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Islamic World News (10 Jan 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)


There Will Be Pakistan in Every City If Love Jihad Is Not Stopped, Says BJP MLA

















A faction of the Republican Party in Tarrant County say Shahid Shafi, a Muslim, is unfit for a leadership position because of his religion. PHOTO: AMANDA VOISARD/ASSOCIATED PRESS

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There Will Be Pakistan in Every City If Love Jihad Is Not Stopped, Says BJP MLA

Indian Television Content Damages Our Culture: Pakistan Chief Justice

Malaysia's Leaders Should Only Be Muslims, Says Cleric

Plans To Vote Out Republican Leader in Texas Because ‘He Is Muslim’

End to War Will Remain ‘Dream’ If Taliban Don’t Talk To Kabul: Abdullah

Thurrock Parents Take Children Out Of Islam RE Classes

 

India

There Will Be Pakistan in Every City If Love Jihad Is Not Stopped, Says BJP MLA

If Taliban want peace, talk to them: Army chief

NIA registers case against youths in alleged ISIS connection

IAS officer Shah Faesal quits, citing intolerance

India’s role is essential in Afghanistan, Trump mocking it unfortunate: Russian Dy FM

National General Secretary of Jamiat-ul-Ulema warns Asaduddin Owaisi

Definite trend and desperation on Pakistan’s part to indigenise terrorism in Kashmir: Top Army officer

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Pakistan

Indian Television Content Damages Our Culture: Pakistan Chief Justice

Professional armies deter wars, guarantee peace, Gen Bajwa says

Islamabad ‘pushing’ Taliban for direct contact with Kabul

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia may ink $10bn MoUs this month

PTI withdraws ECP petition against Zardari, plans to pursue case in SC

Afghan delegation visits Wali Bagh as part of peace efforts

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Southeast Asia

Malaysia's Leaders Should Only Be Muslims, Says Cleric

If India Provides Concrete Evidence against Zakir Naik, We Won't Compromise, Says Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim

Stop misleading customers by displaying Quranic verses, food premises without Halal cert warned

China Approves Policy to Make Islam ‘More Chinese,’ Invites Inspectors to Labour Camps

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North America

Plans To Vote Out Republican Leader in Texas Because ‘He Is Muslim’

From Trinidad to Mosul: Why the Caribbean island's young set sail for ISIS territory

Pompeo: Erdogan threats against Kurds will not stop Syria withdrawal

Iran dismisses as 'lies' reports about US citizen's well-being in detention

US Muslim group sues Maryland for anti-BDS bill

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South Asia

End to War Will Remain ‘Dream’ If Taliban Don’t Talk To Kabul: Abdullah

30 Taliban, ISIS-K militants killed in separate operations of Afghan and coalition forces

Taliban commander Mullah Basir and his 20 fighters killed in Balkh airstrike

Reporters without Borders reacts to the killing of a journalist by Taliban

Key Taliban leader surrenders to Afghan forces in Jawzjan province

Afghan officials: Taliban attacks kill 21 policemen

Rohingya Hindu Refugees in Bangladesh Want To Return To Myanmar: US Daily

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Europe

Thurrock Parents Take Children Out Of Islam RE Classes

British ‘yellow vest’ leader wanted to ‘ban Islam from the west’

Alleged ISIS member to face trial over Brussel’s terrorist attack that killed four

Russia begins patrols outside flashpoint city in northern Syria

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Arab World

Top Syrian official visits Saudi Arabia as Syria-Arab ties warm up after long deep freeze: Report

Saudi, UAE, Egypt working with Israel to counter Iran, Turkey influence in Syria: Report

Kurds capture 8 extremists including US teenager

US Army Sends 4,000 More Troops to Iraq's Kirkuk Province

Iraqi MP: Israeli Intelligence Forces among US Troops in Iraq

Syrian Army Foils Terrorists' Attacks in Hama, Idlib, Inflicts Heavy Losses on Militants

Saudi ambassador to US: We continue to support Yemen until it is rid of militias

Saudi state security operation in Qatif ends with killing of 6 wanted suspects

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Mideast

‘EU Harbours Terrorists, Blacklists Terror-Fighting Iran’

Khamenei: US Sanctions Putting Pressure On Iran And Iranians

Five soldiers killed in Houthi drone attack targeting Yemeni army parade

Bid to launch ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia backfires, kills 15 Houthis

Several Saudi-backed militants killed in Yemen’s retaliatory drone raid

Erdogan threats against Kurds will not stop Syria withdrawal, Pompeo says

Muslim group sues to block ‘No Boycott of Israel’ measure

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Africa

Three killed as police use tear gas against protesters in Sudan

Bashir backers stage Sudan rally as rival demo planned

Nigerian lawyer mediates peace talks with Boko Haram

US military kills 6 Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia

More than 30,000 flee Boko Haram violence in NE Nigeria: UN

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/there-will-be-pakistan-in-every-city-if-love-jihad-is-not-stopped,-says-bjp-mla/d/117421

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There Will Be Pakistan in Every City If Love Jihad Is Not Stopped, Says BJP MLA

Jan 09, 2019

New Delhi: Former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Katariya sparked row when he said that Hindus need to unite and vote for PM Narendra Modi in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Addressing a rally in Parshvnath temple in Vallabhnagar in Udaipur, Kataria further warned there will be Pakistan in every city of the country if people don’t wake up on time. “Love jihad is increasing in this country and now is the time for change Udaipur will also be like the Jaipur,” Kataria added.

Kataria claimed that in old Jaipur, people from a certain community are preventing Hindus to pray while the Gods are weeping in the temple. “No one is worshipping and taking care of them. There is still time or else Udaipur will turn into Jaipur,” the former state home minister said.

Kataria, who is a two-time former home minister, appealed to the people to save their girls from the evil clutches of ‘Love Jihad’ which according to him is one of the biggest problems faced by the Hindu communities.

Kataria had defeated Congress' Girija Vyas by 9307 votes from Udaipur. In the recently concluded state assembly elections, the BJP managed to win two seats out of the eight seats while the Congress won six.

Meanwhile, the Congress attacked Kataria for his controversial statement and said that the saffron party lost the polls and that is why the party is resorting to polarisation card.

The Congress further advised Kataria to stop creating a communal divide between the Hindus and Muslims for political gains and focus on development.

https://www.timesnownews.com/india/article/pakistan-love-jihad-rajasthan-gulab-chand-kataria-udaipur-jaipur-girija-vyas-congress-parshvnath-temple-vallabhnagar/344179

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Indian television content damages our culture: Pakistan chief justice

Jan 9, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday justified the ban on broadcasting of Indian television content in the country, with an observation that it “damaged” Pakistan’s culture.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar made the remark while hearing the appeal of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory  Authority (Pemra), an independent body that regulates content of electronic media in Pakistan, against the decision of a high court to ban the transmission of Indian content on local TV channels.

The Pemra had imposed a blanket ban on all Indian content in October 2016, after relations between the two countries nosedived following a terrorist attack on an Indian military base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir. In July 2017, the Lahore high court had lifted the ban, terming it null and void. The Supreme Court in October 2018 restored the ban on broadcast, setting aside the Lahore HC orders.

On Wednesday, Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri, Pemra’s counsel, explained before a three-member apex court bench that foreign content had been banned on court orders before a high court issued a stay order against it. Saleem Baig, Pemra’s chairman, informed the court that 65 percent of the content shown on entertainment channel, Filmazia, is foreign and at times it goes up to 80 percent.

At this Chief Justice Nisar said, “We will not allow Indian content to be aired on Pakistani channels.”

When Pemra’s counsel tried to explain before the court that Filmazia was not a news channel and it was not involved in any propaganda, Nisar remarked: “It is, however, damaging our culture.”

The court did not announce the judgement, citing the absence of the counsel of Pakistan Broadcasters Association. “We cannot pass a judgement without hearing him,” the top judge said before adjourning the hearing till the first week of February.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/indian-television-content-damages-our-culture-pakistan-chief-justice/articleshow/67457184.cms

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Malaysia's leaders should only be Muslims, says cleric

January 9, 2019

With trials set to begin and scores of Malaysia's former leaders facing jail for corruption and financial crimes, a powerful Muslim cleric-turned-politician has decried efforts to enforce the rule of law irrespective of the religious status of the defendants.

Malaysian Islamic Party chief, Hadi Awang, fighting a rearguard action to dispel growing disillusionment and among his co-religionists over the morality and ethics of the nation's former Muslim leaders, said their religion should be taken into consideration when judging them.

In a lengthy opinion piece titled "Rule of Law: Where is Allah?" on Facebook where he has thousands of followers, Hadi stressed the importance of Islamic laws in governing the country.

The cleric, who is also an MP, argued that Muslims should continue to trust Muslim leaders regardless of the crimes they may have committed.

"If the one leading is a Muslim, even if he were cruel, at least [others] can become cattle herders," he wrote in a rehash of a quote attributed to a medieval Muslim ruler following the fall of his kingdom that he often cites to justify Islamic governance.

He warned Muslims that they will end up in hell if non-Muslims are allowed to participate in governing the Muslim majority country.

"But if the one who leads is a non-Muslim, even if he were the kindest, [others] can work however they wish [but] without any limits of what is 'halal' [permissible] and 'haram' [forbidden] they will still end up in hell."

In his piece, Hadi stressed that Malaysia can only be saved by Muslims and Shariah law, which he said is superior to man-made laws.

He also claimed that only an Islamic party deserves to inherit Quranic teachings to provide such guidance — a veiled reference to his own Islamist party — rather than a party devoid of morals and faith to God and his prophet.

Hadi urged that the government leaders who were ousted in last May's election, be pardoned for their crimes.

"Don't ever take the infidelic West as an example, because the best of them will still end up in hell, since their kindness is without any faith to Allah," he wrote.

Malaysia's current prime minister, Mahathir Mohammad, has stressed that no one is above the law and civil and criminal statutes apply to all regardless of religion or status.

Hadi has long been a proponent of Malay-Muslim rule. In 2017, he pointed out that Malaysia should be led by Malay-Muslims as they are the dominant community, and suggested that the group holds the top decision-making positions in the cabinet.

According to independent research firm, the Ilham Centre, there is no widespread condemnation by the Malay and Muslim community of the government of disgraced former premier, Najib Razak, despite its alleged corrupt misrule that saw it ousted in May last year.

Najib is accused of corruption and money laundering in connection with $681m that was found his bank account, allegedly from the 1MDB government economic development fund.

In a study conducted by the center, many in the community were also said to be against the Mahathir's appointment of two Christians — Richard Malanjum as chief justice and Tommy Thomas as attorney-general — and see it as an anathema in Muslim-majority Malaysia.

The people surveyed disagreed with non-Malays holding the top posts as they felt such appointments threatened the position of Islam and Malay special rights.

https://www.ucanews.com/news/malaysias-leaders-should-only-be-muslims-says-cleric/84245

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Plans to vote out Republican leader in Texas because ‘he is Muslim’

January 9, 2019

Shahid Shafi, an India-born Republican leader in Texas may be ousted as the party’s vice chairman for being a Muslim and allegedly preferring Islamic over US law, according to media reports. A group of Tarrant County Republicans will vote on Thursday on whether to remove Shafi as vice-chairman of the county party after a small faction of the members put forth a formal motion to oust him because he is Muslim, The Texas Tribune reported.

Those in favour of the motion to recall Shafi, a trauma surgeon and member of the Southlake City Council, have said he does not represent all Tarrant County Republicans. They have also said Islamic ideologies run counter to the US Constitution — an assertion many Texas Republican officials have called bigoted.

Shafi himself has denied the allegations. “This is, unfortunately, not the first time that people or my political opponents have tried to use my religion against me to distract the voters. And unfortunately, I don’t think it will be the last either,” Shafi told The Washington Post.

Shafi, born in India and raised in Pakistan, travelled to the US to study medicine. He became a naturalised citizen in 2009 and, since then, has been involved with the Republican Party. In an open letter, he wrote that he believed “much of the hate against Muslims is driven by a fear of terrorism”, the Tribune report said.

“Here are the facts. I have never had any association with the Muslim Brotherhood nor (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) nor any terrorist organisation,” he wrote.

“I believe that the laws of our nation are our Constitution and the laws passed by our elected legislatures — I have never promoted any form of Sharia Law. I fully support and believe in American Laws for American Courts. I am honoured to be an American and a Republican,” he was quoted as saying.

Several prominent Texas Republicans have rallied behind Shafi leading up to Thursday’s vote — a list that includes US Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Land Commissioner George P Bush and former House Speaker Joe Straus.

Thursday’s motion “is about religious prejudice”, said Darl Easton, the Tarrant County Republican Chairman who appointed Shafi to his role in July. “(Shafi’s) very active with the party, but most of the people don’t even care about what he’s done. Most of them already have a prejudice against Muslims, and a lot of that comes from the attack on 9/11 and the Sharia law they claim all Muslims must obey,” Easton said.

He said it was unclear whether Thursday’s vote will happen in public, behind closed doors or be delayed indefinitely, Easton added.

https://indianexpress.com/article/world/texas-county-republicans-set-to-vote-on-muslim-vice-chairmans-ouster/

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End to war will remain ‘dream’ if Taliban don’t talk to Kabul: Abdullah

January 10, 2019

KABUL: Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said on Wednesday that the Taliban’s refusal to involve the government in peace talks means the end to a conflict that has lasted 17 years can only remain a dream.

Abdullah’s remarks came a day after the Taliban called off a fourth round of talks with US officials in Qatar, due to start this week, over disagreements about the involvement of Afghan officials, a possible ceasefire and prisoner exchange.

Efforts for a negotiated settlement have gathered pace in recent weeks, even as reports that US President Donald Trump plans to withdraw thousands of US troops triggered uncertainty.

The US is pressing Taliban leaders to sit down with Afghan government officials but the Taliban see the US as the main power and dismiss the Kabul administration as a puppet.

“In any peace deal in which the rights of our citizens, that have been gained with a lot of sacrifices, are not respected, the deal is a dream and will never happen,” Abdullah told gathering in Kabul, commemorating the 15th anniversary of the constitution. “Today the talk about the withdrawal of foreign forces is an excuse for continuation of war and gaining more opportunities.”

A Taliban leader told Reuters that the talks, which would have been the fourth round with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, would have focused on a US withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders. Taliban sources said that they had demanded that US authorities release 25,000 prisoners and that they would free 3,000, but that US officials were not keen to discuss the exchange.

The war in Afghanistan is America’s longest overseas military intervention. It has cost Washington nearly $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people.

Abdullah, who shares power with President Ashraf Ghani after a US-brokered political deal in 2014 that led to formation of a coalition government, said the Taliban have not changed since their austere regime was toppled by US-led forces in 2001. “We haven’t seen any change in the Taliban so far and that country that supports them, has not unfortunately changed its policies toward us either,” said Abdullah, referring to Pakistan which Kabul accuses of harbouring Taliban leaders. Pakistan denies the charge and says it is encouraging the Taliban to talk directly with the Afghan government.

A senior Afghan government official said the talks also would have involved discussion about the formation of an interim administration known as the “peace government” after US forces announce a withdrawal and the Taliban accept a ceasefire. The peace government would bring all warring parties under one administration until the Taliban are fully integrated and election are held.

But Ghani has strongly opposed any interim government. Abdullah called on Afghans to support the current administration instead. “They say they are not the Taliban of the past and they have learnt lessons and are in favour of an inclusive government, but they instead go and talk to some individuals and call them elders which is against our national interest,” Abdullah said, referring to political figures. “They do this to show that the government is either weak or does not exist,” he added.

The impasse over the talks comes as Afghanistan prepares to hold presidential elections in July with many Afghans believing the vote may be cancelled if a peace deal is reached with the Taliban. Presidential candidates, including Ghani who seeks a second five-year term, have not officially announced they are running as coalition-building among leaders of various ethnic groups debated whom to support.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on a visit to India that Iran has had intelligence contacts with the Taliban because it needed to secure border areas controlled by the Taliban on the Afghan side. “I think it would be impossible to have a future Afghanistan without any role for the Taliban,” Zarif, who is in New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders, told NDTV in an interview. “But we also believe that the Taliban should not have a dominant role in Afghanistan.”

Zarif said it was up to Afghans to decide what role the Taliban should have but Afghanistan’s neighbours would not want them to be in overall control. “Nobody in the region believes that a Taliban dominated Afghanistan is in the security interests of the region. I believe that is almost a consensus.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1456602

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Thurrock parents take children out of Islam RE classes

9 January 2019

A growing number of parents are taking their children out of religious education lessons in protest at the teaching of Islam, officials have said.

Members of a local education body believe "integration issues" in Thurrock, Essex, are fuelling the rise.

The town's Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE) is due to meet Thurrock Council bosses to ask for the "nature and extent" of withdrawals to be investigated.

The council has been asked for comment.

In a report published online, SACRE said that most hate crimes recorded in Thurrock were against Muslims, and reducing the number was seen as "a priority".

It read: "SACRE is aware that some schools in Thurrock have experienced these tensions directly. For example, parents have objected to the teaching of Islam and withdrawn children from lessons and visits to places of worship.

"The outcome for those children, who arguably are those that most need to be taught about Islam, are no longer being taught about it."

'Inaccurate views'

The report added: "It is not clear whether or not this is a widespread issue in Thurrock, but it is clear that SACRE needs to investigate.

"Schools have a statutory duty to promote community cohesion."

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said that in today's "increasingly diverse" society, it is "more crucial than ever to learn about each other's faith and cultures".

He added: "As hostility towards Muslim communities remains widespread and more young people are brought up with inaccurate views about Muslims, we believe visits to mosques are an important way to help resolve misunderstandings."

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-essex-46813567

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India

 

If Taliban want peace, talk to them: Army chief

Jan 10, 2019

NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday backed talks with the Taliban if they were ready for lasting peace in Afghanistan, while calling for some international curbs on social media to stem the rise in radicalisation as well as terror-funding.

Gen Rawat also said terrorism, which was transforming into a new form of warfare, will continue to grow like a “multi-headed monster” till nations continue to sponsor it as a state policy. In a clear reference to Pakistan, he said a “weaker nation” was using terrorists as a proxy tool to put pressure on other nations to come to terms with it.

Speaking at the Raisina Dialogue here, the Army chief said, “There should be talks with Taliban so long as they don’t come with pre-conditions, so long as they are looking at lasting peace in Afghanistan and bring about stability in that country… It’s in our interest, region’s interest, and in Pakistan’s interest. We all want stability.” He, however, noted Pakistan had always “treated Afghanistan as its backyard” and wanted a situation that favours it in the warravaged country.

Stressing that social media was increasingly being used to fan radicalism through misinformation as well as generate financial resources for terrorism, Gen Rawat said it was about time that some control was exercised on it.

“I think we have a lot to do with the media and the social media which must be controlled. If one particular nation starts controlling a particular media, it will be taken as media rights are being curbed,” he said. “Therefore, I think the international community must get together in ensuring that the source of the social media is prevented from spreading false information and disinformation because a lot of funds are coming from people who are getting radicalised,” he added.

In Kashmir, for instance, he said the youth were getting radicalised by “a lot of misinformation, disinformation and a lot of falsehoods” on religion and other matters that they are getting through the social media. “That is why more and more educated youth are being drawn into terrorism,” he added.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/if-taliban-want-peace-talk-to-them-army-chief/articleshow/67463545.cms

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NIA registers case against youths in alleged ISIS connection

Jan 9, 2019

NEW DELHI: National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered a case against around 7-8 youths hailing from Kerala and Karnataka but based in Qatar who travelled to or prepared for travel to Syria since 2013 to join terrorist outfits Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat-ul-Nusra, both believed to be associated with Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Jund al-Aqsa, a militant group operating primarily in Idlib and Hama provinces of Syria, was proscribed in 2017 by the UN for being associated with the ISIL and Al Qaida in Iraq.

The youths are believed to have been radicalised while living in Qatar and had conducted preparations for or travelled to Syria from 2013 onwards.

NIA sources on Wednesday said ongoing investigation into other cases involving youth from Kerala who had attempted to or joined IS, threw up information on these Qatar-based youth having joined terrorist groups other than IS in Syria. “NIA is aware of the identity and addresses of these youth. However, it is not clear how the youth travelled to Syria and if they are still alive or dead,” said a source.

In past instances, youth from Kerala have travelled to Syria via two routes. First, travelling to Turkey by flight and then crossing the border illegally to reach Syria, and second, taking a flight to a Gulf country and then travelling to Iran from where they travel to Turkey by road before crossing over to Syria.

NIA probe will seek to know the history of their radicalisation and how they managed to reach Syria.

Investigators said this is the first case of Indian youth travelling to Syria to join a terrorist outfit other than IS.

Jund al Aqsa, as per the UN website, is a militant group that operates primarily in the Idlib and Hama provinces of Syria. The group was formed in 2012 as a subunit of Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant (QDe.137) (also known as Jabhat alNusra). In October 2016 it was estimated that JAA is comprised of approximately 1,600 militants, mostly foreign terrorist fighters.

JAA has continued to participate in terrorist operations alongside Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, but also acts an independent group. JAA has repeatedly deployed terrorist tactics in pursuit of its goal of establishing a state based on a similar ideology to that of ISIL, listed as Al-Qaida in Iraq. JAA has used suicide bombing tactics on multiple occasions, summarily executed prisoners and engaged in other extrajudicial killings of civilians for their religious views.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-registers-case-against-youths-in-alleged-isis-connection/articleshow/67460527.cms

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IAS officer Shah Faesal quits, citing intolerance

10.01.19

By Muzaffar Raina

The sole Kashmiri civil service exam topper has said he will step down from the Indian Administrative Service to protest the “growing culture of intolerance” and “the marginalization and invisiblization of around 200 million Indian Muslims”.

IAS officer Shah Faesal, who has emerged as a strong advocate of the idea of India, announced his decision on Facebook.

“(I am resigning to protest) the marginalization and invisiblization of around 200 million Indian Muslims at the hands of Hindutva forces, reducing them to second-class citizens… growing culture of intolerance and hate in the mainland India in the name of hypernationalism,” he wrote.

Faesal gave no indication that he would join politics but the possibility surfaced with National Conference leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeting: “The bureaucracy’s loss is politics’ gain. Welcome to the fold @shahfaesal.”

As speculation arose that Faesal might contest the Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla, Omar clarified that he had merely welcomed Faesal “to the fold of politicians” and his “future political plans are his to announce”.

Sources said Omar’s party was in touch with Faesal.

In his post, Faesal said he was resigning also in protest against unabated killings in Kashmir, lack of any sincere outreach from the Union government and an insidious attack on the special identity of Jammu and Kashmir.

Several petitioners, said to be backed by the Sangh parivar, have moved the Supreme Court to scrap Articles 35A and 370, two constitutional provisions that guarantee Kashmir its special status.

Faesal, 35, an MBBS graduate from a remote village in Kupwara, had topped the 2010 IAS examinations and was soon pitched by the country’s political elite as a role model that Kashmiris should follow.

The bureaucrat, whose father was killed by militants when he was still in school, became a strong advocate of the idea of India.

“Looking at the crisis in the Muslim world, it will serve us well if we help ourselves out of the time warp we are stuck in, abandon false hope and macabre heroism and work towards a dignified exit from the (Kashmir) conflict,” he wrote in 2016.

“One possibility is to accept that in spite of all its infirmities, India is the only country in the world with which a culturally diverse and politically disparate entity like Jammu and Kashmir can find anchor.”

Faesal appeared to have angered authorities when he tweeted last year: “Patriarchy + Population + Illiteracy + Alcohol + Porn + Technology + Anarchy = Rapistan!”

Full report at:

https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/ias-officer-shah-faesal-1st-kashmiri-to-top-civil-services-quits-citing-intolerance/cid/1681338

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India’s role is essential in Afghanistan, Trump mocking it unfortunate: Russian Dy FM

by Syed Qayam Ali

Jan 09, 2019

New Delhi: Countering United States President Donald Trump’s recent remark on India’s efforts in Afghanistan, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov on Wednesday said that India’s role and its development work is essential in war-ravaged Afghanistan and it was unfortunate that President Trump was mocking it.

“It is very unfortunate that a very artificial competition is going on. We understand the essential role of India regarding Afghanistan. We all welcome India and Indian representatives beside we maintain the bilateral dialogue with Afghanistan,” Ryabkov said.

He further said that both India and Russia were highly concerned with the situation in Afghanistan and the two countries were very much in sync “on this very important issue.”

“We are committed to working on this issue and also wish that there would be less artificial competition”, the Russian Minister said when asked to comment on President Trump’s recent remarks in which he tried to undermine India’s developmental and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan by saying what India is doing is just five hours of the total work that the US is doing in that country.

“I could give you an example where I get along very well with India and Prime Minister Modi. But he is constantly telling me, he built a library in Afghanistan. Library!…You know what that is? That’s like five hours of what we spend (in Afghanistan), and we are supposed to say, ‘Oh, thank you for the library.’ I don’t know who is using it in Afghanistan,” the US President had said while stressing the need for other countries in the region to do more in Afghanistan.

President Trump said that India, Russia, and Pakistan should be intervening in Afghanistan and not the US which is “6,000 miles away.”

Russia has been making efforts to engage with the Taliban to bring peace in the country and restore normalcy. India too is involved in the process in different ways mainly through rebuilding and infrastructure development.

Responding to President Trump’s comments, Ryabkov said such remarks undermine the commonly recognized international law order even and expressed concerns over the increase in international conflicts.

“We have a situation where new actors engage in activities that were not known to humankind. Cybercrime is an indication to turn the world into a battlefield,” he opined.

Talking about the growing threat to outer space, the minister said: “We will see some country will have their presence in the outer space by targeting from such places.” He added that Russia is at the forefront of providing solutions to such a type of threat.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/indias-role-essential-afghanistan-trump-mocking-it-unfortunate-russian-dy-fm-1454531/

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National General Secretary of Jamiat-ul-Ulema warns Asaduddin Owaisi

by Sameer

Jan 09, 2019

Deoband: National General Secretary of Jamiat-ul-Ulema, Maulana Mahmood Madani warned MIM MP of Hyderabad, Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi to refrain from becoming the leaders of the Muslim community at the national level. He asked Mr. Owaisi to confine his activities upto Hyderabad, Telangana.

https://www.siasat.com/news/maulana-mahmood-madani-warns-asaduddin-owaisi-1454387/?utm

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Definite trend and desperation on Pakistan’s part to indigenise terrorism in Kashmir: Top Army officer

Jan 10, 2019

Pakistan’s export of terrorism is suffering with most terrorists being eliminated on the LoC itself while trying to infiltrate Indian territory.

Besides, the large number of Pakistani nationals killed in Kashmir has exposed Pakistan as an incubator of terrorism, the Army’s top officer in the Valley, Srinagar-based 15 Corps commander Lt Gen A K Bhatt tells Rajat Pandit in an interview. Excerpts How do you see the internal security situation in J&K after a violent 2018?

What are the challenges?

I would like put it differently, call it a very special year. Firstly, the Centre took the noble initiative of observing `Non-Initiation of Combat Operations’ during the holy month of Ramzan as a goodwill gesture for the ‘awaam (people)’. This was followed by focus on an extended duration Amarnath Yatra, which was conducted without any incident. Another major initiative was to hold elections for urban local bodies and panchayats in the entire state after 2011, a grass-root democratic process to empower people.

The security forces, in total synergy with intelligence agencies, were successful in killing over 250 terrorists in 2018, the highest in last 11 years. Also, this was achieved with minimum casualties among security forces. Our counter-infiltration grid at the LoC proved to be quite effective, with the counter-terrorist grid in the hinterland functioning like a well-oiled machinery.

What gives me great satisfaction is that our own losses in combat reduced considerably, with the soldier to terrorist attrition ratio being 1:8.

The overall security situation is steadily improving, barring some pockets in south Kashmir. Our objective is to bring conditions of peace and defeat Pakistan’s proxy war. Our challenges are three-fold: increased local recruitment, radicalisation and alienation. Our aim is to neutralise those who abet/instigate the youth, especially stone-pelters.

What is your assessment of the anti-India terror infrastructure in Pakistan/PoK?

Terrorism in Kashmir continues to be fully funded, organised and abetted by Pakistan. The terror infrastructure in Pakistan comprising Pak Army, ISI, special terror outfits, the so-called strategic assets like LeT, JeM, UJC and Al Badr, jihadi seminaries and madrassa networks, remains intact. The main terror-training camps are in the hinterland, which supply trained jihadis as per the Pak Army-ISI’s demand. There are always 300-350 terrorists stationed in launch pads, ready to infiltrate, which are de-facto

Pak army camps located close to its bases.

But there has been a perceptible increase in home-grown militancy and radicalisation of youth in the Valley?

I see a definite trend and desperation on Pakistan’s part to indigenise terrorism in Kashmir. The reasons are evident. First, only a miniscule number of infiltrators are succeeding despite daily attempts. Many are eliminated at the LoC itself, with Pakistan army also paying a heavy price. Second, scores of terrorists killed every year are Pakistani nationals, which reinforces the international community’s belief that Pakistan continues to be the world’s terror incubator. Given its exalted treatment to terror icons like Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar and the like, Pakistan’s claim of also being a victim of terrorism has no takers. Hence, Pakistan is using social media, its proxies like JRL, Jamaitees, Tehreek-e-Hurriyat and other Salafi-Wahabi organisations to fan radicalisation and promote a jihadi version of Islam.

Why not better crowd control measures to stop the sharp increase in civilian casualties?

The security forces’ SOP is to conduct operations with no loss of civilian lives and minimum damage to property. But during some operations in south Kashmir, instigators succeed in pushing gullible sections of civilians, especially youth, to encounter sites with a false belief that they would be able to assist the terrorists escape by indulging in heavy stone-pelting. We are devising ways to keep civilians away from encounter sites. With the cooperation of people, especially parents, elders and civil society, we hope to avoid civilian casualties. Loss of civilian life only benefits those whose sole agenda is to widen the alienation. So, my appeal to youth and parents is: never rush to encounter sites since your life is precious to your family and the society. Pakistan and its proxies want you to be cannon fodder. Don’t fall prey to their evil propaganda.

What about a phased withdrawal of AFSPA from some terror-free districts of J&K?

AFSPA is an enabling provision for the Army to undertake counter-terror operations. Today, there is no secure zone available to terrorists and our relentless operations force them to keep changing their locations. Revocation from certain areas has the danger of that area becoming safe havens for terrorists. Hence, any abrupt/selective revocation is not advisable.

I would like to reinforce the Army chief’s Dos and Don’ts are strictly followed. As a practice, all searches by us are carried out with police, even though AFSPA permits independent searches. Also, we detain a suspect only as an exception.

What about the situation along the LoC, with ceasefire violations (over 1,600) breaking all records since 2003?

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/definite-trend-and-desperation-on-pakistans-part-to-indigenise-terrorism-in-kashmir-top-army-officer/articleshow/67463567.cms

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Pakistan

 

Professional armies deter wars, guarantee peace, Gen Bajwa says

Jan 10, 2019

BAHAWALPUR: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday lauded the Pakistani armed forces as a well-equipped, well trained and professionally competent army that can deter war and guarantee peace.

He said this while visiting formations of Bahawalpur Corps during winter collective training, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

“Pakistan is a peace loving country, looks forward to peace within and peace without in line with the vision of father of the nation. A well-equipped, well trained and professionally competent army deters war and guarantees peace. Pakistan Army is one such battle hardened force,” he remarked.

The army chief witnessed manoeuvre of mechanised formation as part of defensive Corps’ operations against conventional threat. He expressed satisfaction on high standards of training and operational preparedness of the armed forces.

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/01/09/coas-reviews-operational-preparedness-of-bahawalpur-corps/

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Islamabad ‘pushing’ Taliban for direct contact with Kabul

ANUARY 10, 2019

There are indications that Pakistan is pushing the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Kabul government to resolve a long-standing conflict in Afghanistan, Arab News quoted head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council as saying on Wednesday.

“They [Pakistan] say that and there are signs that they are doing it,” Umar Daudzai, who holds additional charge as President Ashraf Ghani’s special adviser on reconciliation affairs, said when asked if Pakistan was playing its role to push the Taliban to establish contact with the Kabul government.

Remarks by Daudzai, who landed in Islamabad on Tuesday for wide-ranging talks, mark a break from long-time accusations that Islamabad was not doing enough to advance peace in the neighbouring country.

To a question, Daudzai denied that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will have a serious impact on the security situation. “I don’t think it has great impact because we have now fully developed the Afghan National Security Forces that is between 350, 000 to 400, 000 [troops],” he said. “If President Trump had made such announcement in 2012, it might have caused some worries but now we have well-trained Afghan National Security Forces. The only thing that is still needed to be developed is our air power,” he added.

When asked if his government was in touch with the Taliban, he said, “Indirectly. Informal, indirect yes.”

Daudzai was hopeful that the prospects for peace were stronger than ever before due to changes within the thinking of the Taliban, mostly due to international exposure and the impact of social media. “There are layers [within the Taliban] that are rethinking the whole situation,” he said. “Still there are people that are fanatics, who want to continue fighting but there is also a positive thinking between them … They are more exposed to the world outside by and through media. Social media has [had a] great impact on Taliban thinking.”

When asked if a meeting this week between US officials and the Taliban in Saudi Arabia would take place, Daudzai said, “Unless they [Taliban] agree to meet with the Afghan government face to face, that kind of meetings may be difficult to be continued.”

But the special envoy was hopeful of a breakthrough in talks this year, “We have declared that 2019 should be the year of peace in Afghanistan. Within 2019, InshAllah (god willing), we will reach to a final peace deal.”

Daudzai welcomed the ‘multiplicity’ of the peace effort but said all parties needed better coordination to create consensus at the national, regional and international levels. He denied that Kabul was being marginalized in the peace process and said all countries pursuing negotiations were briefing the government every step of the way. “They are coordinating with us and they are taking our permission,” he said, referring to meetings between the Taliban and representatives from the US, Russia and Iran. “All initiatives should be done in consultation, in conjunction, with the legitimate state of Afghanistan. So if we have that driving seat, then okay, that’s not a problem,” he said. “Somebody can sit in the front row and somebody can sit in the back row but they all are on the same bus with one driver. But if that leadership of the Afghan state is not recognized and is not given value, then we may face a serious challenge,” he added.

Daudzai’s comments coincide with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah saying the Taliban’s refusal to involve the government in peace talks means the end to a conflict that has lasted 17 years can only remain a dream. “In any peace deal in which the rights of our citizens, that have been gained with a lot of sacrifices, are not respected, the deal is a dream and will never happen,” Abdullah told a gathering in Kabul held to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the constitution.

Abdullah said the Taliban have not changed since their austere regime was toppled by US-led forces in 2001. “We haven’t seen any change in the Taliban so far and that country that supports them, has not unfortunately changed its policies toward us either,” said Abdullah, referring to Pakistan which Kabul accuses of harbouring Taliban leaders.

Daudzai, who will continue meetings in Pakistan on Thursday, is visiting Pakistan at a time when US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has embarked on a new round of visits to the regional countries as part of his peace mission. State Department said Khalilzad will lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan from January 8 to 21. “The US goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement where every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law,” a State Department’s statement said.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/342612/islamabad-pushing-taliban-for-direct-contact-with-kabul/

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Pakistan, Saudi Arabia may ink $10bn MoUs this month

Syed Irfan Raza

January 10, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are likely to sign memoranda of understanding for more than $10 billion Saudi investment in Pakistan this month. Pakistan will also sign similar MoUs with China, the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia over the next two months.

This was said in the second meeting on ease of doing business (EoDB) presided over by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday. The meeting was told that the MoU on investment framework with the UAE was expected next month.

Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Finance Minister Asad Umar said Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz would visit Pakistan next month and most of the MoUs were expected to be signed during his trip.

When contacted, Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Haroon Sharif said Saudi Arabia was interested in Pakistan’s four sectors — oil refinery, petrochemicals, renewable energy and mining. “We are expecting $10bn plus Saudi investment and the MoUs to be signed in this regard will not be common or vague but concrete agreements,” he added.

The $10bn investment will be in addition to the $6bn bailout package given by Riyadh to Islamabad during Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Saudi Arabia in October last year. “According to a survey, 65 per cent of the investments will take place in the country’s commercial hub Karachi and 35pc in Lahore. Therefore, better law and order situation and ease-of-doing-business opportunities were prerequisite for foreign investment,” the BoI chairman added.

He said the government had made it mandatory for all foreign firms to invest in joint ventures with Pakistani firms so that local companies could also get boost and deal with local issues in a better way.

He said Saudi firm Aramco would invest in an oil refinery and was likely to set up its own refinery in Pakistan. “Saudi Arabia is also interested in petrochemicals and will make investment in this sector as well,” he added.

Mr Sharif said there was a big room for renewable energy in Sindh, Balochistan and central Punjab and, therefore, Saudi firm Aqua Power, which controls renewable energy business in Tunisia, the UAE and Jordon, had a comprehensive plan on renewable energy projects in Pakistan.

He said he had recently visited China and signed MoUs on industrial cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC). “Now we have to build economic zones along the corridor.”

The BoI chief said the UAE was interested in agriculture, housing and other sectors. He added that four Malaysian firms were also due this month and would invest in four sectors — halal meat, gemstone, information technology and hi-tech education.

An official press release issued by the Prime Minister Office said: “Briefing the meeting about various positive developments with regards to investment facilitation, it was informed that an MoU on industrial cooperation has been signed with China last month. The MoU with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to be signed this month whereas investment framework MoU with the UAE is expected in February 2019.”

The meeting was attended by the finance minister, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, PM’s adviser Dr Ishrat Hussain and the BoI chairman.

The BoI chairman briefed the prime minister about the progress on various indicators related to ease of doing business.

The meeting was informed that the number of taxes had been brought down from 47 to 21. “We have clubbed together many taxes to facilitate the business community,” Mr Sharif added.

He said a new system of value added tax refund would be in place by March 31 which would significantly reduce time in obtaining the VAT refund, adding that efforts were also being made to improve the risk-management system to reduce the number of physical audits.

About the ease of starting business, the prime minister was informed that integration of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan with provincial portals and Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) had been completed in Punjab and efforts were being made to expedite launch of such portal in Sindh.

The meeting was informed that significant progress had been made to facilitate provision of electricity and timely information to the businesses. Besides availability of required documents on website, a full online application system is being rolled out and advance notifications are being ensured about change in tariff, etc.

In the area of getting credit, the meeting was informed that registrar would be appointed by the end of this month and rules under the Secured Transaction Act were being finalised by the Ministry of Finance.

The prime minister emphasised the need for greater focus on addressing issues relating to ease of doing business in Sindh since Karachi was financial hub of the country.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1456638/pakistan-saudi-arabia-may-ink-10bn-mous-this-month

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PTI withdraws ECP petition against Zardari, plans to pursue case in SC

Fahad Chaudhry

January 10, 2019

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) MPA Khurrum Sher Zaman on Thursday said that he plans on pursuing the concealment of assets case against Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the Supreme Court as he withdrew his petition filed in the Elec­tion Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

On December 21, Zaman, in his petition, had accused Zardari of owning an apartment in Belaire Condomi­niums located at 524 East 72nd Street, New York, but not declaring it in his nomination papers for the 2018 general elections. He had subsequently moved the ECP seeking Zardari's disqualification from the National Assembly.

Read: PTI minister shares property tax bills of NY flat allegedly owned by Zardari

The PTI lawmaker, during the hearing of his petition in the ECP today, asked for his petition to be retracted, claiming that "we have found evidence that we will present at the highest forum only".

Zaman, on the instruction of ECP member from Sindh Abdul Ghaffar Soomro, submitted a handwritten request, saying: "I want to take this case to the Supreme Court because I believe the evidences I have acquired [...] are pivotal and in the best interest of Pakistan."

He later held a media talk outside the ECP office in which he claimed to have found more evidence against Asif Zardari. "The evidence has been verified. Our preparation is complete," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1456658/pti-withdraws-ecp-petition-against-zardari-plans-to-pursue-case-in-sc

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Afghan delegation visits Wali Bagh as part of peace efforts

January 10, 2019

CHARSADDA: As part of the ongoing efforts to find a political settlement to the four decades long war in Afghanistan, a delegation of Afghan government called on Awami National Party president Asfandyar Wali Khan here on Wednesday.

Afghanistan’s High Peace Council Chairman Mohammad Omar Daudzai was heading the delegation that also included Afghan Ambassador Atif Mashal, said a statement issued from Wali Bagh.

The statement said that the delegation conveyed goodwill message of Afghan President Dr Ashraf Ghani to Mr Wali and appreciated the efforts of ANP for restoration of peace in the war-torn country.

ANP provincial general secretary Sardar Hussain Babak told Dawn that the visit of the delegation was part of the ongoing efforts to find a political solution to the conflict that had been affecting both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that ANP’s stance was clear as the party always supported political settlement of the conflict.

Mr Babak said that the delegation was likely to hold meetings with leaders of other political parties in Pakistan and government.

The Wali Bagh’s statement said that Asfandyar Wali Khan told the delegation that talks could not be successful without the inclusion of the Afghan government. “The so-called Islamic State (IS) may not be controlled in case of unilateral agreement with Taliban and it will indulge the region in another war,” the statement quoted Mr Khan as saying.

He said that Afghan government should lead the ongoing peace talks being held in different countries. He said that without the involvement of government in Kabul, the efforts for peace would remain meaningless.

He said that Russia and China should play the role of guarantors in the peace talks.

Full report at:

http://www.dawn.com/news/1456558/afghan-delegation-visits-wali-bagh-as-part-of-peace-efforts?preview

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Southeast Asia

 

If India provides concrete evidence against Zakir Naik, we won't compromise, says Malaysia's Anwar Ibrahim

January 10, 2019

Geeta Mohan

Even as India continues to seek extradition of Zakir Naik who is being probed in India for alleged charges of spreading terror and money laundering, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia said that the new government in Kuala Lumpur was prepared to "scrutinise" and cooperate with New Delhi on the case.

Anwar Ibrahim, who is in New Delhi for the Raisina Dialogue, spoke exclusively to India Today TV.

He said, "I believe we are prepared to scrutinise and study every aspect of the case. Our position against terrorism and terrorist cells is very clear. We strongly support every counter terrorism effort. Having said that, we will have to abide by known international decorum and ensure that once you have a compelling case, you will have to adduce some evidence. We cannot agree based on what is alleged."

After the victory of his coalition party, Pakatan Harapan, and his own win in the by-election after being released from prison, Anwar Ibrahim is all set to take over from the current Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, in two years.

Speaking on cooperation over the issue of Zakir Naik, he elaborated that there was yet to be a real contact between India and Malaysia on the matter while also explaining that any pictures of Zakir Naik with him or other leadership are "old" except for one instance of a photo with Prime Minister Mahathir after he took office.

"The arrangements and contracts were with the previous government. Since we came to power, there has been an understanding that Zakir Naik should be more subdued or controlled. This seems to be the practice. We have to observe this because India has officially notified us. Out of respect, we need to take cognizance of that," he said.

He added, "I was made to understand some documents were produced, but our concern is that we need to really be convinced that there is a legitimate premise for a case against any individual before we act. This is a normal arrangement with any country. There is certainly a willingness to look at the case. We are willing to look at the case if substantive arguments are placed before us."

Once he takes office, he said, he would "renew the commitments of PM Mahathir."

"First, a strong position against terrorism. But also not using terrorist laws against dissidents and political activists. I would certainly welcome engagement with Indian authorities. If they produce evidence to support their argument, I will not compromise," he added.

Ibrahim has been engaging with a host of scholars and political leaders. He met Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday and will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

"I met Rahul Gandhi and discussed numerous issues. Was quite impressed. I look forward to meeting the prime minister who has always been kind to me. There are some personal messages from PM Mahathir for the Indian prime minister on how to take relations forward", he said.

On the maritime front and the China factor that is one of the major aspects of India-Malaysia ties, he invoked ASEAN and said, "Our position is to get and curve an understanding in ASEAN to take a common stand. There are many countries in ASEAN that are affected by these claims. We have seen this with Philippines who said we were thinking of international effort but if they fail, we will have to continue with bilateral efforts."

Malaysia is a Muslim-dominated country. Expressing confidence in the Indian democracy regarding the situation of minorities in India he said, "Few years back, representation was made by minorities in Bangalore, as a champion of human rights and freedom, I do think it needed serious consideration, but this is, of course, a domestic issue. India has managed the country for decades and they will continue to do so with wisdom and tact."

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/exclusive-if-india-provides-concrete-evidence-against-zakir-naik-we-won-t-compromise-says-malaysia-s-anwar-ibrahim-1427576-2019-01-10

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Stop misleading customers by displaying Quranic verses, food premises without halal cert warned

January 9, 2019

KLANG: Food premises that do not have the Malaysian halal verification certificate (SPHM) have been told not to mislead or confuse consumers, especially Muslims.

The domestic trade and consumer affairs ministry today said it was an offence for premises owned by non-Muslims, which did not have the halal certificate, to display Quranic verses.

“Displaying the Quranic verses can confuse the Muslims who will assume that the premises had obtained the halal certification.

“We take this issue seriously because last year alone, we received 22 complaints on the halal status,” the chief enforcement officer of the ministry’s Selangor branch, Azman Adam, told reporters after checks on several food premises here today.

Officials from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department, Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) and the Klang Municipal Council also took part in the operation.

Azman said food premises were not obliged to obtain the halal certificate to operate, but it was an offence for those without it to promote their outlets as halal.

Yesterday, in Kota Bharu, non-Muslim traders were also advised against using Islamic elements as their business strategies to attract Muslim consumers.

Kelantan Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM) president Dr Fared Abdul Ghani said such a “strategy” was dishonest and would discourage Muslim consumers from patronising their premises.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/01/09/stop-misleading-customers-by-displaying-quranic-verses-food-premises-without-halal-cert-warned/

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China Approves Policy to Make Islam ‘More Chinese,’ Invites Inspectors to Labour Camps

9 Jan 2019

Beijing has approved a measure ordering Muslim communities within its borders to “uphold the sinicization of their religion” during the next five years, which refers to making Islam more Chinese by instilling Communist Party values, China’s state-run Global Times reported this week.

Global Times revealed:

China will soon release an outline on the sinicization of Islam, with Islamic communities urged to uphold the sinicization of their religion by improving their political stance and following the Party’s leadership. Representatives from local Islamic associations from eight provinces and regions, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Yunnan and Qinghai provinces, discussed a five-year (2018-22) outline on the sinicization of Islam at a seminar in Beijing on Saturday. They agreed that the outline is the basic policy for Islamic sinicization for the next five years, according to a statement published on the China Islamic Association’s website.

Global Times noted that China approved a draft of the mandate in December 2017.

Gao Zhanfu from the Beijing-based China Islamic Institute reportedly indicated that “the sinicization of Islam is not about changing the beliefs, habits, or ideology of Islam but to make them compatible with socialist society.”

Global Times’ report came as China invited the international community to visit Xinjiang province, believed to house hundreds of re-education camps that the U.S. and United Nations say are used to subject the region’s predominantly Muslim Uighur (or Uyghur) population, as well as Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, to communist indoctrination, systemic torture, disappearances, executions, and arbitrary detentions, among other crimes.

Arguing that the camps are vocational and educational centers aimed at combatting terrorism and religious extremism, China has repeatedly denied that Beijing is mistreating the detainees at the facilities, also known as mind transformation centers and concentration camps.

On Monday, China’s Foreign Ministry extended its invitation to visit the centers to “any party who abides by China’s laws and regulations and does not interfere with its internal affairs,” Global Times noted in a separate article, echoing other news outlets.

Shohrat Zakir, the chairman of the People’s Government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, reportedly revealed on Monday that diplomats from 12 countries — including Russia, Indonesia, India, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan — have already visited the mind transformation centers, at the behest of China.

“Xinjiang is an open area and we welcome all parties, including UN officials, to visit the region and respect Chinese laws,” Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the Ministry, told reporters.

“A group of foreign media, including Reuters and TASS, visited the centers January 3-5,” Global Times noted.

Muslim-majority Pakistan, one of China’s top allies, recently defended Beijing’s torture of Islam adherents.

Citing sources and recent activity in the region, the Epoch Times reported last week that Chinese officials are “drastically” intensifying efforts to conceal evidence of hundreds of tortuous “re-education centers” for Muslims in Xinjiang in advance of potential inspections.

Under Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, persecution against Christians, Muslims, and other religious groups in China has escalated.

In 2017, Xi stressed that “all religions must be ‘Chinese-oriented,’ as part of his effort to ‘Sinicize religion,’ or make it more Chinese, by instilling socialist core values,” Newsweek reported.

Full report at:

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/01/09/china-approves-policy-make-islam-more-chinese-invites-inspectors-labor-camps/

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North America

 

From Trinidad to Mosul: Why the Caribbean island's young set sail for ISIS territory

January 9, 2019

To many, it's incredible that Imam Yasin Abubakr has not been jailed, sent to the gallows, or quietly bumped off. A protege of Libya's late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, over the years the Islamist leader has been charged with everything from treason and murder through to overthrowing a government.

Yet the 77-year-old cleric is not some Middle East insurgent who's somehow stayed one step beyond the law. Instead, he preaches openly from a mosque on the Caribbean island of Trinidad – a place more known for reggae and rum than calls to prayer.

The laid-back paradise of the tourist brochures is not one Mr Abubakr recognises, however. A black Muslim convert, he embraced Islam back in the 1960s, convinced that centuries of Christianity had done little for Trinidad's African slave descendants.

In the 1970s, his self-styled religious sect, the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, forged links with Gaddafi's Libya, which was then courting radical movements worldwide. But far from simply reading the late dictator’s Little Green book, he took its revolutionary rhetoric literally – launching an armed coup in which his sect took Trinidad's cabinet hostage for six days.

That was back in 1990, since then he has mellowed somewhat. Today, the only man ever to stage an Islamist coup in the Western hemisphere warns his followers against the politics of the gun – especially if it tempts them to more radical groups like ISIS.

"The whole ISIS thing is nonsense," he told The National at his mosque in Trinidad's capital, Port-of-Spain. "Why should our young men fight in Iraq or Syria?"

Unfortunately, not every young Muslim on the island has listened to him. Last weekend, a US-backed militia in Syria captured a Trinidadian ISIS suspect named Zaid Abed Al Hamid, who allegedly joined the terror group in 2014.

He is by no means alone. In all, some 130 Trinidadians – mostly black converts – are thought to have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria. It gives the island of 1.3 million – of whom just five per cent are Muslim – one of the highest ISIS volunteer rates in the West.

Others include Shane Crawford, an ex-petty criminal who became an ISIS “poster boy” after being interviewed for its Dabiq propaganda website under his nom de guerre of Abu Sa’d Al Trinidadi. While Mr Crawford was killed by a drone strike in 2017, the fate of many of his comrades remains unknown, raising fears of “blow back” attacks should they return.

Mr Abubakr says that only one former Jamaat member has ever embraced ISIS – an elderly cleric later accused of becoming a prolific recruiter for the group. Other volunteers have been drawn from copycat black Muslim sects, which proliferated on Trinidad after the Jamaat first gained a following. Critics say some are sometimes simply fronts for ghetto mafias.

“Unscrupulous people claiming to be Muslims or to belong to our organisation are a problem for us,” admits the Imam.

Two such gangs, "The Muslims" and “Unruly ISIS”, are currently in a bloody turf war in Port-of-Spain with the rival "Rasta City" gang, a feud which has pushed Trinidad’s murder rate close to an all-time high.

Yet both gangsters and Islamic militants, Mr Abubakr argues, feed from the same fertile recruitment pool – Trinidad’s urban ghettos, where drugs and social breakdown are almost the norm, and where police often fear to tread.

"Young people leave school in those areas with no jobs and no opportunities,” he says. "It's those young Africans who are involved in these killings every day."

It was that same anger at the plight of Trinidad’s black underclass that first drove Mr Abubakr to convert to Islam back in 1969, when an Egyptian preacher visited Trinidad. "It was the first time I learned that there were black Africans who were Muslims, and that everyone was equal," he says.

At the time, pan-Africanist movements inspired by the likes of the Nation of Islam and Malcolm X were already spreading in black communities round the world. The Jamaat, though, also got funding from Gaddafi, whose emissaries Mr Abubakr met while studying in Canada. He spent several years in Libya, and still describes Gaddafi as "the best leader ever."

In Trinidad, Mr Abubakr soon won street-level followers in the slums, including tough ex-criminals keen to mend their ways. But while he and his "generals" gained respect for stamping out drug dealing, they fell foul of the authorities, who thought the Jamaat was straying into vigilante activity and becoming another street gang. Mr Abubakr says this was because many policemen were themselves involved in narcotics. He also began to fear for his life after a woman police constable who came to him with evidence of government collusion in drug dealing was killed in mysterious circumstances.

Fearing the government was planning to assassinate him next, he decided to strike first. In July 1990 he sent 40 followers, armed with weapons smuggled from the US, to storm the parliament. A further 70 seized the state TV building – Mr Abubakr announced the coup live on air and promised new elections in 30 days.

The group laid down their weapons six days later, and were charged with treason and murder. They were freed two years later after Trinidad's courts upheld the terms of an amnesty used to negotiate their surrender.

Since then, the Jamaat has focused on peaceful politics and community work – much to the disgust of ISIS followers like Crawford. In his Dabiq interview, he said the movement "attempted to overthrow the disbelieving government, but quickly surrendered, apostatised, and participated in the religion of democracy.”

Yet since the coup, Jamaat members have continued to have run-ins with the law, even though few have been convicted. In 2006, Mr Abubakr himself was acquitted of charges of conspiracy to murder two former members of his organisation. In 2007, ex-worshippers at his mosque were linked to a plot to blow up fuel depots at New York’s JFK International Airport.

According to one police source, the reason charges have seldom stuck against the Jamaat is proof that the group is still "too strong" to take on. It still has thousands of followers, and is said to have connections to politicians on the island who covet the influence the Jamaat enjoys in the ghettos. According to Mr Abubakr, the failure to ever make charges stick is because they are always fabricated.

Still, he and his "generals" retain a certain street-cred, offering "alternative dispute resolution" in neighbourhoods where the police command little respect. After prayers every Friday, supplicants call at Mr Abubakr’s office, seeking help not just with spiritual matters but with problems like debt recollection and the recovery of stolen goods. The week before The National's visit, he had mediated in a gang feud.

"Generally, the gangs respect us," he said. "They don't step out of line with us because they know they will get stamped on, although we advise people to use the courts where possible."

Indeed, many of the Jamaat's remedies for the ghettos' ills are far from radical. While they accept that poverty is part of the problem, they also blame lack of self-discipline and violent rap music.

"Because of the poverty, people fall under bad influences," says Mr Abubakr's son Fuad, who has started his own political party. "A lot of lost young men gravitate to us for help, but we get the blame if they can't hack the discipline here and carry on committing crimes."

On which note, Mr Abubakr insists that were he to take charge of the country – as he tried briefly to do in 1990 – his own robust justice would clean the ghettos up straightaway.

There is, however, no likelihood of him staging another coup. "If we get too involved in things these days, the state will come down on us like a ton of bricks," he added. "So what do we have instead? Two or three murders daily."

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/from-trinidad-to-mosul-why-the-caribbean-island-s-young-set-sail-for-isis-territory-1.811303

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Pompeo: Erdogan threats against Kurds will not stop Syria withdrawal

10 January 2019

The US troop withdrawal from Syria will not be scuppered despite Turkish threats against Washington’s Kurdish allies there, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, promising to ensure that the Kurds would still be protected.

Pompeo met leaders in Iraq’s capital and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Wednesday, aiming to reassure them about Washington’s plans following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement last month of an abrupt withdrawal from Syria.

The unannounced visits to Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Erbil came on the second day of a Middle East tour also taking in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

Pompeo has the task of explaining US policy in the region after Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria, which rattled allies and came as a shock to top US officials. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit over it.

The US forces have been working with a Kurdish militia to fight against ISIS extremist group. The Kurds control a swath of northeastern Syria, Washington’s foothold in a conflict that has drawn in Russia, Iran, Turkey and other regional powers.

Washington has repeatedly said its Kurdish allies will remain safe despite the withdrawal. But Turkey, which considers the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia an enemy, has repeatedly vowed to crush the group and repudiated any suggestion of protecting it once US troops leave.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday for suggesting that protecting the Kurds would be a pre-condition of the US withdrawal, a suggestion Erdogan called “a serious mistake”.

Asked in Erbil if Erdogan’s pushback on the protection of the Kurds puts the withdrawal at risk, Pompeo told reporters: “No. We’re having conversations with them even as we speak about how we will effectuate this in a way that protects our forces.”

Pompeo added: “It’s important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that.”

Smooth over relations

The withdrawal of US forces in Syria strengthens the hand both of Turkey and of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad, which is backed by Russia and Iran. Pompeo has stressed throughout his trip to the region that Washington still aims to counter Iranian influence.

In Iraq, Pompeo also sought to smooth over relations after political leaders were angered when Trump visited US troops on the day after Christmas at a remote desert air base without stopping in Baghdad or meeting any Iraqi officials.

Many politicians from the ruling coalition of mainly Shi’ite parties called Trump’s visit a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and demanded the United States withdraw troops.

In Baghdad, Pompeo met Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim, Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi and President Barham Salih.

President Salih, answering a reporter’s question on whether he wants the United States to keep troops, said Iraq “will need the support of the US” and expressed his “gratitude to the US for support over the years”.

“ISIS is defeated militarily but the mission is not accomplished,” Salih said.

The United States withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 eight years after an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, but sent thousands back after ISIS fighters swept into the north of the country in 2014. It now has around 5,200 there, and Trump has not announced plans to pull them out.

ISIS militants are still waging insurgent attacks in the north of the country and trying to make a comeback, although they were driven from all towns and cities last year.

Asked on Tuesday about what would be discussed during a possible meeting with Pompeo, Abdul Mahdi said deepening Iraq’s relationship with the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/01/10/Pompeo-Erdogan-threats-against-Kurds-will-not-stop-Syria-withdrawal.html

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Iran dismisses as 'lies' reports about US citizen's well-being in detention

Jan 9, 2019

Iran has dismissed as "lies" US media reports suggesting that an American citizen it recently arrested is being held in suboptimal conditions.

"An American citizen named Michael White was arrested in the city of Mashhad a while ago and the US Interests Section in Tehran was informed in the first days" since his arrest, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters Wednesday.

The New York Times reported Monday that White, a US Navy veteran, had been arrested in Iran on "unspecified charges."

In another report on Tuesday, CBS News claimed the 46-year-old had been in detention since last summer and "was suffering psychologically and was being held in a ward with dangerous criminals."

Qassemi said, "We strongly reject such untrue and false reports."

The US State Department confirmed that it had been informed of White's arrest but refused to provide more details.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/09/585348/Iran-Qassemi-Michael-White-detention-Mashhad

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US Muslim group sues Maryland for anti-BDS bill

09.01.2019

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON

A Muslim rights group filed a lawsuit against the state of Maryland Wednesday to block a measure seeking to stop state agencies from doing business with companies, entities, or individuals who boycott Israel.

Software engineer Saqib Ali was seeking to obtain a contract with Maryland to develop a tool to compare life insurance policies.

In order to obtain the contract, he would have to sign a pledge saying he would not boycott Israel or any territories occupied by Israel, effectively denying his ability to participate in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

"I refused to sign such a pledge," Ali said at a news conference. "Palestinians are not free, they live under a brutal military occupation, and until that occupation has ended, I decided that I would boycott Israel. It is my First Amendment right. It is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution."

Ali, a former Maryland state legislator, worked with the Council of American Relations (CAIR) to file the lawsuit.

The BDS movement was formed in 2005 by 170 Palestinian civil society and rights groups to pressure Israel to ending the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

It demands a boycott of Israeli companies involved in violating Palestinian human rights, and for other institutions to divest their interests in those companies.

BDS has recently been met by resistance in the U.S. with many states passing anti-BDS laws to criminalize anti-Israel sentiment.

The anti-BDS legislation was first enacted by U.S. President Donald Trump through an executive order in October 2017. Now 26 states have established similar measures.

According to CAIR, this is the sixth lawsuit targeting the measure.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-muslim-group-sues-maryland-for-anti-bds-bill/1360504

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South Asia

 

30 Taliban, ISIS-K militants killed in separate operations of Afghan and coalition forces

09 Jan 2019

At least thirty Taliban and ISIS Khurasan (ISIS-K) militants were killed during the separate operations of the Afghan and coalition forces conducted over the course of past 24 hours.

According to the informed military sources, a coalition air strike killed 2 ISIS-K fighters in Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province.

Similarly, a coalition air strike killed 3 Taliban fighters in Darah-e-Pech district of eastern Kunar province.

The sources further added that Afghan Special Operations Forces conducted a raid in Musa Qal’ah district of souther Helmand province, killing 11 Taliban fighters and destroying 2 IEDs.

The coalition forces also conducted airstrikes in Tarinkot district of Uruzgan province, killing 14 Taliban fighters, the sources added.

The anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban and ISIS-K militants have not commented regarding the killings of their fighters so far.

https://www.khaama.com/30-taliban-isis-k-militants-killed-in-separate-operations-of-afghan-and-coalition-forces-03082/

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Taliban commander Mullah Basir and his 20 fighters killed in Balkh airstrike

10 Jan 2019

A commander of the Taliban group Mullah Abdul Basir and his twenty fighters have been killed in an airstrike in northern Balkh province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North in a statement said the airstrike was carried out by coalition forces late on afternoon evening.

The statement further added that the gathering was targeted in Nawshar Baloch area of Chemtal district, leaving Mawlavi Abdul Basir alias Badar dead with his two fighters.

According to 209th Shaheen Corps, an armored vehicle of the militants was also destroyed along with several motorcycles in the airstrike. 

Another militant was killed during a clash with the security forces in Darwaza Khwaja area of the province, the 209th Shaheen Corps added in its statement.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-commander-mullah-basir-and-his-20-fighters-killed-in-balkh-airstrike-03086/

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Reporters Without Borders reacts to the killing of a journalist by Taliban

09 Jan 2019

The Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) has condemned the murder of a journalist by the Taliban militants in Western Farah province of Afghanistan.

The local journalist, Javid Noori was reportedly singled out by the Taliban militants after several people were abducted on a highway in Farah province on 5th of January and was later shot dead.

Noori, who worked for the Farah regional government as well as hosting two programmes on Radio Neshat, was travelling on a bus with around 30 other passengers when it was stopped and searched at a Taliban roadblock, RSF said in a news release.

The Taliban shot him after finishing their search, RSF said.

“He was killed after being checked and then moved to one side,” RSF said quoted a witness as saying. The Taliban later issued a formal statement announcing “the execution of an enemy officer during a control.”

Aged 27, Noori began hosting a Radio Neshat programme called “Psychology of the Green Life” in 2016, after completing his psychology studies at the University of Kabul. For the past year, he had also been hosting the “Friday evening” programme on social issues.

“This summary execution is the first death of a journalist in 2019 to be registered on RSF’s barometer,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Afghanistan-Iran desk. “There is an urgent need to end such practices. We reiterate our appeal to the international community to condition the start of any talks with the Taliban on their giving an explicit undertaking to respect international humanitarian law’s basic treaties, starting with the Geneva Conventions.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/reporters-without-borders-reacts-to-the-killing-of-a-journalist-by-taliban-03085/

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Key Taliban leader surrenders to Afghan forces in Jawzjan province

09 Jan 2019

A key local leader of the Taliban group has surrendered to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in northern Jawzjan province of Afghanistan.

The 209th Shaheen Corps of the Afghan Military in the North said Wednesday that the Taliban leader Qudratullah surrendered to the Afghan forces in Qush Tepa district on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a statement released by 209th Shaheen Corps, Qudratullah is originally a resident Mughal Village of Darzab district and is one of the key leaders of the Taliban group in this province.

The statement further added that Qudratullah surrendered himself to the Afghan forces in Qush Tepa district at around 12:30 pm local time on Tuesday.

He has also handed over a motorycle and an Ak-47 assault rifle to the security forces, the statement by 209th Shaheen Corps added.

Jawzjan was among the relatively calm provinces in North of Afghanistan but the security situation in some of its districts has deteriorated during the recent years.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/key-taliban-leader-surrenders-to-afghan-forces-in-jawzjan-province-03083/

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Afghan officials: Taliban attacks kill 21 policemen

January 10, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan: Officials say a wave of Taliban attacks in western and northern Afghanistan the previous day has killed 21 members of the country’s security forces.

Jamshed Shahabi, spokesman for the governor in western Badghis province, says the insurgents overran outposts there, killing six policemen.

Council member Shamsul Haq Baeakzai in northern Baghlan province says seven members of the local police force were killed there, also on Wednesday.

And in northern Takhar province, council member Ruhollah Raufi says eight policemen were gunned down.

The attacks left another 23 members of the security forces wounded. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for all the attacks.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1433381/world

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Rohingya Hindu refugees in Bangladesh want to return to Myanmar: US daily

January 10, 2019

Rohingya Hindus who sought refuge in Bangladesh want to return to Myanmar but were not being allowed by Bangladesh officials, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a report from the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, the newspaper said on Wednesday that 105 Hindu families were ready to leave when a deal was made by the UN last May for refugees to return home to Rakhine state in Myanmar.

But they are stranded in Bangladesh because their return home was canceled when the UN decided it was not safe for refugees to go back to Myanmar, Hindu refugees were quoted as telling the newspaper.

The 400 Hindu refugees in Bangladesh are segregated and housed in a separate facility called Hindu Camp, which is under round-the-clock securit.

Hindu and Muslim refugees in Bangladesh live in a state mutual animosity.

The Los Angeles Times said that Hindu families have appealed to the Indian government for help, but have so far received only humanitarian aid.

"India is a land for all Hindus. Mr. (Narendra) Modi (Prime Minister) is a Hindu. Why is he not helping us?" the newspaper quoted Shishu Sheel, a 32-year-old leader in the refugee camp for Hindus, as saying.

The Hindus were victims of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Muslim organisation led by the Pakistan-born Ataullah abu Ammar Jununi, and fled to Bangladesh as it was the only escape available to them, the newspaper said.

Unlike the more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees, the Hindus have Myanmar citizenship, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said that the Bangladesh's Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission has ruled out repatriating only the Hindus, and not the Muslims, whose return the UN has determined was unsafe.

"We treat all refugees the same way and will not be prioritising repatriation of the Hindu refugees over Rohingya Muslims," Shamimul Huq Pavel, the commission official who oversees a separate camp for Hindu, told the Los Angeles Times.

The exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh began in August 2017 when the ARSA attacked security posts in Myanmar and the security forces and vigilantes retaliated killing hundreds of Muslims and destroying their villages.

The UN has condemned the security forces' response to the ARSA attacks as disproportionate and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it "ethnic cleansing".

However, the Hindus were attacked by ARSA unlike the Muslim refugees who were victims of security forces and Myanmarese vigilantes, the newspaper said.

Amnesty International, that verified the the ARSA attacks, said in a report last May that 99 Hindu children, women and men had been killed.

The rights organisation said that in one incident in August 2017, 53 Hindus from Ah Nauk Kha Maung Seik village were rounded up and killed execution-style by the ARSA and later the remains of 45 victims were found in mass graves.

In neighbouring Ye Bauk Kyar village, 46 Hindus disappeared and the community believe that they were killed by ARSA, Amnesty said.

Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International, said: "It's hard to ignore the sheer brutality of ARSA's actions, which have left an indelible impression on the survivors we've spoken to. Accountability for these atrocities is every bit as crucial as it is for the crimes against humanity carried out by Myanmar's security forces in Rakhine."

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/rohingya-hindu-refugees-in-bangladesh-want-to-return-to-myanmar-us-daily-1427605-2019-01-10

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Europe

 

British ‘yellow vest’ leader wanted to ‘ban Islam from the west’

Seth Jacobson

January 10, 2019

James Goddard, one of the most prominent ‘yellow vest’ protesters who have been intimidating MPs and journalists outside the Houses of Parliament, previously said that he wanted to “ban Islam from the west”.

The Guardian uncovered a video uploaded in September 2018 in which Mr Goddard debates with the imam of a mosque in north London, Jaffer Ladak, about Islam.

Mr Goddard said that mosques in the UK, which number around 2,000, “shouldn’t be there” and he would support “getting rid of them”.

When challenged about how Muslims could be forced to leave the UK and the mosques removed, Mr Goddard said: “I wouldn’t blow them up. If I ever got into power I’d give you all £5,000 to £10,000 and ask you to leave. I don’t believe that Islam should be in the west, no. This is a Christian country.”

Mr Goddard also called Islam “a threat to every man, woman and child in this country”.

“I just don’t think that Islam is compatible with the west. I just don’t think that people who believe in child marriage and terrorism should be in the United Kingdom, or Europe for that matter. That book poses a threat, and as long as that book exists there will never be peace in the west.”

Another video on YouTube shows Mr Goddard addressing a rally in central London during the summer of 2018 in support of the far-right activist ‘Tommy Robinson’ (aka Stephen Yaxley-Lennon).

“The establishment in there [Parliament] are absolutely terrified of what we have,” Mr Goddard says.

“Why do they tell us we can be angry about Grenfell but not about Manchester, not about London Bridge, not about Westminster Bridge? Because it doesn’t fit their narrative! The elite that run this country, especially those satanic paedophiles in there, are going to bring us to our knees. Are we going to let that happen? We need you on our side to bring these people down!”

On Tuesday, Facebook and PayPal shutdown Mr Goddard’s accounts on their sites, however it appeared on Wednesday that he was now attempting to raise funds through the website Donorbox:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/british-yellow-vest-leader-wanted-to-ban-islam-from-the-west-1.811411

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Alleged ISIS member to face trial over Brussel’s terrorist attack that killed four

Jamie Prentis

January 9, 2019

A man accused of being the first foreign fighter to return from Syria and carry out an attack on European soil is due to stand trial today over the murder of four people at the Jewish Museum of Belgium.

It took only 82 seconds for Mehdi Nemmouche to shoot dead the victims in Brussels on May 24, 2014 in an attack that set a disturbing precedent across the continent.

The Frenchman, of Algerian origin, was captured by the security services in Marseilles six days after the assault, still carrying weapons.

Among his possessions was a recording of a man sounding like Nemmouche declaring support for ISIS and pre-emptively claiming the anti-Semitic museum attack.

During his time in Syria from 2013 to 2014, Nemmouche, 33, is said to have spent time acting as a jailer of French journalists who were held captive near Aleppo but released in April 2014. Some of these former hostages are expected to be among at least 100 people to give evidence.

When one of the reporters, Nicolas Henin, was released he said he recognised Nemmouche’s voice and believed the French-Algerian helped torture Syrians held in the same detention centre. Many of those imprisoned alongside Henin, such as the American journalist James Foley, would later be beheaded by British ISIS member Mohammed Emwazi.

Nemmouche, who will face life in jail if convicted, is to stand trial alongside Frenchman Nacer Bendrer, 30, who is accused of supplying the weapons used in the Brussels attack. Bendrer spoke in a Brussels court on Monday only to confirm his name, age and current status as unemployed in a short session before jury selection.

While in Syria Nemmouche was said by investigators to have met Najim Laachraoui, one of those involved in bombings in Brussels that killed 32 people in 2016. This cell is also accused of being behind attacks such as in Paris in November 2015 in which 130 people died.

Nemmouche’s journey from a difficult upbringing, to petty criminality then jail and radicalisation is typical of many of those who fight and die for ISIS – whether in Syria, Iraq, Europe or elsewhere.

The ease with which he made it to Syria despite authorities being aware of his extreme views while jailed is part of a common pattern.

Between December 2007 and December 2012, Nemmouche spent five years in jail after a childhood punctuated by criminality. Here, investigators said, he proselytised and associated with those holding extreme views.

He had a troubled upbringing riddled with crimes such as theft. He never met his father and was born in the town of Roubaix in northern France to a mother who was judged unfit to raise him. As such, from only a few months old until 16 he spent time with a foster family in Lille but also his grandparents and in care homes. His foster family described him as angry and “capable of the worst as well as the most kind” actions, AFP reported.

Three months in a young offenders’ prison after an ­attempted mugging with an air pistol at the age of 16 precluded years of similar criminality that would lead to his five-year stint in jail beginning in 2007. Less than a month after he was released he was bound for Syria.

According to a report by the defence and security think tank Globsec, 97 per cent of those involved in the 22 successful terrorist attacks in France since 2012 had been identified as radicals or were known to the police.

Almost half had previous convictions and 19 per cent were repeat offenders, including Nemmouche.

Another with a long history of criminal activity was Cherif Chekatt, who killed five people at a Strasbourg Christmas market in December last year before being shot dead two days later.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/alleged-isis-member-to-face-trial-over-brussel-s-terrorist-attack-that-killed-four-1.811339

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Russia begins patrols outside flashpoint city in northern Syria

January 9, 2019

Russian military police on Monday started patrolling the outskirts of the flashpoint city of Manbij after Turkish officials called on the US to accelerate the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the region.

Zvezda, a TV network run by the Russian Ministry of Defence, said that military police are organizing patrols along a five-kilometre zone in the eastern countryside of Aleppo province, near Manbij.

It said that Russian military police are patrolling a buffer zone separating government forces in Manbij from “militants” stationed outside the city.

It was not immediately clear which militants Zvezda was referring to, but Turkish-backed rebel forces are stationed in parts of eastern Aleppo, near Manbij.

The route will be changed every day for “safety reasons,” Zvezda said.

Yusup Mamatov, a spokesperson for Russian military police, also confirmed the deployment.

"Today we started patrolling the security zone near the city of Manbij and its surroundings. The task is to ensure safety within the zone of responsibility, to control the positions and movement of armed groups," he was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.

Russian servicemen will also follow-up on reports from local residents regarding weapons caches and unexploded ordnances found in the city, Mr Mamatov said, according to TASS.

Kurdish fighters, fearing a Turkish military assault, invited regime forces to Manbij late last month after US President Donald Trump's shock announcement of a full American withdrawal from Syria.

Mr Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to attack the city which he believes is a stronghold for the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – A Kurdish armed group that forms the backbone of a US-backed alliance fighting ISIS in Syria.

In a bid to avoid any clashes, Ankara and Washington agreed to a "roadmap" for Manbij in June which included YPG forces withdrawing from the city and joint US-Turkish patrols.

However, Ankara maintains that YPG forces are still present in the city – a claim that the YPG itself has denied.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar briefed Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a meeting in Ankara on Tuesday on the need for US forces to accelerate a YPG exit from Manbij, the Turkish Defence Ministry said in a statement.

“[Mr] Akar has stressed the importance of speeding up the implementation of the Manbij road map and of immediate withdrawal of the YPG terrorists from the region,” the statement read.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/russia-begins-patrols-outside-flashpoint-city-in-northern-syria-1.811249

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Arab World

 

Top Syrian official visits Saudi Arabia as Syria-Arab ties warm up after long deep freeze: Report

Jan 9, 2019

Syria’s National Security chief Major General Ali Mamlouk has reportedly paid a visit to Saudi Arabia, amid promising signs that the incumbent Damascus government led by President Bashar al-Assad is being admitted back into the Arab world after nearly eight years of foreign-sponsored militancy.

Mamlouk, one of Assad’s most senior advisers, visited the oil-rich conservative kingdom a few days ago and explored avenues for the rapprochement of diplomatic relations between Damascus and Riyadh, Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Joumhouria reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed diplomatic sources, added that the visit took place late last month, shortly after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain opened their embassies in the Syrian capital.

The sources highlighted that Saudi Arabia is preparing itself for the strategic change, and that the kingdom’s volte-face is either because it has come to terms with realities on the ground or it aims to distance the Syrian government from Iran.

On December 28, 2018, Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that work at the kingdom’s embassy “in the Syrian Arab Republic is going on whilst the Embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Kingdom of Bahrain is carrying out its duties and flights connecting the two countries are operational without interruption.”

The statement also affirmed “the Kingdom’s keenness on the continuity of its relations with the Syrian Arab Republic and stresses the significance of enhancing and activating the Arab role in order to maintain Syria's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and avert the hazards of regional interference in its internal affairs and progress.”

It came a day after the UAE officially reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The Emirati Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the reopening of its embassy “reaffirms the keenness of the United Arab Emirates to restore relations between the two friendly countries to their normal course.”

The move “will strengthen and activate the Arab role in supporting the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic and to prevent the dangers of regional interference in Syrian Arab affairs,” the ministry pointed out.

On December 16, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir became the first Arab League leader to visit Damascus.

Syria's official news agency SANA said Bashir was greeted by his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad upon arrival at Damascus International Airport, before they both headed to the presidential palace.

The two leaders discussed bilateral ties and the "situations and crises faced by many Arab countries," the Syrian presidency said in a statement.

SANA quoted the Sudanese leader as saying during the meeting that he hoped Syria will recover its important role in the region as soon as possible.

He also affirmed Khartoum’s readiness to provide all it can to support Syria's territorial integrity.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/09/585309/Syria-Saudi-Arabia-Arab-

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Saudi, UAE, Egypt working with Israel to counter Iran, Turkey influence in Syria: Report

Jan 9, 2019

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt are working on a plan with Israel to marginalize Iranian and Turkish influence in the region through restoring ties with Syria and making key changes to their overall policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new report has revealed.

Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel's Mossad spying agency, was among a number of Israeli officials who attended a secret meeting with representatives of the three Arab countries in a Persian Gulf capital last month to discuss the new initiative, Middle East Eye reported Tuesday.

The plot includes accepting Damascus back into the Arab League, accelerating US troop withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, defending Syrian Kurds against Turkish attacks and rolling back Ankara's political standing in Iraq, the report added.

Iran's military advisors in Syria have helped the government of President Bashar al-Assad purge foreign-backed militants from most parts of the country. Israel has used Iranian advisors' presence near its borders as an excuse to attack Syrian military bases over the past months.

Riyadh is worried that continuation of the Syrian conflict would ultimately help Tehran's clout grow even bigger.

The shared antipathy towards Iran has led Saudi and its regional allies - the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and others - to develop clandestine ties with Israel over the past years.

Turkey, on the other hand, has launched its own military incursion into northern Syria with a declared goal of eliminating Kurdish militias that it claims are associated with separatist elements that clash with Turkish security forces.

Ankara's role in the Syrian conflict is expected to expand when US forces leave Syria following President Donald Trump's decision last month to leave the country.

This is not what Saudi Arabia and Israel had in mind when they openly backed terrorist groups in Syria at the beginning of the deadly Syrian conflict. Back then, Riyadh and the Tel Aviv regime supported the militants, calling them "rebels" who fought Assad.

Today, however, after Assad's many victories against the terrorists, those excuses seem even more out of place.

To tackle these issues, officials present at the four-way secret meeting agreed to implement four measures.

Afghanistan

As a first step, they decided to help Trump deliver on his promise to reduce US troop levels in Afghanistan while working with the Taliban. A week after the meeting, American officials sat down for talks with Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi.

Iran, in coordination with the Afghan government, has been holding its own peace talks with the Taliban in order to bring calm back to Afghanistan after 17 years of US occupation.

Iraq

The second measure agreed in the meeting was aimed at controlling "the Sunni card” in Iraq by minimizing Turkey's influence among the Alliance of the National Axis, the largest parliamentary bloc of Sunni Iraqi deputies.

To achieve this, the report said, Saudi officials gave Mohammed al-Halbousi, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, two choices during his first official visit to the kingdom in December: "to either reduce the influence of Turkey on the Alliance of the National Axis or pull out of it entirely."

The officials also agreed to strengthen relations with Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and prevent any reconciliation with Ankara.

Syria

The third measure was launching a diplomatic initiative to restore full diplomatic relations between the three Arab states and the Assad government in order to push Iran out of the picture.

“They did not expect Bashar to break relations with Iran, but they wanted Bashar to use the Iranians rather than be used by them,” a Persian Gulf official said.

“The message was: ‘Return back to how your father treated the Iranians, at least as an equal at the table, rather than subservient to Iranian interests.’”

That's why the UAE and Bahrain decided to re-open diplomatic missions in Syria while Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir became the first president to meet with Assad in Damascus in years.

Analysts say none of these would have happened without a nod from Riyadh.

The fourth measure aimed at supporting Syrian Kurds against Turkish attempts to expel the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) from Syrian towns that bordering Turkey.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/09/585345/Israel-Yossi-Cohen-Saudi-Arabia-UAE-Egypt-plan-against-Iran-Turkey

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Kurds capture 8 extremists including US teenager

January 09, 2019

BEIRUT: A Syrian Kurdish militia says its fighters have captured eight foreign fighters with the Daesh group in eastern Syria, including an American teenager.

The force known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, says the militants were captured in a special operation in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where Daesh extremists are still holding on to pockets of territory.

Among the eight are an American, a German, a Russian, a national from the Ukraine as well as Tajik and Uzbek nationals.

In a statement, the YPG identified the 16-year-old American teenager as Soulay Noah Su. No other details were immediately provided.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1433046/middle-east

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US Army Sends 4,000 More Troops to Iraq's Kirkuk Province

Jan 09, 2019

"A sum of 4,000 fresh US troops and officers at different levels of military ranking and expertise together with heavy military vehicles and advanced weaponry as well as fighter jets arrived in K1 military base in Kirkuk province," the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh quoted former commander of Iraq's Badr Organization Mehdi al-Bayati as saying.

Al-Bayati said that the K1 military base resembles Ain al-Assad military base of al-Anbar province in terms of the massive presence of the US troops and suspicious movements taking place there.

He noted the US troops have arrived in Kirkuk province via Erbil, and said, "The US forces have also set up several military patrols in the surrounding areas of Kirkuk, including al-Hawija and al-Riyadh regions."

Al-Bayati said that the reason for the US military buildup in Kirkuk is still unknown, adding that concerns are growing among the public and politicians about the American troops' presence in the region, while many suspect that the US aims to re-establish the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s control over Kirkuk.

In a relevant development on Sunday, Iraqi sources reported that Washington has deployed large groups of soldiers in Western Iraq.

The sources were quoted by Russia's RT news channel as saying that dozens of US troops stationed in Syria have been relocated to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province in Western Iraq.

"Reports that the US forces who have left Syria are now stationed in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan region are not all true. A major part of these forces have gone to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province and a number of others have been deployed in the military bases in other Iraqi provinces," they added.

According to the sources, the US forces are still stationed at the Iraqi-Syrian borders and have not left Syria completely.

An informed source said on Saturday that a large number of state-of-the-art US-made weapons had been dispatched to Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Anbar province.

"A number of US military planes, carrying weapons and military equipment, arrived at Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Baghdadi region in the town of Hit in Western al-Ramadi. No reason has yet been cited for these flights to the airbase and the details about the weapons which are said to be advanced," the source was quoted as saying by Iraq's al-Wa'e news agency.

He added that a few days ago, a large number of US military vehicles had also arrived at Ein al-Assad, noting that the American forces take assistance from the security companies for transferring military equipment to their positions in Iraq and the military men are sent to different places on planes.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971019000805

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Iraqi MP: Israeli Intelligence Forces Among US Troops in Iraq

Jan 09, 2019

"Israel's intelligence forces have been witnessed patrolling with the US troops in Baghdad," the Arabic-language al-Maloumeh news website quoted member of the Iraqi Parliament's National Security and Defense Committee Karim Alivi Javish as saying.

Alivi Javish reiterated that the Iraqi Parliament's National and Defense Committee will probe the US troops' presence in the Iraqi capital.

A report said last Friday that the US troops patrolled together with Baghdad Operations Commander patrolled in the Iraqi capital.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Iraqi sources reported that Washington has deployed large groups of soldiers in Western Iraq a number of its military forces who were earlier stationed in Syria.

The sources were quoted by Russia's RT news channel as saying that dozens of US troops stationed in Syria have relocated to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province in Western Iraq.

"Reports that the US forces who have left Syria are now stationed in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan region are not all true. A major part of these forces have gone to Ein al-Assad base in al-Anbar province and a number of others have been deployed in the military bases in other Iraqi provinces," they added.

According to the sources, the US forces are still stationed at the Iraqi-Syrian borders and have not left Syria completely.

An informed source said on Saturday that a large number of state-of-the-art US-made weapons had been dispatched to Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Anbar province.

"A number of US military planes, carrying weapons and military equipment, arrived at Ein al-Assad airbase in al-Baghdadi region in the town of Hit in Western al-Ramadi. No reason has yet been cited for these flights to the airbase and the details about the weapons which are said to be advanced," the source was quoted as saying by Iraq's al-Wa'e news agency.

He added that a few days ago, a large number of US military vehicles had also arrived at Ein al-Assad, noting that the American forces take assistance from the security companies for transferring military equipment to their positions in Iraq and the military men are sent to different places on planes.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971019000394

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Syrian Army Foils Terrorists' Attacks in Hama, Idlib, Inflicts Heavy Losses on Militants

Jan 09, 2019

The Syrian Army's missile and artillery units pounded the terrorists' movements from Wadi al-Dorat in Eastern al-Latamanieh in Northern Hama towards the Syrian Army's military point in the region, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists, while forcing others to retreat.

The Syrian army's artillery units also targeted and pounded a terrorist group who intended to penetrate into the army's military positions from the town of Mourek, killing and wounding a number of them as well as destroying their weapons and military equipment.

In Southeastern Idlib, the army's artillery units also targeted and pounded Tahrir al-Sham's movements from al-Khowin and al-Zarzour regions towards the army's military positions before they could penetrate into their positions.

Meantime, Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at terrorists has captured 50 towns and villages in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo during clashes with other terrorist groups in the last eight days.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army foiled further attacks from the demilitarized zone by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at and their allied terrorist groups in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The Syrian Army's artillery units prevented members of a terrorist group who were trying to penetrate into the army positions in Northern Hama from the surrounding areas of Ma'arkabeh town, killing and injuring several terrorists and forcing many others to flee the scene.

Meantime, the Syrian Army's artillery units pounded the terrorists' movements in the outskirts of Wadi al-Dorat and Al-Zuka in Northern Hama.

Other Syrian troops also targeted Jeish al-Izzah terrorists' movements from al-Latamanieh town towards military points in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on them.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army's artillery units pounded Tahrir al-Sham positions and movements in Tal Khatareh, Tal Kolbeh and Al-Zarzour, killing a number of them and destroying several positions of the terrorists.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army foiled an attempt by terrorists who were trying to penetrate into government forces' military positions in Northern Hama.

The terrorist groups stationed in Northern Syria continued their provocative moves against the Syrian army, forcing into failure an agreement reached by Russia and Turkey on the establishment of a demilitarized zone.

The Syrian Army units stationed in the surrounding area of Shaliot village, North of Mahradeh, prevented the terrorists of Jeish al-Izzah from infiltrating into government forces' positions from al-Zukah village.

The Jeish al-Izzah terrorists sustained heavy losses in the army attacks on their positions. The Syrian Army also destroyed the terrorists' military equipment and hardware forcing the remaining terrorists to retreat.

The Syrian Army's artillery units also targeted the military positions and movements of the militants in the surroundings of al-Latamanieh, al-Zukah, Lahaya, Mourek, al-Sokhr, al-Janabereh and Kafar Zita in Northern Hama, destroying several military positions of the terrorists.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army units also targeted the terrorists in Sakik, Tavil al-Halib and Katibeh al-Mahjoureh region, inflicting heavy losses among them.

Meantime, the Syrian army dispatched massive military convoys to Northern Syria to confront the terrorist groups who have intensified their attacks on government forces' military positions from the demilitarized zone.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Damascus Army in response to the continued terrorists' attacks from the demilitarized zone in Northern Syria pounded the militants' movements in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib provinces, inflicting heavy losses on them.

The Syrian Army with heavy artillery attacks pounded the military positions and movements of the terrorists in the small town of al-Baneh in Northern Hama, destroying several posts as well as killing and wounding a number of terrorists before they could attack the government forces' positions in the area.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971019000330

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Saudi ambassador to US: We continue to support Yemen until it is rid of militias

9 January 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Prince Khalid bin Salman has said that the Arab coalition will continue working to support Yemen until the country is rid of militias.

The ambassador tweeted on Wednesday a video which purportedly shows an aid warehouse which was allegedly burned by the Houthi militias.

“Aid is unfortunately often destroyed or blocked by the Iran-backed Houthis, who would rather use starvation tactics than prevent famine in Yemen. Despite their behavior, the Coalition will continue working with intl aid orgs & provide resources to alleviate the humanitarian crisis,” Prince Khalid tweeted.

The ambassador went on to say that the coalition “has welcomed the Stockholm agreement and abided by it while the Iran-backed Houthi militia continues to violate it”.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/01/09/Saudi-ambassador-to-US-We-continue-to-support-Yemen-until-it-is-rid-of-militias.html

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Saudi state security operation in Qatif ends with killing of 6 wanted suspects

9 January 2019

Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of State Security announced on Wednesday that they carried out a preemptive operation that killed six wanted persons and the arrest of one in the eastern city of Qatif after learning that there were arrangements by extremists to carry our an imminent attack.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the official spokesman for the Presidency of State Security said that as a result of a follow-up of its competent bodies monitoring extremist activities in Qatif, indicators proved the existence of arrangements to carry out an imminent criminal act in the al-Jish village which aimed at harming state security and the disruption of development projects in the province.

On the basis of this information, competent authorities of the state security began on Monday a preemptive security operation under which the aforementioned house were the suspects were hiding in was besieged.

Seven of the wanted men were inside and were directed to surrender. However, they did not respond and opened fire on security forces, which required dealing with the situation in order to neutralize their danger and preserve the lives of others who passed by and live in the vicinity of the site.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/01/09/Saudi-state-security-operation-in-Qatif-ends-with-killing-of-6-wanted-suspects.html

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Mideast

 

‘EU Harbours Terrorists, Blacklists Terror-Fighting Iran’

Jan 9, 2019

The Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned a decision by the European Union to place two Iranian individuals and a department of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry on its “terror” list over what it calls links to “foiled attacks” in Europe.

In a press release on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi called the EU’s decision to blacklist the two Iranians and the Directorate for Internal Security at the Iranian Intelligence Ministry “irrational” and “odd” and said the move showed the European countries’ “dishonesty” in fighting terror.

“Instead of blacklisting such terrorist and criminal groups as the Monafeqin (MKO) and al-Ahwaziya, the European Union has allowed them freedom to carry out their inhuman and terrorist activities and even provides them protection, while it levels accusations against Iran, which is the flag-bearer in the fight against terror in the region and to which Europe owes its security,” Qassemi said.

He said Iran will take reciprocal measures in response, without elaborating.

Earlier in the day, an EU press release said sanctions, which include the freezing of funds and other financial assets, will be effective against those targeted as of Wednesday.

“These listings have been adopted by the Council as part of its response to recent foiled attacks on the European soil,” it added.

This is the first time the EU has imposed sanctions on Iran since lifting an array of embargoes following Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The US and Israel were quick to welcome the anti-Iran move.

“The US strongly supports the new sanctions and stands with our European allies as we counter this common threat,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry also said in a tweet, “This is an important first step by the EU, combating Iranian aggression. The newly imposed sanctions offer some hope that a growing number of countries are willing to take an active, clear stand against Iran’s global campaign of terrorism.”

The European Union’s decision was first announced by Denmark on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, the Netherlands' government accused Tehran of hatching plots and involvement in two killings in 2015 and 2017, sending a letter, signed by the foreign and interior ministers, to the Dutch parliament to warn of further economic embargoes if Tehran did not cooperate with European probes.

The provocative move follows last year’s statements by Denmark and France that they suspected a so-called Iranian government intelligence unit pursued killing plots on their territories.

Copenhagen at the time sought an EU-wide response.

Tehran has strongly denied any involvement in the purported plots, saying the accusations were merely intended to damage EU-Iran relations amid efforts to save the 2015 deal following Washington's withdrawal.

Iran also stresses that it is a victim of terrorism, particularly inflicted by the anti-Iran terror outfit Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), whose members live freely in EU countries.

The EU’s latest move prompted a strong reaction from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said on Twitter that the sanctions would “not absolve Europe of responsibility for harboring terrorists.”

The MKO has carried out numerous attacks against Iranian civilians and government officials over the past three decades and is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community.

Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the victory of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to MKO’s acts of terror.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/09/585294/Iran-EU-terror-charges-sanctions-Intelligence-Ministry

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Khamenei: US sanctions putting pressure on Iran and Iranians

9 January 2019

US sanctions are putting pressure on Iran and its people, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, according to his official website.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of an international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

“The sanctions do put pressure on the country and the people. The Americans happily say that these sanctions are unprecedented in history,” Khamenei said. “Yes, they're unprecedented. And the defeat that the Americans will face will be unprecedented, God willing.”

‘Some US officials are first-class idiots’

On Wednesday, Khamenei dubbed some US officials “first-class idiots” as he ridiculed them for predicting the collapse of the Islamic Republic.

“Some US officials pretend that they are mad. Of course, I don't agree with that, but they are first-class idiots,” he said in speech in Tehran, quoted on his official Twitter feed.

Khamenei was having a dig at US officials who had predicted there would be regime change in Iran by the end of 2018.

“A while ago, a US politician had said, among a gathering of terrorists and thugs, that he hopes to celebrate this Christmas in Tehran,” Khamenei said, according to his Twitter feed.

“Christmas was a few days ago. This is how US calculations work.”

It was not clear to which US official he was referring, but members of President Donald Trump’s administration have called for regime change and predicted it would happen soon.

This has included National Security Advisor John Bolton -- a long-time regime change advocate -- who often speaks at gatherings of the exiled People's Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) opposition group, considered a terrorist cult by Tehran's leaders.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/01/09/US-sanctions-are-putting-pressure-on-Iran-and-Iranians.html

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Five soldiers killed in Houthi drone attack targeting Yemeni army parade

10 January 2019

In the latest developments in Yemen, pro-Iranian Houthi militias - in their continuous attempts to abort the Sweden peace agreement brokered by the United Nations – launched on Thursday, an attack targeting a military parade by the Yemeni National Army.

The Houthis used a drone to attack the parade taking place in al-Anad military base in Lahaj province. Al Arabiya news channel correspondent reported that five soldiers of the Yemeni Army were killed by the attack.

The governor of Lahaj and the head of army intelligence unit were also injured in the attack.

On the other hand, as many as 15 members of the coup militias were killed on Wednesday during a failed attempt to fire a ballistic missile in al-Tayyar district in Saada governorate north of Yemen, targeting Saudi Arabia.

Al Arabiya sources said the Houthis, among them missiles’ experts, were trying to launch the ballistic missiles targeting the kingdom when it exploded.

The Arab coalition backing the legitimate Yemeni army released a video documenting the Houthis’ violations, especially in regards to violations related to their use of populated areas and civilians for military purposes.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/01/10/Several-killed-in-a-Houthi-drone-attack-targeting-Yemeni-army-parade.html

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Bid to launch ballistic missile at Saudi Arabia backfires, kills 15 Houthis

9 January 2019

Around 15 Houthis were killed in Saada after ballistic missile, meant to target Saudi Arabia, blew up before launch, according to local sources in the Yemeni city. The sources added that missile experts were also among those killed.

The coalition forces in support of legitimacy in Yemen had previously released a video documenting some of the violations of the Houthi militias backed by Iran, specifically in relation to the use of residential and civilian areas for military purposes.

The video shows aerial footage of a weapons warehouse in the Razih district of Saada province. Gunmen also appear loading a truck, clearly in the middle of a residential area crammed with houses.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/01/09/Bid-to-launch-ballistic-missile-at-Saudi-Arabia-goes-wrong-kills-15-Houthis.html

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Several Saudi-backed militants killed in Yemen’s retaliatory drone raid

Jan 10, 2019

Yemeni armed forces, led by the Houthi Ansarullah movement, have launched a retaliatory drone attack against a gathering of Saudi-backed militants loyal to the ex-regime in the country’s southern province of Lahej, killing several of them.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/01/10/585381/Yemen-drone-Houthis-Lahej

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Erdogan threats against Kurds will not stop Syria withdrawal, Pompeo says

January 10, 2019

BAGHDAD/CAIRO: The US troop withdrawal from Syria will not be scuppered despite Turkish threats against Washington’s Kurdish allies there, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday, promising to ensure that the Kurds would still be protected.

Pompeo met leaders in Iraq’s capital and its semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on Wednesday, aiming to reassure them about Washington’s plans following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement last month of an abrupt withdrawal from Syria.

The unannounced visits to Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Irbil came on the second day of a Middle East tour also taking in Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

Pompeo has the task of explaining US policy in the region after Trump’s announcement of the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops from Syria, which rattled allies and came as a shock to top US officials. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis quit over it.

The US forces have been working with a Kurdish militia to fight against Daesh. The Kurds control a swath of northeastern Syria, Washington’s foothold in a conflict that has drawn in Russia, Iran, Turkey and other regional powers.

Washington has repeatedly said its Kurdish allies will remain safe despite the withdrawal. But Turkey, which considers the US-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia an enemy, has repeatedly vowed to crush the group and repudiated any suggestion of protecting it once US troops leave.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan denounced visiting US National Security Adviser John Bolton on Tuesday for suggesting that protecting the Kurds would be a pre-condition of the US withdrawal, a suggestion Erdogan called “a serious mistake.”

Asked in Irbil if Erdogan’s pushback on the protection of the Kurds puts the withdrawal at risk, Pompeo told reporters: “No. We’re having conversations with them even as we speak about how we will effectuate this in a way that protects our forces...

“It’s important that we do everything we can to make sure that those folks that fought with us are protected and Erdogan has made commitments, he understands that,” Pompeo added.

Smooth over relations

The withdrawal of US forces in Syria strengthens the hand both of Turkey and of the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad, which is backed by Russia and Iran. Pompeo has stressed throughout his trip to the region that Washington still aims to counter Iranian influence.

In Iraq, Pompeo also sought to smooth over relations after political leaders were angered when Trump visited US troops on the day after Christmas at a remote desert air base without stopping in Baghdad or meeting any Iraqi officials.

Many politicians from the ruling coalition of mainly Shiite parties called Trump’s visit a violation of Iraqi sovereignty and demanded the United States withdraw troops.

In Baghdad, Pompeo met Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hakim, Speaker of Parliament Mohammed Al-Halbousi and President Barham Salih.

President Salih, answering a reporter’s question on whether he wants the United States to keep troops, said Iraq “will need the support of the US” and expressed his “gratitude to the US for support over the years.”

“Daesh is defeated militarily but the mission is not accomplished,” Salih said, using an acronym for Daesh.

The United States withdrew its troops from Iraq in 2011 eight years after an invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, but sent thousands back after Daesh fighters swept into the north of the country in 2014. It now has around 5,200 there, and Trump has not announced plans to pull them out.

Daesh militants are still waging insurgent attacks in the north of the country and trying to make a comeback, although they were driven from all towns and cities last year.

Asked on Tuesday about what would be discussed during a possible meeting with Pompeo, Abdul Mahdi said deepening Iraq’s relationship with the US-led coalition fighting Daesh.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1433331/middle-east

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Muslim group sues to block ‘No Boycott of Israel’ measure

January 10, 2019

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland: Maryland’s ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel tramples on the First Amendment rights of a software engineer who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim civil rights group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017.

The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don’t boycott Israel. The group’s suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting Palestine.

CAIR says 25 other states have enacted measures similar to Maryland’s, through legislation or executive orders. CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.

CAIR sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. Ali’s lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that “contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.”

“Speech and advocacy related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is core political speech on a matter of public concern entitled to the highest levels of constitutional protection,” the suit says.

Raquel Coombs, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said the attorney general hadn’t seen the suit and doesn’t comment on pending litigation. A spokeswoman for Hogan’s office said, “We are confident that our executive order is completely consistent with the First Amendment and will be upheld in court.”

Ali, a resident of Gaithersburg, served as a member of the Maryland House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011 and represented Montgomery County as a Democrat. He accused Hogan, a Republican, of making an “end around” the Legislature by signing the executive order after lawmakers repeatedly rejected several “anti-BDS” bills targeting the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

“This is unacceptable, and Larry Hogan should know that our rights will not be stricken by him,” Ali said at a news conference in Baltimore.

The executive order says a boycott based on religion, national origin or ethnicity is discriminatory. A business boycott of Israel and its territories “is not a commercial decision made for business or economic reasons,” it says.

“Contracting with business entities that discriminate make the State a passive participant in private-sector commercial discrimination,” the order says.

In December, the Arkansas Times weekly newspaper sued to block a similar measure. That state law, which took effect in August 2017, requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don’t sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office argued that boycotting Israel is not activity protected by the First Amendment.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1433321/middle-east

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Africa

 

Three killed as police use tear gas against protesters in Sudan

10 January 2019

Sudanese police used tear gas to disperse “illegal” protests against the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir in the city of Omdurman in which three people were killed, state news agency SUNA said on Thursday.

Sudan’s second-largest city “witnessed riots and illegal gatherings” on Wednesday, SUNA said, amid weeks of demonstrations. SUNA quoted police as saying that they knew of three deaths and several people being wounded and that these attacks were being investigated.

No other details were immediately available. Police chased demonstrators into side roads, from where they regrouped to resume their protests, witnesses said. Hundreds also blocked a main road.

Bashir vowed at a rally of thousands of supporters in the capital Khartoum on Wednesday that he would stay in power. His speech failed to quell the unrest, with security forces fighting running battles on Wednesday with protesters in Omdurman on the other side of the Nile to the capital.

Protesters have been staging demonstrations almost daily for weeks, enraged by shortages of bread and foreign currency. The unrest has come as the ruling party has pressed ahead with plans to change the constitution so Bashir can stay in office beyond his present term, which ends in 2020.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/01/10/Two-protesters-dead-eight-injured-in-Sudanese-protests.html

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Bashir backers stage Sudan rally as rival demo planned

9 January 2019

Crowds gathered Wednesday in Sudan’s capital in a show of support for the embattled regime of President Omar al-Bashir following several weeks of deadly anti-government protests.

The rally by hundreds of backers of Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup, came as rival protesters prepared to stage their own demonstration in Khartoum.

Hundreds of riot policemen, soldiers and security agents, some carrying machine guns, were deployed around the site of the pro-Bashir rally in the Green Yard, a large open ground in the city, an AFP correspondent reported. Men, women and children carrying banners supporting Bashir arrived in buses, he said.

Since December angry protesters have taken to the streets after a government decision to triple the price of bread at a time when the country has been hit by an acute shortage of foreign currency and inflation of 70 percent.

Protests that initially broke out in towns and villages before spreading to Khartoum quickly turned into anti-government rallies, with analysts describing them as the biggest threat yet to Bashir’s regime.

Authorities say at least 19 people including two security personnel have been killed during the demonstrations, but rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37. Bashir has blamed the violence on conspirators without naming them.

First protest

“Those who conspired against us and planted traitors amongst us are those who carried out arson attacks and caused damage,” the official SUNA news agency quoted Bashir telling soldiers at a military base on Tuesday near the town of Atbara where the first protest broke out on December 19.

In the initial protests several buildings of Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) were torched. “Some people are saying that the army is taking power,” Bashir said, slamming some political groups who previously were with the government but have now called for his resignation.

“I have no problem with that, because the army always guards the security of our homeland,” he said without offering further details. More than 800 protesters have been arrested since the unrest began, officials say, insisting that the situation has now stabilized.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/01/09/Bashir-backers-stage-Sudan-rally-as-rival-demo-planned-1843.html

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Nigerian lawyer mediates peace talks with Boko Haram

09.01.2019

Aisha Wakil, a Nigerian lawyer known to many as Mama Boko Haram, hopes to end the Boko Haram attacks.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Wakil described her efforts to mediate between Boko Haram and the Nigerian government, saying: "I am trying to convince them to be disarmed and be back to their homes.

"I know this is a risky job, but we need to do this for our kids and our country," she said.

Born to an ethnic Christian Igbo family, Wakil converted to Islam when she was enrolled in law school at Maiduguri University in Nigeria’s Borno region in 1989.

Wakil, who has been working to save youth from Boko Haram since 2009, said, "None of the attacks or any of the activities carried out by Boko Haram are not related to religion as they claim."

She said: I sometimes try to convince some of the members coming to my house and those who called them to be disarmed. Due to these efforts, I have ensured the release of some of the people held hostage by Boko Haram."

Wakil is interested in working with children in need, and claims to know many of the young people joining the group over the years.

"When I first came here in 1989, most of the people who joined Boko Haram were kids and I had a very close relationship with them. They used to call me ‘mama' which means 'mother'. They were in my house every weekend, I used to feed and help them," she added.

'Sincerity in negotiations'

Wakil said she met with Muhammad Yusuf, the founder and first leader of Boko Haram.

"When Boko Haram was first founded, I didn't give much attention. I saw it as a random group. I didn't expect it will grow this militant," she said.

Wakil underlined that she still maintains contact with some members of Boko Haram, and claimed things will change if the government shows sincerity in the negotiations.

She recalled that there were mediation efforts led by former president Goodluck Jonathan.

"At that time, members of the Boko Haram wanted immunity and pardon for themselves and their members. If the government had fulfilled the demands, these people were ready to be disarmed and come back home."

Boko Haram has allegedly split into two factions being led by Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Wakil calls on the government to make peace with both groups in order to end the terrorist attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/nigerian-lawyer-mediates-peace-talks-with-boko-haram/1360322

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US military kills 6 Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia

January 10, 2019

The US military on Wednesday said its special forces conducted an airstrike against Al-Shabaab terrorists in Somalia on Tuesday, killing six militants.

The US Africa Command (Africom) said the airstrike, which was conducted in cooperation with Somali government, targeted an Al-Shabaab encampment in the vicinity of Yaaq Braawe, Bay region, Xinhua reported.

"The Al-Shabaab encampment served as a staging area for terrorists in the region. We currently assess this airstrike killed six militants and destroyed one vehicle," Africom said in a statement.

The US Army, which has increased airstrikes in the Horn of Africa nation in the recent past, said no civilians were injured or killed in the latest airstrike.

Full report at:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/us-military-kills-6-al-shabaab-militants-in-somalia-119011000072_1.html

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More than 30,000 flee Boko Haram violence in NE Nigeria: UN

Jan 10, 2019

Tens of thousands of people have fled their homes in northeast Nigeria after an increase in violence in the Boko Haram conflict, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

"More than 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) have arrived in Maiduguri, mainly from Baga, in recent weeks," said the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon.

Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad, has been repeatedly hit in the nine-year conflict, which has killed more than 27,000, left 1.8 million people homeless and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Fighters from the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram overran two military bases in and around the fishing town on late December.

Kallon said fighting on December 26 triggered a "massive displacement" of civilians, with men, women and children flocking to already overcrowded camps in Monguno and Maiduguri.

Monguno is a garrison town 65 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of Baga while the Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, is 200 kilometres away on the same road.

Both are considered key prizes for the jihadists, who have increased their attacks on military bases and soldiers since July last year.

A second attack on Monguno on December 28 forced IDPs to Maiduguri. Some 20,000 arrived at one camp, Teachers Village, stretching its capacity beyond the limit.

Kallon said it was unclear how many remained in Monguno but "tens of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, notably shelter, food, water and sanitation.

"The impact of the recent fighting on innocent civilians is devastating and has created a humanitarian tragedy," he added.

Local and international aid agencies have been providing life-saving assistance to IDPs for several years in the remote region, which has been devastated by the fighting.

But since November, some 260 aid workers have had to withdraw from three local government areas in northern Borno near Lake Chad where ISWAP are known to operate.

Kallon said "hundreds of thousands of people" had been affected and the withdrawal was the largest since the international response was increased in 2016.

- Election issue -

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari said in December 2015 that Boko Haram was "technically defeated" after a sustained counter-insurgency by Nigerian and regional troops.

Tens of thousands of IDPs who had previously fled to Maiduguri have in the last year been encouraged to leave after the authorities maintained it was safe to return home.

On Wednesday Buhari acknowledged setbacks, including "battle fatigue" among soldiers from a persistent wave of guerrilla style hit-and-run tactics and suicide bombings.

Buhari was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the conflict and security has again become a major election issue as he seeks a second term of office at polls next month.

Troops on the ground have increasingly complained about conditions, including a lack of relief and support, as well as equipment to fight the better-armed militants.

But the army has repeatedly -- and often angrily -- played down reports of heavy military casualties and that the insurgents are once again resurgent.

Media organisations have been threatened with legal action for publishing non-official information.

On December 14, the military said it had suspended the UN children's fund UNICEF from operating in the northeast because it was training "spies" supporting Boko Haram.

The ban was later withdrawn. But senior commanders later threatened Amnesty International with closure, accusing it of fabricating reports about human rights abuses in the conflict.

On Sunday, soldiers raided the offices of Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper in Maiduguri, Abuja and Lagos after a front-page report that troops were preparing to retake Baga.

Two reporters were detained and later released after an outcry from press freedom and human rights watchdogs.

Information minister Lai Mohammed on Tuesday said the government was "not about to gag the press", after comparisons were made to media harassment during decades of military rule.

Full report at:

https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001308949/more-than-30-000-flee-boko-haram-violence-in-ne-nigeria

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