone, the government has shut down the net more than 18 times for security reasons, according to the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), a non-profit organization based in capital New Delhi.

The SFLC's latest report stated that in the past five years the internet has been been blocked 89 times in Kashmir, the highest total among India's 29 states.

Internet and phone services remained suspended in Kashmir for more than six months after violent protests erupted when militant leader Burhan Wani was shot dead in July, 2016, with at least 90 people killed and some 10,000 injured.

Nasir Hussain, a civil society activist in Kashmir, told ucanews.com that by cutting the internet the government was limiting opportunities for students attempting to prosper despite the regional strife.

"The government should evolve a system to insulate students from its anti-insurgency activities," Hussain said.

He called for reconciliation and dialogue and questioned how long internet bans could contain protests.

Such shutdowns, besides affecting students academically, also had a negative psychological impact, said Kashmir-based psychologist Yasir Ahmad.

Lack of access to the World Wide Web virtually put teenagers in a "cage" within the modern world. "If such a trend continues, it will have a disastrous impact on the minds of members of the younger generation," Ahmad said.

However, a police official, who asked not to be named, told ucanews.com that the internet shutdown has had the desired effect. "If the internet functions, even a small protest can instigate larger protests," he said.

Protesters usually took video clips and photos of protests that went viral on the internet, luring young people in other places to join demonstrations, he said. The security measure had prevented havoc and the loss of many more lives, he added.

A local media report said there was a significant financial cost to business and other internet users, including tens of thousands of dollars lost each day in relation to weekly or monthly data download packages.

Jammu and Kashmir state has suffered violence for the past 30 years. An estimated 100,000 people have died, including civilians, militants and army personnel, since various groups took up arms against Indian rule.

The conflict in Kashmir dates to 1947 when India and Pakistan become separate states after British rule ended. Both countries claim Kashmir in full and have fought at least three wars and numerous skirmishes over it. Each nation currently administers part of the Kashmir region.

Full report at:




South Asia


Bangladesh's EC scraps fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami's registration

October 29, 2018

Bangladesh's Election Commission (EC) Monday formally scrapped the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami, a crucial ally of jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia's Opposition BNP, five years after the Supreme Court disqualified the fundamentalist party from polls.

"The commission today scrapped the registration of the party on receipt of the full copy of the verdict of the Supreme Court's Appellate Division," an election commission spokesman said.

He said the EC has issued a notification cancelling the Jamaat's registration as a political party.

A high court bench in 2013 declared Jamaat's registration with the EC illegal on a writ petition filed by several Islamic groups, saying the party's ideology was contrary to Bangladesh's Constitution.

The Supreme Court upheld the high court judgment when Jamaat challenged the verdict in the apex court.

The hardline Islamist party, however, is now in a dilapidated state with most of its senior leaders executed in the past five years after being convicted by special tribunals on 1971 war crimes charges.

Jamaat was opposed to Bangladesh's 1971 independence from West Pakistan and its leaders and workers sided with Pakistani troops in carrying out atrocities and genocide in then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Bangladesh's post-independence government banned Jamaat but the subsequent regimes withdrew the ban allowing the party to re-emerge in politics.

The party became a crucial partner of Zia's BNP-led four-party alliance government in 2001 and its chief Moti-ur-Rahman Nizami and secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujaheed became ministers.

The incumbent Awami League government assuming power after its victory in the 2008 elections and initiated a process to bring to justice the Bengali perpetrators of the 1971 war crimes.

Both Nizami and Mujaheed were sentenced to death along with several other party stalwarts by special courts.




Gen. Votel reaffirms support to Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism

Oct 30 2018,

The Commander of the U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel reaffirmed support to Afghanistan in the fight against terrorism.

The Office of the National Security Council (ONSC) in a statement said Gen. Votel on Monday met with the National Security Adviser Dr. Hamdullah Mohib where the two sides held talks regarding the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and the region, Afghan-led peace efforts, joint fight against terrorism, reforms in security sector, and successful conduct of elections.

In regards to the ongoing fight against terrorism, Gen. Votel said the regional countries, specifically Pakistan should take practical steps in fighting the terror groups, according to Office of the National Security Council.

He also added that the United States support an Afghan-led peace process as he hailed the Afghan government for the implementation of programs in bringing reforms in security and defense sectors, fight against terrorism, and strengthening the armed forces capabilities.

In his turn, Dr. Mohib thanked the United States for the support in various sectors, specifically in bolstering the capabilities of the Afghan armed forces.

He said Afghanistan is committed in bringing reforms in security and defense sectors, emphasizing that the police forces would soon assume their original duty of law enforcement.

Full report at:




Bulldozing the past: Myanmar erasing evidence on Rohingya

Oct 30, 2018

Myanmar’s government has been destroying villages in Rakhine State and the physical evidence of state-sponsored violence committed against the Rohingya Muslims there, a report says.

The Guardian reported on Monday that Myanmarese authorities were destroying areas where thousands of Rohingya Muslims lived before either being killed or fleeing to Bangladesh amid deadly government-sponsored violence in Rakhine.

“Bulldozers and backhoes are parked beside new, blue-roofed homes, built by a government agency chaired by state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi,” the report said, referring to Myanmar’s de facto leader.

According to the newspaper, the authorities plan to settle non-Rohingya individuals in the new homes.

Inn Din village administrator Kyaw Soe Moe said during a government-organized media tour of northern Rakhine late last month that the new homes would soon be occupied by “Rakhine, Chin, Bamar, and Hindu people from other parts of the country.”

The United Nations (UN) Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, whose report last month called for the country’s military leaders to stand trial for “genocide” against minority Rohingya Muslims, said the purpose of the bulldozing and construction was “the removal of the Rohingya and all traces of them and their replacement with non-Rohingya.”

The Guardian further said that the construction boom also aimed to destroy the physical evidence that could be used in a potential tribunal.

Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.

Doctors without Borders, known by the French acronym MSF, has estimated that at least 6,700 Rohingya were killed between August 25 and 24 September 2017, but less than 100 bodies have been recovered.

“It’s a big question I ask myself: where are all the dead bodies?” said Chris Lewa, head of the Arakan Project, a human rights organization documenting the atrocities against the Rohingya community. “A year later, how will we find out? If we find bones, how will we know how or when they were killed, or whether they were killed at all?”

“As the past is bulldozed, the future chances of a Rohingya return look bleak. On the ground, efforts to erase their historical presence appear to be succeeding,” The Guardian wrote.

The UN says nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August 2017.

Myanmar and Bangladesh agreed in January to complete a voluntary repatriation of the refugees in two years. The repatriation, however, was delayed due to a lack of preparation as well as protests staged by Rohingya refugees against the plan to send them back to Myanmar while conditions were not safe for their return.

Kyaw Soe Moe, the administrator of Inn Din, said, “I don’t think the Muslims will come back.”

‘Myanmar can’t avoid accountability’

Meanwhile, a member of the UN fact-finding mission said Myanmar’s destruction of evidence won’t help it avoid accountability as there is other evidence that crimes occurred and were systemic.

“The [land] clearance is certainly destroying evidence, including of probable graves and sites of burning bodies, but it does not prevent accountability because of the great mass of other evidence,” Christopher Sidoti said.

Sidoti added that he and his colleagues had managed to collect sufficient witness and victim evidence to compile pre-prosecution briefs, which could one day be used by prosecutors.

Full report at:




Oikya Front won’t bring Jamaat-e-Islami to dialogue, Obaidul Quader hopes


Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader hopes that the Jatiya Oikya Front will not allow the Jamaat-e-Islami to join the dialogue with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

“I think there is no scope here (dialogue) for any party that has no registration," he said in a news conference at the Secretariat on Tuesday.

On Monday, five years after the High Court ruled that the Jamaat-e-Islami’s status as a political party be revoked, the Election Commission has executed the orders in a gazette.

Meanwhile, the prime minister invited the Jatiya Oikya Front led by Dr Kamal Hossain to talks in an effort to break an impasse over the next general election. The dialogue will be held at Ganabhaban at 7pm Thursday.

Asked to comment on any possibility of a Jamaat leader taking part in the dialogue with the prime minister, Quader said: “It seems to me that there’s no confusion. Dr Kamal Hossain said that he would not be with Jamaat. Didn’t he? Let’s see what he does. "

When he was reminded that Oikya Front leader Mahmudur Rahman Manna’s party is not registered either, he said, “It is up to him [Kamal Hossain] to choose representatives for the dialogue.”

“There will be discussions in an open atmosphere. Otherwise, we would not have arranged a dinner. We will talk in total openness.”

Full report at:




Suicide bomber detonates outside Kabul prison, killing 7

Oct 31, 2018

KABUL: An Interior Ministry official says a suicide bomber has struck outside the country's largest prison on the eastern edge of the capital Kabul, killing seven people, including prison workers and security personnel.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish says the attacker early Wednesday targeted a bus carrying prison workers. The sprawling Pul-eCharkhi prison houses hundreds of inmates, including scores of Taliban.

According to Abadullah Karimi, a prison official, the attack occurred near the prison gate where a number of visitors were waiting to pass a rigorous security check before entering.

No one has taken immediate responsibility for the attack.




Five senior Afghan Taliban leaders join Qatar’s political office: spokesman

Tahir Khan

OCTOBER 31, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Afghan Taliban announced on Tuesday that five senior Taliban leaders had joined the political office in Qatar.

This is seen as a significant step to move talks with the United States (US). Five Taliban leaders had been in Qatar since their release from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in May 2014 in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held hostage by the Taliban for nearly five years.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed to Daily Times that the former Guantanamo inmates were now a part of the political team. According to Taliban officials, Taliban political representatives held two meetings with the American officials in Qatar over the past three months and both sides agreed to continue talks.

Official talks have not started yet. However, the inclusion of the influential Taliban leaders in the negotiation team is a major step toward the beginning of formal talks. The move could also raise the credibility of the peace process for the Taliban military commanders and foot soldiers as the former Guantanamo inmates were among the close confidants of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The freed Taliban leaders are former interior minister Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, Taliban’s former army chief Muhammad Fazil, former governor of Balkh and Laghman Noorullah Noori, deputy intelligence chief of the Taliban regime Abdul Haq Wasiq and Taliban’s communication chief Nabi Omari.

Taliban sources had earlier confided to Daily Times that the leadership was likely to appoint a new head for the political office. Now sources indicated that one of the freed Taliban could lead the office.

Taliban sources said that the Americans had agreed to their call for the reopening of political office in Qatar that was closed days it was opened back in 2013. “The Americans are of the view that the office is a requirement. We now understand that the U.S. is considering our proposal. This is an absolute necessity. We have told them that reopening of the office will enable them to interact with the media to share with them true picture of the development,” a Taliban source said.

The office was closed after former president Hamid Karzai objected to the use of Islamic Emirate and the display of Taliban’s white flag, both of which had been used during their 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan. “We have raised the office issue in meetings in Qatar and want a decision before the start of the formal talks. We also called for lifting of sanctions on our leaders and the release of prisoners in custody of the US and Afghan government. But one thing I should add here that these are not conditions. These are only suggestions before the beginning of the formal talks,” the Taliban source said.

He said that the Taliban were currently in initial phase of the talks and both sides were ‘satisfied with the outcome so far.’

When asked if the release of Taliban’s former deputy chief Mullah Baradar by Pakistan was discussed in the Qatar meetings, the source said “We had raised the issue of Baradar and other leaders in all previous meetings. The Islamic Emirate freed many prisoners on the eve of Eid but the Kabul administration did not honor its promise to release our prisoners despite giving them lists.”

Full report at:




9 Taliban militants killed in AAF airstrikes in Nangarhar province

Oct 31 2018

At least nine anti-government armed militants were killed during the airstrikes conducted by the Afghan Air Force in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said Tuesday that the airstrikes were carried out in the vicinity of Khogyani district.

The statement further added the militants belonged to the Taliban group and a number of weapons and munitions were also destroyed during the same airstrikes.

According to 201st Silab Corps, two PKM machine guns, two rocket launchers, five Ak-47s, and some munitions were among the weapons destroyed in the airstrikes.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban militants have not commented regarding the report so far.

Full report at:




Several feared dead, wounded in a suicide attack near a prison in Kabul

Oct 31 2018

Several people were killed or wounded in a suicide attack near Pul Charkhi prison in capital Kabul earlier today.

The security officials confirm that a vehicle carrying the employees of the prison was targeted by a suicide bomber.

According to the officials, at least four people were killed and five others sustained injuries in the attack.

However, anther security source says at least seven people have been killed and more than 10 others have sustained injuries.

Full report at:






Nigerian group says troops shot, killed 27 Shiite Muslims

October 30, 2018

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's main Shiite Muslim movement says Nigerian troops shot and killed at least 27 of its members during a procession to the capital of Abuja.

Islamic Movement of Nigeria spokesman Ibrahim Musa said six people were killed on Saturday and another 21 on Monday.

Nigeria's military said it killed six people and that the Shiite protesters fired first at soldiers.

Musa said Tuesday that many members were taking part in a religious procession, which coincided with a protest calling for the release of their movement's pro-Iran leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky.

Zakzaky has been jailed since December 2015, when the military killed hundreds in a major attack on Shiites in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria.

Nigerian Muslims are predominantly Sunnis. The Shiite Muslim minorities say they are suffer religious persecution.




Jordanian PM says govt takes full responsibility for Dead Sea flood casualties

30 October 2018

Jordan’s Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz said the government takes full moral and managerial responsibility for the Dead Sea flood, which caused 21 casualties and dozens of injuries last Thursday.

During a House of Representatives session on Tuesday, Razzaz said that the government must verify the details of the incident and find out what the shortcomings and institutional mistakes were so as to avoid such tragedies in the future.

Razzaz added that those involved in the rescue mission who failed to follow instructions and broke the law should stand trial, including those who did not live up to their responsibilities who should step down from their positions.

Razzaz said that these faults must be paid attention to in order to avoid these types of incidents, adding that the government still takes full responsibility.

Several other parliament members called for the removal of Jordanian ministers in light of the incident while others threatened to put forth a motion of no confidence from Razzaz’s government.

According to the police, torrential rains swept away a bus carrying 44 children and teachers who were on a school trip picnicking in the popular destination.

The death toll from the floods in the Dead Sea rose to 21 and 42 injured.

A bridge on one of the cliffs of the Dead Sea had collapsed with the intensity of the rains, the first such heavy rains after the end of the summer season.

Full report at:




Mass killings ‘blight’ on reputation: Nigerian leader


The unabated loss of multiple human lives represents a “blight” on Nigeria and its people, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday.

“Government will take strongest measures possible to punish perpetrators of these crimes. If, in the past, they got away scot-free, we shall now hold everyone to account for these latest killings,” Buhari said during a visit to northwest Kaduna state, where a recent ethno-religious violence claimed at least 55 lives, including a tribal chief.

“Chaos and anarchy tend to worsen and exacerbate whatever issues are agitating a community.

Violence shatters and divides people and stifles the prospect of any community that succumbs to its tragic logic,” he added.

He said killings are becoming too rampant in the country to the extent that the global community no longer expresses outrage at the loss of human lives.

At least 25 suspects have been arrested in connection with the violence at Kasuwan Magani, with government slapping weeks long curfew on the affected communities to avoid reprisals.

Full report at:




Somalia: Al-Shabab says blast killed 30 Ethiopian soldiers


MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist group Al-Shabab said Monday it has killed at least 30 Ethiopian soldiers in an explosion in central Somalia, Garowe Online reports.

In a statement posted on its affiliated websites, the extremists announced that they used a remote-controlled landmine to attack a military convoy carrying Ethiopian troops outside Beledweyne.

The remote-controlled roadside bomb struck the convoy as it left Beleweyne and en route to Kalabeyr, located near Somalia's border with Ethiopia, according to the local residents.

"We heard a huge explosion at El-Gal area, situated approximately 20 Kilometers east of Beledweyne, and followed by a heavy exchange of gunfire shortly before noon," said a villager, speaking to Garowe Online by phone on condition of anonymity.

Monday's IED attack took place in the town of El-Gal, which lies in the Hiraan region of central Somalia, about 300km north of the country's capital Mogadishu.

There were independent sources confirming Al-Shabab's claim of the death toll.

Last month, Ethiopia’s air force said it killed about 70 al-Shabab extremists in an airstrike in an undisclosed location in neighboring Somalia.

Ethiopian troops who are serving with the UN-mandated AU Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] have been battling Al-Shabaab since their invasion of the country in 2006.

The AU mission has not yet commented on the incident.

Full report at:






Denmark recalls ambassador to Iran over foiled attack

30 October 2018

Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran after it accused Tehran of plotting a foiled attack against three Iranians living in the Scandinavian country.

“I have decided to recall Denmark’s ambassador in Tehran for consultations... Denmark can in no way accept that people with ties to Iran’s intelligence service plot attacks against people in Denmark,” Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen told reporters.

The head of Denmark's security service said on Tuesday he suspected an Iranian intelligence service had attempted to carry out an attack on an individual in Denmark.

The attack had meant to target the leader of the Danish branch of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA), Finn Borch Andersen told a press conference.

Officers had arrested a Norwegian citizen with Iranian background on Oct. 21, he added.

The head of the Police Intelligence Service (PET) Finn Borch Andersen told a press conference that a Norwegian citizen with Iranian roots on October 21 had been arrested for having “Iranian intelligence service able to work in Denmark”.

“In short, it is a case of an Iranian intelligence company that, in our view, planned an attack in Denmark,” he said.

Meanwhile, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen called the suspected planned attacks in Denmark “perfectly unacceptable”.

“The government will react to Iran,” he said.




British generosity on show as £80k raised for Syrian child's spinal surgery

October 30, 2018

Declared dead after a missile struck his Syrian home, the body of Najib Ali was being prepared for burial when his mother touched his ankle in a final gesture of farewell and detected a faint pulse.

Extensive surgery in Syria saved the life of the ten-year-old boy, but the shrapnel embedded in his spine from the attack near Homs left him in agony, unable to walk and suffering from kidney failure.

Five years on from the attack and after an epic journey for treatment, the teenager is set for treatment in the UK that could save his damaged organs and lead the way to a tiny chance that he could walk again.

His parent's extraordinary dedication saw them push Najib, now aged 14, in a wheelchair from Syria, through Turkey and into Greece for medical help.

In Greece, where Najib, his parents and two brothers were given refugee status, the family were told 18 months ago that he needed spinal reconstruction surgery.

"Najib couldn't be helped in Greece because the rehabilitation services there only had one consultant on the ward and they didn't have a space for him," Hanan Ashegh, founder of Goodwill Caravan, the charity helping Najib, told The National.

“It's been an uphill battle, like climbing a mountain,” said Ms Asegh, citing the bureaucratic obstacles faced by refugees in securing treatment.

Through a crowd-funding appeal, Britons donated between £5 and £500 per month for his care and journey to London's specialist children’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for six hours of reconstructive surgery.

The appeal has raised £78,000 for Najib’s care since 2017 and his surgeon Dr Ramesh Nadarajah has waived his fee for the operation this Thursday.

“What I intend to do is straighten out his spine as much as I can and level his pelvis,” Dr Nadarajah said at a consultation with Najib witnessed by Sky News.

“I will put screws into the bony part of his spine and interconnect it with two long rods and that straightens out the spine quite a lot.”

Following the surgery, Najib will remain at GOSH for 15 days then move to a specialist spinal cord injury unit for another eight weeks for rehabilitation.

He will then be flown back to Greece and await approval for an experimental surgery in Poland which his family hope will give him the ability to walk again.

The surgery has a one per cent success rate, but the family are willing to try anything to help him recover.

Despite raising enough funds for Najib's initial surgery, the charity is now looking for further funding for his post-operative care. The charity needs £30,000 for two months of private rehabilitation.

Goodwill Caravan mainly works with some of the 2,500 orphaned or unaccompanied refugee children in Greece, many of whom are detained in prisons and detention centres, supposedly for their safety.

Full report at:




UK Foreign Secretary to MPs: I had no prior knowledge of Khashoggi plot

Oct 30, 2018

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday he had no previous knowledge of the Saudi murder plot against journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2.

Khashoggi, who had been an outspoken critic of the Saudi crown prince, was killed in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul.

Saudi Arabia initially denied all knowledge of the journalist’s fate but the Saudi public prosecutor has since described it as premeditated murder organized by “rogue agents”.

Reports on Sunday suggested that MI6 had discovered the plot and had warned Saudi Arabia to cancel the mission.

The Foreign Secretary, speaking in the House of Commons, denied he had any knowledge — but refused to speculate on what was known by British intelligence.

Hunt was forced to clarify that he had “no prior knowledge” of the plot after media reports suggested the British intelligence services had been made aware three weeks before the incident.

The media report said that the details British intelligence knew “included primary orders to capture Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for questioning.”

Hunt said: “It is not possible for a foreign secretary or indeed any minister to comment on intelligence matters, for very obvious reasons.”

“But, I did not know about this attack,” he added.

The comments came after a question from Labour MP Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough), who said: “Media reports have surfaced this weekend suggesting UK intelligence services were aware of the Saudi plan to abduct the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and take him back to Riyadh, and of the deployment of the hit squad to Istanbul for that purpose.

“Can I give the Foreign Secretary the opportunity to tell the House today that those reports are categorically untrue?”

“We are as shocked as anyone else is about what happened,” Hunt repeated.

“If the allegations in this weekend’s report are true, they are extremely serious,” Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry said, following up the question about Khashoggi.

“It was reported in early September that our intelligence services became aware of the Saudi plan to abduct Jamal Khashoggi and on October 1 they knew that a Saudi team had been dispatched to Istanbul for that purpose,” she said.

Thornberry said the allegations are “very serious,” adding that “it won’t do to hide behind a blanket refusal to discuss intelligence matters.”

She questioned whether the foreign secretary would accept an invitation to a closed-door emergency session to discuss the matter with the Intelligence Security Commission.

Hunt said he would accept such an invitation but added that the desire for him to reveal very important intelligence is “inappropriate.”

“Saudi Arabia is a human rights country of concern for the Foreign Office. We have our regular discussions with them about our concerns,” Hunt also said during the session at parliament.

Asked by Conservative MO Sir Desmond Swayne whether there are regrets over seeking the election of Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council, Hunt said: “There are all sorts of issues with respect to Saudi Arabia’s human rights record that are in sharp relief at the moment."

He added: “But … I have spoken more clearly than any Western foreign minister that if the Khashoggi stories turn out to be true, that would be inconsistent with our values.”

Over the weekend, sources close to Khashoggi revealed that he was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen.

Full report at:




Merkel underlines importance of civil society in Egypt


By Ayhan Simsek


Germany’s chancellor on Tuesday underlined the crucial role of civil society in Egypt after meeting in Berlin with the visiting Egyptian president.

“President [Fattah] al-Sisi repeatedly says he wants to be the president of all Egyptians, and he is currently enjoying his second term in office,” Angela Merkel told a joint press conference at the Chancellory.

“We are encouraging him to develop civil society and see that as an opportunity,” she said, but stopped short of criticizing the country's human rights situation.

Merkel also thanked Egypt for its efforts to stop the flow of illegal immigration into Europe.

“Egypt is controlling its maritime border in an excellent way. There is no immigration into Europe, despite the fact that there are many refugees living in the country,” she stressed.

Merkel said during their meeting, they also discussed regional issues, including the situation in Libya and in Syria, and the Middle East conflict.

“We also briefly discussed the situation in Gaza. Both of us are advocates of a two-state solution, which however has become rather complex, because of the current situation,” she said.

Al-Sisi is in Berlin to attend the G20 Compact with Africa conference, hosted by the German government to support private investment and infrastructure projects in Africa.

A former army chief, al-Sisi ousted Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in a military coup in 2013.

A year later, he was elected president for a four-year term.

Full report at:




'Jamal Khashoggi deserves a dignified burial'


By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal


Slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi deserves a “dignified burial,” so “please hand over his body,” Daud Abdullah, the director of Middle East Monitor, is pleading Saudi authorities.

Abdullah spoke to Anadolu Agency before a memorial event in London to remember Khashoggi, organized by not-for-profit press monitoring organization Middle East Monitor and the Al Sharq Forum, an independent pro-democracy, non-partisan, non-profit think-tank focusing on the greater Mideast.

He said the gathering Monday was organized to recognize Khashoggi’s achievements as a journalist and internationalist.

“In the latter years of his life he was based in Washington at the Washington Post,” Abdullah said, adding that this gave him a platform to cast his message far and wide.

Abdullah said Khashoggi spread his message of “equality for justice and freedom.”

Underlining how Saudi authority admitted that Khashoggi was killed in their Istanbul Consulate after weeks of denial, he urged them to hand over the journalist’s body.

“We have just one message [for the Saudis]: We plead in the name of the God, for God’s sake, hand over the body!”

“He is entitled to have a dignified burial,” he added.

However, he added, the case will not be closed until those responsible for the murder are held accountable. 

‘No ordinary crime’

Galip Dalay, research director of the Al Sharq Forum, thinks Khashoggi was no victim of an ordinary crime.

Also speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dalay said the last two events the Saudi journalist attended were organized late last month by the Al Sharq Forum in Istanbul and Middle East Monitor in London -- the latter just four days before his death -- and this is why the two organizations are hosting the memorial event.

“Jamal was not killed in a petty criminal activity,” he said.

Khashoggi was killed in a “premeditated” action ordered by top-level authorities in Saudi Arabia, Dalay said.

“All the findings... are pointing to [Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman; in one way or another, [they] link the case to Mohammed bin Salman.”

Dalay said merely prosecuting those who killed Khashoggi will not satisfy justice.

He said: “Who gave the order? What was the network? Who was involved in this case from the political level?

“They should also be brought to justice,” he said, adding that this should pave the way to a “universal jurisdiction” regarding the killing.

Khashoggi’s journalist friends, human rights activists, politicians, and academics joined the memorial service held in central London.

The meeting saw an emotional speech from Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz, who got an ovation lasting minutes.

The event, titled “Remembering Jamal,” also featured speeches by Abdullah, Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, and some prominent journalists.

Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post, went missing after entering the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

After weeks of denying any knowledge of his whereabouts, on Oct. 19 Saudi officials admitted that Khashoggi had died inside the consulate building.

Full report at:



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