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Islamic World News (08 Aug 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



US Lawmakers Urge Pak to Refrain From Any Retaliatory Aggression against India

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Lawmakers Urge Pak to Refrain From Any Retaliatory Aggression against India

Hardly Any Information Coming Out Of Occupied Kashmir Is Of Great Concern: UN Human Rights Spokesperson

Contacts Being Made At Various Levels with India, Pakistan on Kashmir: UN Secretary General Spokesperson

Has Jud Chief Hafiz Saeed Being Released From Custody?

Prepared To Go To Any Extent to Fulfil Obligations to Kashmiri People: ISPR

After Govt’s Kashmir Move, Pakistan Downgrades Diplomatic Ties, Suspends Trade With India

US Closely Following Legislation on Territorial Status Of J&K: Official

Violence in Afghanistan Worsens as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On

Sudan Factions Vow To Implement Transition Deal: US Official

Abbas Tells US Lawmakers He Won’t Accept American ‘Dictates’

Saudi Arabia Extends Top Dissident Cleric’s Prison Sentence For 4 More Years

 

Europe

US Lawmakers Urge Pak to Refrain From Any Retaliatory Aggression against India

Hardly Any Information Coming Out Of Occupied Kashmir Is Of Great Concern: UN Human Rights Spokesperson

Contacts Being Made At Various Levels with India, Pakistan on Kashmir: UN Secretary General Spokesperson

Germany’s Muslims call for an Islamophobia commissioner

France denies report that Macron invited Rouhani to G7 summit

Turkey says drill ships continue work in eastern Med, another en route

Turkey says meeting with US on Syria ‘positive’

Jordan's King Abdullah and Boris Johnson hold talks amid Iran tensions

US, UK warn against escalating sectarianism in Lebanon

Iraqi refugees removing tethers to avoid deportation: Lawyer

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Pakistan

Has Jud Chief Hafiz Saeed Being Released From Custody?

Prepared To Go To Any Extent to Fulfil Obligations to Kashmiri People: ISPR

Pakistan: Catholic charity decries forced conversions to Islam

Pakistan closed its airspace for India following Kashmir crisis

Pakistan expels Indian Ambassador from Islamabad, recalls own form New Delhi

Malaysia strongly responds over deteriorating condition in Occupied Kashmir

Pakistan strongly rejects Indian statement over Occupied Kashmir

Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai reacts over Occupied Kashmir crisis

Pakistan have the option of approaching ICJ on Kashmir issue: Fawad

One dead, 13 hurt as Hazaras’ businesses targeted in Quetta

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India

After Govt’s Kashmir Move, Pakistan Downgrades Diplomatic Ties, Suspends Trade With India

US Closely Following Legislation On Territorial Status Of J&K: Official

J&K to Retain Special Status Regarding Central Funds

Thousands of labourers flee to Jammu from Kashmir valley

Afghan panel will decide final deal with Taliban: Tahir Qadiry

Mehbooba in solitary, says daughter; officials deny it

Ayodhya case: Battery of top lawyers line up for Ram Lalla

SC to examine afresh proof since 1949 in Ayodhya case

Govt may ease security measures in Valley for Friday prayers and Eid

India assures Bangladesh repatriation of displaced Myanmar citizens

Amarinder Singh hopes Pakistan’s decision won’t affect Kartarpur corridor

After NSA’s interaction with Kashmiris, Ghulam Nabi Azad says ‘money can buy anyone’

Under arrest, Mehbooba Mufti sends message to PDP MPs: quit Rajya Sabha

Kerala man fighting for IS in Afghanistan killed, second in a fortnight

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South Asia

Violence in Afghanistan Worsens as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On

Taliban Claim Bomb Attack on Police In Afghanistan; Nearly 100 Wounded

Taliban suicide blast in Kabul killed 14 people, wounded 145

Afghan Special Forces kill, detain 9 Taliban militants, destroy IED making factory

13 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Balkh and Jawzjan operations

Taliban car bomb attack completely wipes out mosque in West of Kabul city

ISIS recruitment is growing in Afghanistan, even as the US and Taliban work for peace

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Africa

Sudan Factions Vow To Implement Transition Deal: US Official

Tunisian defense minister Zbidi submits bid to run for president

Tunisia’s moderate Ennahda VP to run in early presidential elections

Double suicide attack kills 3 in northeast Nigeria: Officials

Tunisia Islamist-inspired party announces presidential candidate

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Mideast

Abbas Tells US Lawmakers He Won’t Accept American ‘Dictates’

Yemen slams Saudi Arabia for politicizing Hajj pilgrimage

A modern 'Trojan Horse' to stop Iran's ship seizures in the Strait of Hormuz

Iran Boosts Aide To HAMAS To $360 Million - Reports

ISIS car bomb kills 5 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Terrorists kill 2 IRGC servicemen in NW Iran near Turkey border

Yemeni missile strike kills dozens of Saudi mercenaries in kingdom’s Najran

Scores of Houthi militants killed in Al-Dhale

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Arab World

Saudi Arabia Extends Top Dissident Cleric’s Prison Sentence For 4 More Years

Saudi Arabia Stands In Solidarity with Egypt and U.S amid Terror Violence

US Military Units Intensify Movements from Iraqi Kurdistan to Hasaka after Turkey's Threats

UN official says over 100,000 detained and missing in Syria

Egypt president urges nation to back push against militants

Five killed in attack by Daesh in northeast Syria

Saudi crown prince, Pompeo discuss maritime security, Iran

Saudi US embassy hits back at ‘false accusations’ undermining Kingdom's counter terror efforts

Car bomb kills 5 in northeast Syria

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Southeast Asia

World Uyghur Congress Attends U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Jakarta Turns To Religious Leaders to Fight Air Pollution

Non-Muslim Excos Meet Selangor Sultan Amid Unilateral Conversion Row In State

Malaysia's new King warns against disunity

Indonesian Muslims under fire for communist books purge

Najib behind sexual misconduct claims against me, says ex-minister

Banned author rips into anti-khat lobby for opposing Jawi

In Selangor, Pakatan downplays fallout over controversial conversion Bill

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North America

ISIS Is Using Internet Propaganda to Maintain a 'Virtual Caliphate,' UN Report Says

Shooting Attacks Renew Debate over Domestic Terrorism in US  

US, Pakistan remove restrictions on each other’s diplomats

Pompeo talks maritime security, Iran with Saudi crown prince

Pompeo talks maritime security, Iran with Saudi Crown Prince

US, Turkey agree to form joint operation center for Syria safe zone

US-led coalition to boost size of Syrian partner forces

US and Turkey agree to establish joint centre to work on Syria safe zone

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/us-lawmakers-urge-pak-to-refrain-from-any-retaliatory-aggression-against-india/d/119424

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US Lawmakers Urge Pak to Refrain From Any Retaliatory Aggression against India

Aug 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: Two powerful Democratic lawmakers have urged Pakistan to refrain from any "retaliatory aggression" against India and take "demonstrable action" against terrorist groups within its territory.

Pakistan on Wednesday expelled Indian high commissioner Ajay Bisaria and downgraded diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Senator Robert Menendez and Congressman Eliot Engel in a joint statement on Wednesday also expressed concern over the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.

Menendez is a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, while Engel is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Pakistan must refrain from any retaliatory aggression, including support for infiltrations across the Line of Control, and take demonstrable action against the terrorist infrastructure on Pakistan's soil,” they said in the statement.

Expressing concern over detention and restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, the lawmakers said that "as the world's largest democracy, India has an opportunity to demonstrate for all its citizens the importance of protecting and promoting equal rights, including freedom of assembly, access to information, and equal protection under the law."

"Transparency and political participation are the cornerstones of representative democracies, and we hope the Indian government will abide by these principles in Jammu and Kashmir," they said.

The Parliament on Tuesday approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

India has maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and the issue is strictly internal to the country.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/us-lawmakers-urge-pak-to-refrain-from-any-retaliatory-aggression-against-india/articleshow/70580820.cms

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Hardly Any Information Coming Out Of Occupied Kashmir Is Of Great Concern: UN Human Rights Spokesperson

August 08, 2019

The United Nations Human Rights spokesperson has expressed "great concern" over the information blackout in occupied Kashmir which continued after its special status was scrapped by India earlier in the week.

In a statement shared on Wednesday via a video on Twitter, the spokesperson said that what had already been observed to be a pattern, was taken to a "new level" with the latest restrictions placed by India which he said "will exacerbate the human rights situation in the region".

"I would refer you back to our July 8, 2019 report on the human rights situation in Kashmir which documented how authorities have repeatedly blocked communications networks to muzzle dissent, used arbitrary detention to punish political dissidents and employed excessive force while dealing with protests leading to extra judicial killings and serious injuries," said the statement.

"We are seeing again blanket telecommunications restrictions, perhaps more blanket than we have seen before, the reported arbitrary detention of political leaders and restrictions on peaceful assembly.

"These restrictions will prevent the people of [occupied] Kashmir and their elected representatives from participating fully in democratic debate about the future status of Jammu and Kashmir," it observed.

The statement further noted that under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights — which had been ratified by India — "the right to freedom of opinion and expression includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information."

The Human Rights spokesperson said that while states are allowed under Article 19 (3) of the Covenant to impose restrictions on certain grounds, including in the interest of "public order", the committee which monitors and interprets the covenant "has warned that any such curbs must be necessary and proportionate and should not jeopardise the right itself".

"The fact that hardly any information at all is currently coming out is of great concern in itself," the statement concluded.

UN in contact with India, Pakistan

The United Nations is making contacts with India and Pakistan at “various levels” amid deteriorating situation between the two South Asian neighbour, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Responding to questions at the regular noon briefing in New York, spokesperson Stephane Dujarric denied that Guterres was reluctant to get involved in resolving the grave situation between the two nuclear-armed countries.

“There is no reluctance on the part of the secretary-general,” the spokesperson said. “We are very well aware and following the situation with a lot of concern.”

“Contacts are being had at various levels and we urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint,” he added. He did not specify at what level the contacts were taking place.

Replying to another question, Dujarric confirmed that Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General had been received, and that it would be studied closely.

The letter, seeking UN intervention in resolving the crisis, would also be circulated to the 15 members of the Security Council, as requested, he said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1498627/hardly-any-information-coming-out-of-occupied-kashmir-is-of-great-concern-un-human-rights-spokesperson

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Contacts Being Made At Various Levels with India, Pakistan on Kashmir: UN Secretary General Spokesperson

Aug 8, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: The UN and its leadership is in contact with India and Pakistan at "various levels", with Secretary General Antonio Guterres reiterating his appeal to all parties involved to exercise maximum restraint amidst tensions over Kashmir, the UN chief's spokesperson has said.

The spokesperson was responding to a question as to why Secretary General Antonio Guterres is reluctant to take on the issue of India and Pakistan.

"Look, there is no reluctance on the part of the Secretary General. We are very well aware and following the situation with a lot of concern. Contacts are being had at various levels, and we urge all of the parties involved to exercise maximum restraint," spokesman for the Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric said at the daily press briefing here on Wednesday.

When asked again why wouldn't Guterres engage with the leaders of India and Pakistan, Dujarric said, "I understand. I'll refer you to my… the last answer I just gave you.”

In response to another question, Dujarric confirmed that the UN has received a letter from Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who wrote to the world body on the Kashmir issue.

"It was received. It will be circulated as a document of the Security Council, as requested, and we're obviously studying very closely the content of the letter."

Dujarric again declined to comment on claims that India's decision to revoke Kashmir's special status is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

"I'm not going to comment any further at this point on the situation,” Dujarric said.

Responding to questions on the situation in Kashmir, Monica Grayley, spokeswoman for President of the UN General Assembly (PGA) Maria Fernanda Espinosa, said the PGA is currently travelling and is following the situation "as she can" on her trip. "She is looking forward to be briefed by the Secretary General” when she returns to New York.

On Tuesday, Dujarric had declined to comment on questions at the daily press briefing that India's decision to revoke Kashmir's special status is in violation of Security Council resolutions, reiterating only that the UN chief is following the developments in the region with concern.

"I think we've expressed our… we said very clearly that we are following the developments in the region with concern. We… the Secretary General's position at this point is to urge all parties to exercise restraint," Dujarric had said.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/contacts-are-being-made-at-various-levels-with-india-pakistan-un-sg-spokesperson/articleshow/70581625.cms

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Has JuD Chief Hafiz Saeed being released from custody?

8 Aug, 2019

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohamamd Faisal on Thursday dismissed media reports over the release of outlawed Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed .

Dr Faisal during the Foreign Office’s weekly press briefing spoke in detail about the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir after Article 370 was abolished.

In response to India media reports pertaining to the release of Hafiz Saeed the Foreign Office spokesperson categorically said, “Hafeez Saeed has not been released.”

Last month, Counter Terrorism Department officials arrested Hafiz Saeed in Gujranwala, Punjab. The JuD chief was charged with gathering funds for banned outfits.

The arrest of the JuD chief is part of the Government of Pakistan’s crackdown against outlawed organisations under the National Action Plan.

https://timesofislamabad.com/08-Aug-2019/has-jud-chief-hafiz-saeed-being-released-from-custody

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Prepared To Go To Any Extent to Fulfil Obligations to Kashmiri People: ISPR

AUGUST 7, 2019

The military leadership “fully supported the government’s rejections of Indian actions regarding Kashmir” and is “prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations [to the Kashmiri people]”, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Tuesday after the conclusion of the corps commanders meeting in Rawalpindi.

“Pakistan never recognised the sham Indian efforts to legalise its occupation of Jammu & Kashmir through Article 370 or 35-A decades ago, efforts which have now been revoked by India itself,” Ghafoor said in a series of tweets from his official account.

“The Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations in this regard,” the ISPR DG quoted Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa as saying.

The meeting was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to discuss India’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution, stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status.

India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday stripped Kashmiris of the special autonomy they had for seven decades through a rushed presidential order. An indefinite curfew – that entered its second day – was imposed in occupied Kashmir and elected leaders were put under house arrest.

By repealing Article 370 of the constitution, people from the rest of India will now have the right to acquire property in occupied Kashmir and settle there permanently. Kashmiris as well as critics of India’s Hindu nationalist-led government see the move as an attempt to dilute the demographics of Muslim-majority Kashmir with Hindu settlers.

Furthermore, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also president of the BJP, moved a bill to bifurcate the state into two union territories – one, Jammu and Kashmir, which will have a legislature, and the other, Ladakh – to be directly ruled by New Delhi.

Pakistan had strongly condemned the move and vowed to “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” taken by India. A joint parliamentary session was summoned by President Arif Alvi so that the political leadership could devise future strategy with regards to occupied Kashmir.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/444336/prepared-to-go-to-any-extent-to-fulfil-obligations-to-kashmiri-people-ispr/

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After Govt’s Kashmir Move, Pakistan Downgrades Diplomatic Ties, Suspends Trade With India

August 7, 2019

The Pakistan National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan, Wednesday decided to downgrade diplomatic ties with India and suspend bilateral trade. The development comes a day after the Parliament adopted a resolution scrapping special status to J&K under Article 370 and passed a bill bifurcating the state into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Simply put, High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria will be sent back to India. Pakistan says India has been informed to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan. The government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.

Shubhajit Roy

@ShubhajitRoy

• 16h

Replying to @ShubhajitRoy

Pakistan NSC is comprised of Pakistan PM Imran Khan, Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi among others. @IndianExpress

Shubhajit Roy

@ShubhajitRoy

Just In: Pakistan says India has been told to withdraw its High Commissioner to Pakistan.

The Indian Government has also been informed that Pakistan will not be sending its High Commissioner-designate to India.

@IndianExpress

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“We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their envoy,” AFP quoted foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi as saying.

The neighbouring country has also decided to approach the United Nations, including the Security Council, over India’s move on Kashmir.

Read this story in Bengali

Govt of Pakistan

@pid_gov

Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a meeting of NSC.

Prime Minister directed that all diplomatic channels be activated to expose the brutal Indian racist regime and human rights violations.

He directed Armed Forces to continue vigilance.#StandwithKashmir #Pakistan

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Besides the PM, Pakistan NSC comprises of Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, Foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi among others.

Calling out Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with India as “very short-sighted”, Congress leader and former external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said, “In these times it is important to maintain bilateral ties and the decision (of Pakistan) is very short-sighted and it is not going to make any difference to India.”

Khan on Tuesday voiced concerns that attacks similar to Pulwama could follow after the Centre’s move on Kashmir, which could trigger a conventional war between the two nations.

“This will be a war that no one will win and the implications will be global,” he said while addressing a joint sitting of Parliament in Islamabad to discuss Kashmir.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had said his troops were prepared to “go to any extent” to help Kashmiris. Presiding over the Corps Commanders Conference on a single point agenda of Kashmir, he said: “Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end. We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfil our obligations…”

Last evening, the Indian Army warned its Pakistani counterparts of a response that will be unaffordable for them in the wake of continued incidents of ceasefire violations and increased infiltration attempts from across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

“During the past few days, Pakistan had intensified its efforts at increasing the strength of terrorists in launch pads along the Line of Control, initiating ceasefire violations, pushing infiltrators across the LoC, calibrating terrorist actions in the hinterland and also exploiting social media to launch disinformation campaign in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh while chairing a meeting of the core group of intelligence and security agencies at Srinagar.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019.

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-kashmir-pakistan-downgrade-diplomatic-ties-with-india-suspend-trade-imran-khan-pm-modi-5886466/

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US Closely Following Legislation on Territorial Status Of J&K: Official

Aug 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: The US is closely following India's legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir, a State Department official said on Wednesday, hours after Pakistan expelled the Indian envoy and downgraded its diplomatic ties.

The developments came after the Indian Parliament on Tuesday approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two Union territories -- Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

"The US is closely following India's legislation regarding the new territorial status and governance of Jammu and Kashmir. We note the broader implications of these developments, including the potential for increased instability in the region," a State Department spokesperson told PTI.

The spokesperson was responding to a question on the situation in the region after Pakistan on Wednesday expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria and downgraded the diplomatic ties with India over what it called New Delhi's "unilateral and illegal" move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

On Wednesday, the US had also said there was an "urgent need" for dialogue among all actors to reduce tensions and to avoid a potential military escalation in South Asia.

The State Department spokesperson said that "the US calls for calm and restraint by all parties".

Expressing concern over detention of people in Jammu and Kashmir, the spokesperson said, "We continue to be concerned by reports of detentions and the continued restrictions on the residents of Jammu and Kashmir."

"We urge respect for individual rights, compliance with legal procedures, and inclusive dialogue with those affected." The US, the spokesperson said, calls on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control, including "taking firm and resolute steps" to combat cross-border terrorism.

"We continue to support direct dialogue between India and Pakistan on Kashmir and other issues of concern," the spokesperson said.

India has maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and the issue of withdrawing special status to the state and its bifurcation are strictly internal to the country.

Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.

The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/us-closely-following-legislation-on-territorial-status-of-jk-official/articleshow/70580419.cms

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Violence in Afghanistan Worsens as U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On

By Fahim Abed, Fatima Faizi and Mujib Mashal

Aug. 7, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — Violence has intensified in recent months across Afghanistan as the opposing sides in the war try to turn battlefield blows into gains in negotiations over the country’s political future.

An agreement between the Taliban and the United States is expected to be finalized soon and provide a schedule for the conditional withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops and their NATO partners. In return, the Taliban have pledged to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies from Afghan soil.

But as the talks continue, the violence worsens. On Wednesday, a powerful Taliban truck bomb exploded outside a police station in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing 14 people and injuring at least 145 others as peace negotiations between the militants and American diplomats were underway.

The United Nations said July was the deadliest month in Afghanistan in the last couple of years, with 1,500 civilians killed or wounded.

While the United Nations blamed last month’s increase on large Taliban explosions, it said in an earlier report that Afghan forces and their American allies were responsible for more civilian deaths than the Taliban during the first six months of the year.

Often, even heavily populated urban centers like Kabul feel like battlegrounds in a war that lost clear front lines long ago.

The explosion on Wednesday, following repeated warnings from the United Nations about rising civilian casualties, was the latest to strike a heavily populated area during the morning rush hour. The blast sent plumes of thick smoke into the sky, wrecked the police station and a nearby army recruitment center and shattered windows within a radius of about a mile.

The explosion left a large crater, and wreckage all around.

“My house is destroyed,” said Mohammad Nayeem, 50. “It has all become a ruin. My house is nearby, but even houses about a kilometer away have been damaged.”

Outside the police station, a man asked an officer about his son, who he said had been locked up inside. The officer told him to go look among the wounded or dead at hospitals. As a crowd gathered, the father said he had searched the hospitals first.

As if numbed by the frequency of such violence, the officer tried to shrug it off, telling the man that perhaps his son was bad, and that whatever his fate had been in the explosion was his punishment. The crowd laughed. The distressed father, crying, rushed to look for his son elsewhere.

In a sign of how widespread the violence has become, Afghan security forces conducted nearly 100 large military operations, small commando raids and airstrikes across about a dozen of the country’s 34 provinces in the last 24 hours, the Defense Ministry said, adding that it had killed at least 84 Taliban fighters and wounded dozens of others.

Both sides often exaggerate casualty tolls, which are difficult to verify independently.

Most of the operations by Afghan forces, which are heavily reliant on American airpower, happen in the countryside. On a daily basis, Afghan and American planes strike Taliban targets, which are often mixed in with civilians.

The Taliban use a different deadly tactic: truck bombs and suicide attacks, often in urban centers.

In a city like Kabul, which has ballooned into a metropolis of about five million people, even an attack on a military target often leaves enormous civilian casualties. Afghan officials said civilians accounted for more than two-thirds of the casualties in Wednesday’s attack.

It was the second time over the past two years that the same area in western Kabul — with its police station and army recruitment center — has been targeted in huge bombings. The offices, as well as the civilian areas around them, had only recently been rebuilt after the prior bombing.

The attack came after a tense night across Kabul, with explosions heard in several parts of the city past midnight. The Afghan intelligence agency said Wednesday morning in a statement that it had raided three cells of the Islamic State in different parts of the city, resulting in clashes with suspected bomb makers.

Although the Taliban are responsible for much of the war’s insurgent violence, a small affiliate of the Islamic State has gained a stubborn foothold in the country’s east and has claimed that it carried out repeated suicide attacks in urban centers.

The violence is intensifying as American diplomats are working out the final details of a preliminary agreement with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha. A deal would pave the way for immediate direct negotiations between the Taliban and other Afghans over the political future of the country.

While the United States seems to have assured that element of its peace plan — direct negotiations between the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, after the announcement of a schedule for troop withdrawals — there is little clarity on the American demand for a comprehensive cease-fire.

Late into the evening on Wednesday, American diplomats and Taliban officials continued their negotiations behind closed doors at a marbled-floor venue. Taliban officials took a prayer break. They checked their phones — including for the latest details of the attack — as they walked back to the hall. The setting, under a calm pink sunset that descended on palm trees around the venue, was far from the heartbreak in Kabul.

In Kabul, people repeated an old exercise: sweeping up broken glass, fixing broken shop windows and getting back to work to make a living.

“This store is the only hope I have,” said one shopkeeper, who was too devastated to share his name. “I don’t know why I haven’t left the country. This is a graveyard that keeps eating people.”

“We are tired, we are suffocating,” Ghulam Ali, a survivor, told a local news channel. “When we leave home in the morning, we don’t know if we will make it back.”

Fahim Abed and Fatima Faizi reported from Kabul, and Mujib Mashal from Doha, Qatar. Jawad Sukhanyar contributed reporting from Kabul.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/07/world/asia/kabul-afghanistan-bombing-taliban.html

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Sudan Factions Vow To Implement Transition Deal: US Official

7 August 2019

Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders have made “strong pledges of commitment” to bring about a transition to a civilian-led rule, a US official said on Wednesday.

US Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale was speaking after meeting with Sudan’s military ruler Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, protest leaders and civil society figures.

The ruling military council and leaders of the country’s protest movement signed a declaration on Sunday that paves the way for a transition to civilian rule after more than seven months of demonstrations and violence.

Hale said he had heard “very strong pledges of commitment by all the people I met to make the transition agreement work”.

Addressing reporters at a press conference in Khartoum, he hailed the accord, mediated by Ethiopia and the African Union, as “historic”.

“America is fully committed to helping Sudan transition to a civilian-led government that reflects the will of the Sudanese people,” he said.

The agreement was the result of fraught negotiations between the leaders of mass protests against veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir and the generals who ousted him in April.

Building on a power-sharing deal signed on July 17, it provides for a joint civilian-military ruling body that will oversee the formation of a civilian government and parliament to govern for a three-year transition period.

The pact, welcomed both domestically and internationally, will be formally signed in the presence of foreign dignitaries on August 17.

Sudan has been on the State Department’s State Sponsors ofTerrorism list since 1993 over the Bashir regime’s alleged support for militants.

The designation has devastated Sudan’s economy.

An Ethiopian mediator has said Sunday’s deal could help pave the way to Sudan being removed from the list, but Hale confirmed Wednesday that the designation “remains in effect.”

Bashir is now being held in a prison in Khartoum, facing trial on corruption charges.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/07/US-not-ready-to-remove-Sudan-from-sponsors-of-terrorism-list.html

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Abbas Tells US Lawmakers He Won’t Accept American ‘Dictates’

Aug 8, 2019

President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas has slammed Israel for “insisting on destroying” agreements with Palestinians, saying he will not accept “dictates” from the US administration, which had been unilaterally pushing a controversial plan on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas made the remarks in a meeting with a 41-member delegation of the Democratic members of US Congress in Ramallah on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Abbas reiterated “his rejection of American dictates and decisions related to Jerusalem [al-Quds], refugees, borders and security,” according to Palestine’s official WAFA news agency.

Abbas was apparently referring to a controversial “peace” plan proposed by US President Donald Trump called the “deal of the century.”

Earlier in June, Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that under the US-proposed plan Palestinian refugees would be naturalized and settled in several countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

Leaks have also suggested that the controversial deal regards Jerusalem al-Quds entirely as Israeli territory, whereas Palestinians view the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.

Palestinians believe that the US-drafted plan calls for keeping borders and security under Israeli control, while it keeps Israeli settlements’ final borders to be discussed in later negotiations.

The economic portion of Trump’s deal, which would inject $50 billion into struggling economies in the Middle East over the next ten years, was unveiled in during a conference in Bahrain in June.

All Palestinian factions had boycotted the event, slamming Washington for what they view as an attempt to offer financial rewards for Palestinians to accept the Israeli occupation.

Abbas said that the Tel Aviv regime has not respected agreements with the Palestinians and was “insisting on destroying them, a matter that has pushed the Palestinian leadership to decide to halt” their implementation.

In Late July, the Palestinian president declared the suspension of “all agreements, including security coordination" with the Tel Aviv regime.

Elsewhere in his Wednesday speech, Abbas affirmed his support for the so-called two-state solution “according to resolutions of international legitimacy”.

The Trump administration has taken a harsh stance against the Palestinians.

In December 2017, Trump declared that Washington was recognizing Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and planning to relocate the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the city.

Months later, Washington moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city in defiance of international criticisms.

The move angered Palestinians, who said they would no longer accept Washington's mediation role in their conflict with Israel.

The Trump administration has also cut aid to Palestinians and slashed its contributions to UNRWA – the UN agency that supports more than five million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Trump also closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization's office in Washington last year.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/08/602965/Palestine-President-Abbas-US-Israel

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Saudi Arabia Extends Top Dissident Cleric’s Prison Sentence For 4 More Years

Aug 7, 2019

Saudi authorities have extended the prison sentence of a renowned dissident cleric by four more years, as a crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman against pro-democracy campaigners, Muslim preachers and intellectuals continues in the country.

The rights group Prisoners of Conscience, which is an independent non-governmental organization seeking to promote human rights in Saudi Arabia, announced in a post on its official Twitter page that the officials had ordered Sheikh Suleiman al-Alwan to serve four more years in jail, just after he completed his 15-year prison sentence.

Sheikh al-Alwan, a specialist in modern science and jurisprudence, is known for his lessons and books, which received praise from leading Saudi scholars, including the kingdom’s late Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz ibn Abdullah ibn Baz.

He has long been involved in jurisprudential disputes with members of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority, known as the Council of Senior Scholars, on several issues.

Back in 2004, Sheikh al-Alwan was arrested for refusing to issue a fatwa (religious decree) in favor of the ruling House of Saud. He was held in prison incommunicado up until December 2012.

Saudi authorities released the clergyman in 2013, but the Specialized Criminal Court upheld a 15-year prison sentence against him from the date of his arrest in 2004.

The court charged Sheikh Alwan with money laundering, meeting with dissidents and opposition figures, financing terrorism and bomb attacks, and issuing fatwas in rejection of those released by the Council of Senior Scholars.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, has sought to present himself as a reformist since being appointed heir to the throne in 2017.

Critics, however, say the jailing of activists under his watch and the treatment of dissidents, including prominent  journalist Jamal Khashoggi who was murdered at the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul on October 2 last year, suggests that Riyadh only wants change on its terms.

Saudi Arabia has lately stepped up politically-motivated arrests, prosecution and conviction of peaceful dissident writers and human rights campaigners.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602912/Saudi-Arabia-extends-top-dissident-clerics-prison-sentence-for-4-more-years

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Europe

 

Germany’s Muslims call for an Islamophobia commissioner

Ayhan Şimşek  

07.08.2019

BERLIN

Germany’s Muslim community has called on the government to create a new government post to counter growing Islamophobia in the country. 

Aiman Mazyek, president of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, proposed on Wednesday appointment of an Islamophobia commissioner.

“We have seen the importance of such a post after the federal government appointed a commissioner to combat anti-Semitism,” he told Bild daily.

Mazyek underlined that the appointment of an Islamophobia commissioner would be an important signal, and authorities would become more sensitive about anti-Muslim crimes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government created an office last year for a federal commissioner to fight against anti-Semitism, following calls by Jewish organizations.

Despite suggestions for creating a similar post to address concerns of Muslim community, the government had so far been reluctant.

Mazyek said growing anti-Muslim propaganda in the country has reached worrying levels in recent months, as more than 20 mosques received bomb threats in July.

“One who is against Muslims or other minorities is in fact threatening us all in a free, democratic country. It is crucial that the society recognizes this,” he stressed.

Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and hatred of migrants in recent years triggered by the far-right parties and movements, which have exploited fears over the refugee crisis and terrorism.

Police recorded 813 hate crimes against Muslims last year, including insults, threatening letters, physical assaults and attacks against mosques.

Germany, a country of over 81 million people, has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. The country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims include the country's Turkish minority of 3 million.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-s-muslims-call-for-an-islamophobia-commissioner/1551965

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France denies report that Macron invited Rouhani to G7 summit

7 August 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron has not invited Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the G7 summit to be held in Biarritz later this month, a French diplomatic source said on Wednesday.

The official was responding to a report on the Al-Monitor website that Macron had invited Rouhani to the G7 meeting in Biarritz at the end of August to meet US President Donald Trump. Rouhani rejected the proposal, according to the report.

Rouhani said last week that Iran was ready for the worst in an uphill struggle to salvage its nuclear deal struck with world powers such as France but which has been abandoned by the United States.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/07/France-denies-report-that-Macron-invited-Rouhani-to-G7-summit.html

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Turkey says drill ships continue work in eastern Med, another en route

7 August 2019

Two Turkish drill ships are continuing operations in the eastern Mediterranean and another ship will join them this month, Energy Minister Fatih Donmez said, as a dispute over natural resources there fuels tensions between Turkey and Cyprus.

EU member Cyprus and Turkey have argued for years regarding the ownership of fossil fuels in the eastern Mediterranean, where Ankara says Turkish Cypriots are entitled to a share of the resources.

Turkey rejects agreements the internationally recognized Cypriot government has reached with other Mediterranean states on maritime economic zones.

Turkey has sent two drilling ships, Fatih and Yavuz, as well as an exploration vessel, to operate in waters off the divided island of Cyprus, prompting accusations from Greece that it is undermining security in the region.

Aboard the Yavuz drill ship, off the northeastern coast of Cyprus, Donmez told reporters that a second exploration vessel would begin work in the area by the end of August. A Turkish frigate and patrol boat accompanied the Yavuz.

“Fatih is continuing to drill in the Finike-1 borehole in the areas licensed to Turkey. Yavuz is continuing its operations in the Karpaz-1 borehole,” he said in comments made on Tuesday but embargoed until Wednesday.

“The Oruc Reis seismic exploration ship will join this work as of the end of August,” he said.

Turkey’s operations in the region have drawn a reaction from its Western allies, including the European Union and the United States.

“We support a peaceful, stable region and we discourage provocative actions by any players,” US Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Francis Fannon said on Tuesday, when asked about Turkey’s moves in the region.

EU foreign ministers last month suspended negotiations on a comprehensive air transport agreement and decided not to hold further EU-Turkey high-level dialogue for the time being.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 after a Turkish invasion triggered by a brief, Greek-inspired coup. Several peacemaking efforts have failed and the discovery of offshore resources in the eastern Mediterranean has complicated the negotiations.

On Friday, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci will discuss a way out of an impasse in peace talks, which have been stalled for two years.

Akinci said the Greek Cypriot side was making unilateral attempts to explore for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean despite repeated Turkish Cypriot proposals to resolve the issue.

“This doesn’t leave the Cypriot Turkish side and Turkey with any choice other than what we are doing right now,” Akinci told Reuters TV in an interview.

Speaking to Turkish ambassadors in Ankara on Tuesday, President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would continue to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/07/Turkey-says-drill-ships-continue-work-in-eastern-Med-another-en-route.html

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Turkey says meeting with US on Syria ‘positive’

7 August 2019

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday that talks with the US aimed at averting the need for a Turkish military intervention into northern Syria had been “positive”, according to state news agency Anadolu.

“We witnessed with satisfaction that our partners grew closer to our position. The meetings were positive and quite constructive,” Akar was quoted as saying as the talks in Ankara entered a third day.

Turkey has repeatedly warned that it is preparing an offensive into Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia, which it sees as a terrorist offshoot of the PKK which has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for the past 35 years.

The US has supported the YPG as the main fighting force against ISIS, and its defense officials have been meeting their Turkish counterparts in Ankara since Monday in a bid to prevent an intervention.

“We would prefer to act together with our American ally. If that isn’t possible we have said multiple times that we will do what is necessary,” Akar told Anadolu.

All sides agree that a “safe zone” needs to be created in northern Syria to keep the YPG away from Turkey’s borders.

But Turkey, the US and the YPG differ on how large the neutral zone should be, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned in recent days that patience is running out.

“Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats against its national security,” he said in a televised speech on Tuesday. “God willing, we will carry the process started with (previous offensives into Syria) to the next stage very soon.”

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper countered that any unilateral action by Turkey would be “unacceptable.”

Turkey and the US are NATO allies but have grown increasingly estranged over a number of issues, including American support for the Kurds and Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian S-400 missile defence system.

Turkish media outlets have often shown images in recent weeks of military convoys heading for the border area, carrying equipment and fighting units.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/07/Turkey-says-meeting-with-US-on-Syria-positive-.html

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Jordan's King Abdullah and Boris Johnson hold talks amid Iran tensions

August 07, 2019

LONDON: King Abdullah II of Jordan met the new British prime minister on Wednesday as the UK seeks to shore up relations with one of its strongest Arab allies amid heightened tensions with Iran.

The meeting with Boris Johnson in London also came as the UK nears a crunch Brexit deadline with a withdrawal from the European Union without a deal increasingly likely.

London is looking to secure and boost trade ties with markets away from Europe to soften the blow and Jordan is seen as a reliable, if small, trade partner.

The king was greeted warmly by Johnson outside 10 Downing Street ahead of the talks and a working lunch.

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“The leaders reflected on the close bilateral relationship and longstanding friendship between our countries,” a Downing Street spokesperson said. “The Prime Minister welcomed the King’s progress in delivering economic reforms and urged continued momentum.”

The king and Johnson also discussed Jordan’s role in “maintaining regional stability” and the kingdom’s hosting of Syrian refugees.

The Jordanian state news agency said the meeting would cover “the deep-rooted, strategic relations between Jordan and the UK, and current regional developments.”

Jordan also hopes to secure further investment for its fragile economy, which is going though tough austerity measures as part of an International Monetary Fund program.

In February, London hosted a conference attended by the king to boost investment in his country. During the event the UK increased its aid and support for Jordan.

But the escalating tensions with Iran in the Gulf, including the seizure of a British oil tanker last month, were expected to dominate discussions.

Yossi Mekelberg, professor of international relations at Regent’s University London and an associate fellow at Chatham House, said the situation with Iran was a high priority for both sides but that Jordan was often cautious and pragmatic when there is a major crisis.

“They (Jordan) wouldn’t like to see a deterioration in relations and a war in the Gulf, on the other hand, they are recognizing now that there is a real danger of this happening, there is danger of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

“I think Hezbollah and the Iranian forces on its doorsteps in Syria is another issue that doesn’t make Jordan very happy, it’s a cause of worry for Jordan to.”

The two nations were also expected to discuss the conflict between Israel and Palestine and a US peace plan, which has angered Palestinians and drawn consternation from Jordan.

“The king will probably point out to the prime minister that the current impasse is dangerous and it’s not going to last and this might affect the stability of the Hashemite Kingdom,” Mekelberg said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536906/middle-east

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US, UK warn against escalating sectarianism in Lebanon

NAJIA HOUSSARI

August 07, 2019

BEIRUT: The US Embassy in Lebanon warned that “any attempt to exploit the tragic incident that took place in Kabreshmoun on June 30 to promote political objectives must be rejected.”

The statement comes during Lebanon’s escalating political crisis, which has been ongoing for more than two months.

The crisis has peaked during the last 48 hours, where efforts aimed at reaching a political consensus on the judicial measures for the Kabreshmoun shooting have failed.

There was open confrontation between the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), with the PSP including the Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the judiciary in its accusations.

“The US supports a fair and transparent judicial review free of any political influence. We clearly expressed to the Lebanese authorities that they are expected to handle the incident in a manner that achieves justice without inciting sectarian and regional conflicts with political backgrounds,” said the US Embassy.

“Lebanon’s stability is a priority to us,” said Britain’s Ambassador to Lebanon Chris Rampling as he visited Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

“We urge everyone to focus on economic development at this stage. The adoption of the state budget was an important first step but still needs a lot of work,” Rampling added.

The shooting took place when the head of the FPM, Gebran Bassil, visited the site of massacres between Christians and Druze during the civil war.

Supporters of the PSP staged protests to prevent the visit, triggering a shootout after the arrival of the minister of the displaced, Saleh Al-Gharib. Two of his bodyguards were killed.

Minister Al-Gharib is a member of the PSP’s rival party and an ally of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

The incident received significant political and judicial attention, which has paralyzed the government for over a month. The PSP accused the FPM of wanting to eliminate it by pressuring the military judiciary to manipulate the investigation.

Aoun affirmed his “commitment to the judiciary, which has the authority to act firmly and punish according to the laws,” as he received a youth delegation on Wednesday.

Berri said that he “will not allow anything that could divide the Lebanese people,” and that “political, security and financial stability is required from everyone, as international financial institutions are concerned about Lebanon’s situation.

“A complete and comprehensive reconciliation is necessary to hold government sessions. There is no need for panic as it will vanish with the government’s first session.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1537061/middle-east

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Iraqi refugees removing tethers to avoid deportation: Lawyer

August 07, 2019

DETROIT: Some Iraqi refugees in Michigan are removing GPS tethers to evade immigration officials and deportation before their court cases are heard, according to an attorney representing nearly two dozen refugees.

Detroit-based lawyer Shanta Driver told The Detroit News that at least seven Iraqi nationals have removed tethers in Michigan over the past month.

The men have spent most of their lives in the United States, raising children, working and establishing roots, said Shanta Driver, national chair of the civil and immigration rights group By Any Means Necessary.

They cut their tethers because they “get to a point of desperation,” said Driver, who represents 23 Iraqi nationals.

A number of Iraqi nationals were caught up in 2017 immigration raids and are being deported for crimes the government believes violate US immigration laws, the newspaper reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has argued in federal court against repatriation to Iraq, saying refugees face torture or death because of their Christian faith, for having served in the US military or for seeking US asylum.

Ali Al-Sadoon, 33, removed his ankle GPS tracker in July on the day he was to be deported. Al-Sadoon later was arrested at his home in suburban Detroit and is being held in a county jail in northern Michigan. He now faces criminal charges for removing the tether, in addition to removal orders for breaking and entering, for which he was sentenced in 2013.

“The only reason Ali cut his tether was because he was scared,” said his wife, Belqis Florido. “They sentenced him to death.”

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1537101/world

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan: Catholic charity decries forced conversions to Islam

By Devin Watkins

Aug 8, 2019

Aid to the Church in Need is sounding the alarm on the plight of young Christian women, and even teenagers, in Pakistan.

“Every year at least a thousand girls are kidnapped, raped, and forced to convert to Islam, even forced to marry their tormentors,” according to Tabassum Yousaf, a Catholic lawyer linked to the St. Egidio community.

To draw attention to the issue, the papal foundation ACN is hosting a press conference in Karachi on Thursday, which will see the attendance of Cardinal Joseph Coutts and several Muslim leaders.

The phenomenon of forced conversions hits Pakistan’s religious minorities, especially Christians and Hindus.

Better legal protection

In just one case, in July, a 14-year-old Christian girl was abducted in Lahore and forced to marry her kidnapper. Police later informed her parents that a conversion certificate had been registered for her.

Though current Pakistani law sets the legal marriage age at 16 for girls, ACN is pushing for it to be changed to 18.

The Catholic charity is also advocating for better legal protections against kidnappings and forced conversions for religious minorities. Families of victims often face an uphill battle in court when taking on perpetrators of forced conversions.

Media attention

The press conference on Thursday falls just before the national Minorities Day, to be held on Saturday, 11 August.

Ms. Yousaf, the Catholic lawyer, says the West and the international media “can do much to safeguard religious minorities in Pakistan.”

In addition, she called for better education for young women. “Our girls cannot access adequate education and so are penalized when they look for a job,” said Ms. Yousaf.

Perils facing religious minorities

Separately, a prominent Christian lawyer and rights activist in Pakistan, Sardar Mushtaq Gill, spoke to the Osservatore Romano about the life of Christians in the country.

“The lives of religious minorities in Pakistan is marked by violence, discrimination, and the abuse of fundamental human rights,” he told the Vatican’s newspaper on Wednesday. “It is an old, systemic problem that has its roots in history, worldview, and local culture. The government should be made aware of this reality and act accordingly, to protect non-Muslim Pakistani citizens and to promote the rights, justice, and freedom of all.”

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-08/acn-pakistan-decries-forced-conversions-to-islam.html

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Pakistan closed its airspace for India following Kashmir crisis

8 Aug, 2019

New Delhi: Pakistan has partially closed its airspace amid growing tensions with India over the abrogation of Article 370.

However, according to national carrier Air India, its west bound operations will not be impacted much by Pakistan’s decision to partially close its airspace.

“One air corridor has been closed requiring a maximum of 12 minutes diversion. Not really affecting us,” the flag carrier said.

Full report at:

https://timesofislamabad.com/08-Aug-2019/pakistan-closed-its-airspace-for-india-following-kashmir-crisis

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Pakistan expels Indian Ambassador from Islamabad, recalls own form New Delhi

7 Aug, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan announced Wednesday that it was expelling the Indian High Commissioner and suspending bilateral trade with its nuclear-armed neighbour, days after New Delhi stripped the disputed Kashmir region of its special autonomy.

"We will call back our ambassador from Delhi and send back their" envoy, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced in televised comments.

Qureshi spoke as the government released a statement declaring that Pakistan will suspend trade with India in a downgrading of diplomatic ties between the arch-rivals.

Islamabad also vowed to take the matter to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Monday's decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to tighten control on the Muslim-majority Kashmir had been widely expected to trigger conflict with Pakistan and reignite an insurgency that has already cost tens of thousands of lives.

Delhi has insisted that the move is an internal matter.

A day prior, Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fight the issue "on every forum" and demanded the international community take action, accusing Modi of an anti-Muslim agenda.

Full report at:

https://timesofislamabad.com/07-Aug-2019/breaking-pakistan-expels-indian-ambassador-from-islamabad-recalls-own-form-new-delhi

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Malaysia strongly responds over deteriorating condition in Occupied Kashmir

8 Aug, 2019

*ISLAMABAD - Malaysia has urged Pakistan and India to exercise “utmost restraint” and prevent further escalation of tension in the region.

“Malaysia is concerned over the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir, in particular the repeated escalation of tension in the region,” read a statement issued by Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad’s office on Thursday.

“As a close partner to both India and Pakistan, Malaysia places high hopes that the two neighbours will exercise utmost restraint to prevent further escalation that could be detrimental to the peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

The Malaysian premier stressed the need for both sides to honour existing United Nations resolutions and engage in dialogue.

“Prime Minister Imran Khan, among others, referred to the need to respect the relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions related to Jammu and Kashmir,” read the communique.

Full report at:

https://timesofislamabad.com/08-Aug-2019/malaysia-strongly-responds-over-deteriorating-condition-in-occupied-kashmir

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Pakistan strongly rejects Indian statement over Occupied Kashmir

8 Aug, 2019

*ISLAMABAD: **Pakistan strongly rejects Indian statement over Occupied Kashmir.*

*Pakistan has categorically rejected Indian statement terming the worsening situation in occupied Kashmir as its “internal matter”.*

“Pakistan categorically rejects India’s [statement] that Kashmir is an internal matter, but it is disputed territory”, said Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal in his weekly press conference in Islamabad.

He added that Pakistan will continue its political, diplomatic and moral support to Kashmiris in achieving their right to self-determination.

Commenting on the current situation in the Indian occupied Kashmir, Dr Faisal said, Kashmir has been turned into the biggest jail of the globe, internet, mobile services have been suspended, people are facing hardships due to the shortage of edible, he said. “American delegation was also apprised about the situation of the held valley.”

Dr Faisal said Pakistan will continue development work at the Kartarpur corridor.

Shedding light on the yesterday’s meeting of National Security Committee (NSC), the spokesperson said, India has been informed about the decision taken by the country’s top civil and military brass.

“India has been given a strong response over its unilateral step of stripping occupied Kashmir of its special status.”

Full report at:

https://timesofislamabad.com/08-Aug-2019/pakistan-strongly-rejects-indian-statement-over-occupied-kashmir

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Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai reacts over Occupied Kashmir crisis

8 Aug, 2019

*ISLAMABAD - **Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai reacts over Occupied Kashmir crisis.*

*The youngest Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai has taken to Twitter on Thursday, to demand a peaceful solution for Kashmir .*

In the wake of the abrogation of article 370 of the Indian constitution by the Parliament, people from across the world, activists, and celebrities have displayed massive concern for the populace living in Indian Occupied Kashmir .

Today, the 22-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai has put her feelings into words in a recent tweet comprising two photos with text. She writes, “The people of Kashmir have lived in conflict since I was a child, since my mother and father were children, since my grandparents were young. For seven decades, the children of Kashmir have grown up amidst violence.”

“I care about Kashmir because South Asia is my home — A home I share with 1.8 billion people including Kashmiris. We represent different cultures, religions, languages, cuisines, and customs. And I believe we all can live in peace. I know we can appreciate the gifts that all of our people, in all their diversity, contribute to our world, she says,” talking about the inclusivity South Asia always displayed.

The Nobel laureate shows her concern especially about the safety of children and women who are “most vulnerable to violence and most likely to suffer losses in conflict.” She also demands there is no need to hurt each other.

Full report at:

https://timesofislamabad.com/08-Aug-2019/nobel-laureate-malala-yousafzai-reacts-over-occupied-kashmir-crisis

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Pakistan have the option of approaching ICJ on Kashmir issue: Fawad

Usama Fayyaz

August 7, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said Pakistan could approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against the recent move of India on Kashmir.

Pakistan would never tolerate the unilateral decision taken by India on Kashmir, he stated while talking to a private news channel.

If war was imposed on Pakistan, a befitting response would be given to India, he stated.We are also approaching United Nations Security Council over issue, he said.

China was behind Pakistan on the matter of Kashmir, he said, adding the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had also issued declaration in favour of Kashmir.

In reply to a question about the US president’s mediation offer on Kashmir, the minister said it was the success of the foreign policy of the government that President Donald Trump himself offered the role of mediation on Kashmir.

To a question regarding Afghanistan, he said stable Afghanistan would benefit both the US and Pakistan.

To another question, Fawad said the opposition leaders including Bilawal Bhutto and Shehbaz Sharif had never talked about Kashmir.

He said the leaders of Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N, should avoid point scoring on the matter of national interest.

He, however said the Parliament was completely united on matter of Kashmir.

In reply to another question on halting trade with India, he said the government was working on many options.

Full report at:

https://www.brecorder.com/2019/08/07/516382/pakistan-have-the-option-of-approaching-icj-on-kashmir-issue-fawad-2/

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One dead, 13 hurt as Hazaras’ businesses targeted in Quetta

AUGUST 7, 2019

One man belonging to the marginalised Hazara community was martyred and 13 others sustained injuries as an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded inside a shoe market on the city’s Mission Road on Tuesday.

Talking to journalists at the crime scene, Quetta DIG Abdul Razzaq Cheema said a terrorist, pretending to be a customer, bought a pair of shoes and placed the explosive device packed in a box outside the shop. “As he walked away from the Jinnah Shoe Market, the device exploded, killing one Hazara shoe vendor and injuring 13 others – mostly belonging to Shia Hazara community.”

The explosion smashed the windows of nearby shops and shopping malls. A heavy contingent of law enforcement agencies reached the spot and shifted the body and the injured to Civil Hospital Quetta for medical treatment.

The Bomb Disposal Squad and Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) teams cordoned off the market in order to collect evidence from the crime scene, which would help ascertain the nature of the explosion.

“Terrorists have been changing their strategies following visible security measures in Quetta city, but we would further improve security mechanism across the city,” said DIG Cheema, adding that, “I don’t think Hazara community has been targeted because many people belonging to other communities were also among the injured.”

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan strongly condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives. “Terrorists have been targeting innocent citizens but security forces have been carrying out regular actions against timid enemies.”

CM Kamal ordered strict security measures across the province ahead of Eidul Azha and Independence Day celebrations.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the blast, but it was the second terrorists attack in a week and third in the last fortnight in the provincial capital. All three attacks took place on consecutive Tuesdays.

On July 23, a blast had occurred in the Eastern Bypass area which left four people dead and 32 injured. On July 30, five people, including two policemen, were killed and 31 others injured after a blast ripped through a police van at Quetta’s Meezan Chowk. The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the blast near the police station. The Balochistan cabinet, which was in session when last week’s blast took place, had vowed to bring terrorists and their facilitators to justice and said that such attacks could not weaken the determination of the government against terrorists and their masters.

Meanwhile, talking to the media, Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove vowed to eliminate terrorism from the province. “Unfortunately, our neighbouring country has been importing terrorism in Pakistan through our province,” he remarked.

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/444335/one-dead-13-hurt-as-hazaras-businesses-targeted-in-quetta/

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India

 

J&K to Retain Special Status Regarding Central Funds

Aug 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: Jammu & Kashmir will enjoy a special status when it comes to getting funds from the Centre even after it has been converted into a Union Territory.

Unlike Delhi and Puducherry, the two other Union Territories with legislature, Jammu & Kashmir will eligible for an award from the Finance Commission, for which the government has made a provision in the bill cleared by both Houses of Parliament.

The bill clearly stated that the President will make a reference to the Fifteenth Finance Commission (FFC) to include J&K in the terms of reference of the constitutional body for an award when it presents its report later this year. FFC’s award is to be implemented from the next financial year.

The bill has also provided for a special development package for the backward areas of Ladakh recognising that the new Union Territory carved out of the erstwhile state of J&K needed “adequate benefits and incentives”. The modalities of this package are unclear at the moment. “The idea seems to be to create jobs and employment and uplift the overall mood in Ladakh,” said an official.

The government has maintained that it is keen to get Jammu & Kashmir into the mainstream and is committed fully to its economic development and full integration for which the development package will be readied.

While the issue of an award for J&K has been cleared,The FFC is waiting a formal reference to decide how it will go about the task given the paucity of time.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-to-retain-special-status-regarding-central-funds/articleshow/70579892.cms

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Thousands of labourers flee to Jammu from Kashmir valley

Aug 8, 2019

JAMMU: Around 5,000 labourers who worked in the Kashmir valley fled to Jammu in panic on Wednesday morning, post-revocation of J&K’s special status under Article 370. There was an unprecedented rush at Jammu Tawi railway station with the labourers attempting to catch trains to their home states.

After reaching Jammu, most of them claimed that they had been forced to leave Kashmir by "some elements". “I had been working in the valley for over a decade but never faced such a situation,” said Mohiuddin (46) alias Munna, a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh who was employed with a local carpentry unit on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Things were fine till Tuesday night when he and his friends from UP were asked to leave, Mohiuddin claimed. “We were told to leave the valley as soon as possible and our wages were also denied,” another labourer chimed in. They left for Jammu in panic, heaving a sigh of relief only after reaching Udhampur.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/thousands-of-labourers-flee-to-jammu-from-kashmir-valley/articleshow/70579878.cms

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Afghan panel will decide final deal with Taliban: Tahir Qadiry

Rezaul H Laskar      

Aug 08, 2019

A 15-member negotiating team formed by the Afghan government will decide the final deal with the Taliban after the militant group and the US conclude an agreement, Afghanistan’s acting ambassador Tahir Qadiry has said.

Asked during an interview if India’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status could have implications for the Afghan peace process, Qadiry said Afghanistan is promoting “regional consensus” to ensure peace in the region.

The US and Taliban are likely to finalise an agreement on withdrawal of foreign forces and a counter-terrorism guarantee on Afghan soil not being used by terrorists by September. However, the Taliban is yet to agree to an intra-Afghan dialogue for a political settlement.

Qadiry said the final round of talks will be between the Afghan government and the Taliban. “The Afghan government has formed a 15-member negotiating team considering the social and political diversity…They will be actually doing the deal with the Taliban,” he said. The negotiating team includes politicians, civil society, women and government representatives.

Qadiry said it was unfortunate the Taliban hadn’t stopped carrying out attacks despite agreeing to reduce the level of violence during talks with Afghan delegates in Doha in July.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/move-on-kashmir-may-have-implications-on-afghan-peace/story-tYUDbOTuJySRXSsMhsb8CJ.html

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Mehbooba in solitary, says daughter; officials deny it

Aug 8, 2019

SRINAGAR: Former J&K CM and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is being detained at the sprawling Hari Niwas Palace in Srinagar, adjoining her official bungalow Fairview, and has been provided all amenities to make her stay comfortable, a senior official said on Wednesday in an attempt to dispel “a rumour” that she was “in solitary confinement”.

Mehbooba’s daughter Iltija Javed had told a television channel on Tuesday that her mother was being kept in solitary confinement since the night before special status under Article 370 was revoked from J&K.

“My mother was taken from home on Sunday evening. She has been detained in this government guesthouse called Hari Niwas...We haven’t been allowed to get in touch with her. There’s been absolutely no communication because all landlines, cellphones, everything here is down,” Iltija said.

Hari Niwas Palace, which had gained notoriety as an interrogation centre for militants captured by security forces, has been used as a government guesthouse in recent years.

According to the senior official, Mehbooba is being treated like any of the VVIP guests that Hari Niwas Palace has hosted over the years. “The only difference is that her movements are restricted,” he said. “This had to be done to prevent her from inciting violence or mobilising people against abrogation of Article 370 and other resolutions passed in Parliament.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mehbooba-in-solitary-says-daughter-officials-deny-it/articleshow/70579779.cms

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Ayodhya case: Battery of top lawyers line up for Ram Lalla

Aug 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: A battery of top lawyers are advocating idol Ram Lalla’s claim over the entire chunk of Ayodhya land that has been under litigation for 70 years.

Former AG K Parasaran, one of the most respected figures among lawyers, commenced arguments on Wednesday for “Bhagwan Sri Ram Virajman”, as he is referred to in appeals before the SC as well as in title suits before the HC. Waiting in the wings are former solicitors general Harish Salve and Ranjit Kumar, former additional solicitors general C S Vaidyanathan and P S Narasimha and senior advocate Shyam Divan. Senior advocate Vaidyananthan is slated to commence arguments after 92-year-old Parasaran.

Ram Lalla who was assigned central one-third portion of the of the disputed Ayodhya land by Allahabad high court, is in the apex court in support for the entire 2.77 acre as part of the decades-old legal battle which has impacted social equations and politics.

Given his stature and advanced age, CJI Ranjan Gogoi, heading the five-judge bench hearing the Ayodhya land dispute case, offered to Parasaran that if he wishes he could argue sitting in his chair, a departure from the court tradition of every counsel or petitioner in person standing before a bench while making submissions.

Being a stickler when it comes to tradition, Parasaran politely refused the CJI’s offer and stood for nearly two hours to make his arguments. The CJI said, “We gave you choice so that we do not carry in the back of our minds that we did not make a person of your standing and age comfortable in the courtroom.”

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ram-lalla-has-battery-of-top-lawyers-in-sc/articleshow/70579545.cms

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SC to examine afresh proof since 1949 in Ayodhya case

Aug 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: Asking Hindu and Muslim parties to cite evidence to back their ownership claims on disputed 2.77 acre Ram Janmabhumi-Babri Masjid (RJBM) land in Ayodhya, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would examine afresh the evidence adduced so far in the 70-year-old litigation uninfluenced by Allahabad high court’s decision on the title suits.

A bench of CJI Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde, D Y Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazir repeatedly asked Nirmohi Akhara, which has sought possession of the entire 2.77 acre land as against the HC’s decision to give it only one-third of the disputed area, to back its claim. The bench said that the Akhara which claims to have managed the disputed structure and engaged “sevayats” for worshipping rituals of the idols since December 22-23 1949 when they were installed in the mosque, needed to produce evidences like payment of revenue for the land, account details.

Justice Chandrachud told senior advocate Sushil Jain, counsel for Nirmohi Akhara who appeared unprepared to answer questions from bench, that all must realise that the SC is dealing with first appeals where the court would be scrutinising the evidence afresh uninfluenced by the HC’s view on it. He said that it is not a special leave appeal, which is normally filed to challenge HC orders. The HC had decided the suits and hence did the work of a trial court and the SC will be treating the challenge to the HC decision as first appeals, he clarified.

While Jain sought time to collate the evidence in a tabular form to back Akhara’s plea for possession over the entire land, former attorney general and senior advocate K Parasaran commenced arguments for the idol ‘Ram Lalla’, to be recognised as a juristic person who could appeal through the priest or anyone associated with worshipping.

Parasaran said the entire Hindu community from time immemorial has considered Ayodhya as the birth place of Lord Ram and has been continuously worshipping at the disputed site whereas Muslims have abandoned the disputed structure since December 1949.

Given the century-old dispute and 70-year-long intense litigation over Ayodhya being Lord Ram’s birthplace, Justice Bobde out of curiosity wanted to know from Parasaran whether there had been any such parallel anywhere in the world of a litigation questioning birthplace of a revered and worshipped person, for example Jesus Christ’s birthplace at Bethlehem.

Assuring Justice Bobde that he would try to find if there were any such case, Parasaran said Muslim community complains that it was wrong to place idols inside a mosque but “an answer to this argument will depend on whether the structure was a mosque or not.”

The former AG said it was wrong on Muslims part to assume that the wrong is continuing as within seven days of placing the idols inside the structure, the court had intervened and appointed a receiver on December 28, 1949. Whether the structure was a mosque or temple could be determined on the basis of “who has been worshipping there - Hindus or Muslims”.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-to-examine-afresh-proof-since-1949-in-ayodhya-case/articleshow/70579600.cms

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Govt may ease security measures in Valley for Friday prayers and Eid

Aug 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: The government will be watching closely to gauge the mood in Kashmir Valley later this week during Friday prayers and on Eid-ul-Zuha, which falls on August 12. This will be the first instance of a security relaxation and provide an opportunity to sense the reactions to Article 370 being defanged.

The Centre, along with the administration in Srinagar, has been monitoring the situation closely, with national security adviser Ajit Doval on the ground assessing developments in the Valley over the past few days. He has held meetings with governor Satya Pal Malik and other senior functionaries.

There does not seem to be any anticipated time-line to restrictions being lifted and security deployment — ramped up ahead of the Parliament vote on Article 370 and splitting of Jammu & Kashmir into two Union territories — being thinned out. Sources indicated that while some relaxation in curfew-like restrictions under prohibitory orders (Section 144) may be announced on Thursday ahead of Friday prayers, internet services via mobile and broadband are unlikely to be restored.

These services are prone to being used for rumour-mongering and mobilising locals for stone-pelting protests by separatists and other overground supporters of anti-India jihadi groups. Even with the current restrictions, there have been sporadic incidents of stone-pelting, particularly in Srinagar, with groups of 4-5 miscreants coming out to throw stones and then retreating.

On Wednesday, Doval met security forces in Shopian, areas that have often seen the most violence. Shopian and neighbouring areas of south Kashmir have been a hotbed of terrorism and witness regular clashes with security forces. This was ground zero during the violent agitation after the death of Hizb “commander” Burhan Wani in July 2016. “This area is currently largely peaceful,” a source said.

Government sources said Doval’s presence is intended to ensure two things — people of Kashmir, under a communication and security lockdown, don’t face too many hardships and security forces are coordinated and ready to tackle any trouble. “He directed officials to ensure smooth supply of essential food items and provide emergency assistance on a priority basis,” said an official. Of course, with limited mobility, there are several restrictions on normal life.

On Tuesday, Doval reviewed the security situation at a meeting attended by senior officials in Srinagar. The Modi government is carefully monitoring the popular mood in the Valley and south Kashmir. So far the ground situation has been quiescent, leading security officials to describe it as “satisfactory”.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govt-may-ease-security-measures-in-valley-for-friday-prayers-and-eid/articleshow/70579119.cms

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India assures Bangladesh repatriation of displaced Myanmar citizens

Aug 7, 2019

NEW DELHI: Home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday raised concerns with Dhaka regarding the illicit movement of undocumented persons from across the Indo-Bangladesh border into Northeast India and suggested finding solutions to the problem.

Shah, during the home-minister level talks with Bangladesh minister of home affairs Asaduzzaman Khan, assured India’s continued support for safe and speedy repatriation of displaced Myanmar citizens, or Rohingya Muslims, sheltered in Bangladesh. India has provided humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh in four tranches since September 2017, to sustain these Myanmar nationals before they can be repatriated to Myanmar.

During the seventh meeting of the India-Bangladesh home minister-level talks held in New Delhi on Wednesday, Shah and Khan expressed satisfaction that both countries were working closer than ever before in every sector, including security and border management. They reiterated their commitment to keeping the borders friendly and appreciated the close co-operation between their border guarding forces. Shah appreciated Bangladesh’s policy of not allowing the use of its territory by extremists and insurgents for perpetrating violence in other countries including India.

Both the home ministers reaffirmed the need to further curb the menace of trans-border crimes and agreed to the need for greater co-operation to achieve the aim of a secure border. The two sides also reviewed the pending issues related to security and infrastructure at the borders and agreed to take steps towards the expedited resolution of these matters.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-assures-bangladesh-repatriation-of-displaced-myanmar-citizens/articleshow/70577150.cms

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Amarinder Singh hopes Pakistan’s decision won’t affect Kartarpur corridor

Aug 7, 2019

CHANDIGARH: Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday expressed concern over Pakistan’s decision to downgrade diplomatic ties with India but hoped the move would not adversely impact the construction of the Kartarpur Corridor.

Reacting to reports of Pakistan’s decision to expel the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad and to review `bilateral agreements’ with New Delhi, the chief minister described Islamabad’s reaction as knee-jerk and uncalled for. Kashmir was an internal matter for India, which was in its rights to take any decision concerning the region, he said, adding that Islamabad should not have used this as an excuse to undermine its diplomatic relations with India.

Pakistan’s decision was not in the interest of regional security, he said, warning that any such move to destabilize the fragile peace of the South-East Asian region would make the neighbouring country itself vulnerable.

At the same time, Amarinder hoped these developments would not affect the Kartarpur Corridor and Pakistan would not hurt Sikh sentiments by putting the much-awaited Corridor on hold. The decision to build the Corridor to mark the historic occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji had been welcomed by Sikhs all over the world and any move now to scuttle the project would leave millions of devotees disappointed.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/amarinder-singh-hopes-pakistans-decision-wont-affect-kartarpur-corridor/articleshow/70576992.cms

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After NSA’s interaction with Kashmiris, Ghulam Nabi Azad says ‘money can buy anyone’

August 8, 2019

Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday took a swipe at National Security Advisor Ajit Doval after he was seen interacting with the residents of south Kashmir , saying “you can bring anyone on your side by paying money”. Doval was in Shopian district to discuss with the locals the government’s decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories.

“Paise dekar aap kisiko bhi saath le sakte ho (you can bring anyone on your side by paying money),” Azad told reporters.

ANI

@ANI

#WATCH: Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress on pictures of National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval interacting with locals in Shopian yesterday: Paise dekar aap kisiko bhi saath le sakte ho. #JammuAndKashmir

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The remarks by the leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha came a day after a video of Doval sharing food with locals on a footpath outside closed shops in Shopian district went viral on social media.

Doval arrived in Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after the Centre revoked the provisions of Article 370, which gave special autonomous status to Jammu and Kashmir. He is reaching out to the local population in the Valley as a confidence-building measure.

“Everything will be alright. Your safety and security is our responsibility,” Doval had told people in Shopian district.

Around 400 people, including three business leaders and a university professor, mainstream and separatist activists have been rounded up by police in the latest crackdown in Kashmir, officials had earlier told The Indian Express.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jammu-and-kashmir-article-370-ajit-doval-ghulam-nabi-azad-5887598/

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Under arrest, Mehbooba Mufti sends message to PDP MPs: quit Rajya Sabha

August 8, 2019

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was moved from Hari Niwas guesthouse to Cheshma Shahi guesthouse, after she was able to send out a message asking her two MPs to resign from Rajya Sabha. The PDP chief, along with National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, was arrested hours after the government scrapped the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir.

The Peoples Democratic Party, which was in alliance with the BJP till the latter withdrew support in June 2018, has two members in Rajya Sabha — Mir Fayaz and Nazir Ahmed Laway. When Amit Shah had tabled the Bill to bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories last Monday, MM Fayaz had torn his kurta and then along with Nazir Ahmad Laway tore copies of the Constitution, prompting the Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu to order that they be physically removed.

Before being detained, both Mufi and Abdullah had condemned the government’s move, warning the decision will have “far-reaching and dangerous consequences”. Mufti called it the betrayal of the people’s trust while Abdullah said the government’s decision was “unilateral and shocking”.

Meanwhile, official sources said that barring stray incidents of violence, the situation was peaceful in the Valley. With mobile, internet and cable lines snapped, people mostly remained indoors, news agency PTI reported. A 17-year-old was killed after he jumped into the Jhelum river when he was being chased by security personnel in Srinagar.

Around 400 people, including three business leaders and a university professor, mainstream and separatist activists have been rounded up by police in the latest crackdown in Kashmir, officials told The Indian Express.

Scores of activists from mainstream political parties National Conference and PDP have been detained at another makeshift detention centre at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre while from those from other parts of the Valley have been brought to such centres in Gurez and Baramulla, PTI reported

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/mehbooba-mufti-omar-abdullah-arrested-pdp-rajya-sabha-mps-5887362/

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Kerala man fighting for IS in Afghanistan killed, second in a fortnight

Shishir Gupta

Aug 08, 2019

A Kerala man who went missing last year and joined the Islamic State has been killed in an operation by Afghan-US forces in Afghanistan, a senior intelligence official said on Wednesday.

Saifuddin is the second resident from the state to have been killed fighting for the IS in Afghanistan over the last fortnight, a fact that underlines the deepening influence of the extreme Salafi ideology in the state.

Security agencies have been able to track 98 cases of men, women and children from Kerala joining IS terrorists. By June this year, 38 of them had died.

Malappuram, 350 km from state capital Thiruvananthapuram that was home to Saifuddin, is among the top three districts that have accounted for the largest number of people who joined the uber radical group comprising IS remnants from Syria and Iraq that are trying to expand their footprint towards Kabul.

Kannur and Kasargod are the other two.

Saifuddin had turned to extreme Salafism when he was still completing his studies. His interest in the Salafi ideology deepened after 2014 when he migrated to Saudi Arabia to get himself a job. He found one in the Saudi kingdom’s port city of Jisan and also kept attending Salafi religious classes at different centres, a security official said.

Intelligence officials who have profiled Saifuddin pointed there were no indications that he would take the leap and join the Salafi-jihadist group IS. But in September last year, Saifuddin abruptly headed back home in September 2018.

He spent 10 days at home in Malappuram’s Pookiparambu. Then, Saifuddin had got himself a visa to travel to Dubai and quietly left home.

Saifuddin did occasionally keep in touch with his family mobile messaging services. But he never really told them where he was, or the job that he had picked up. The closest that he came to giving any information about what he was doing was in April this year when he told his sister that he was in the UAE to learn more about religion.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/kerala-man-fighting-for-is-in-afghanistan-killed-second-in-a-fortnight/story-rxfGxGzfPsEBj3j7VbqZFP.html

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South Asia

 

Taliban Claim Bomb Attack On Police In Afghanistan; Nearly 100 Wounded

August 7, 2019

A car bomb exploded on Wednesday outside a police station in the Afghan capital, Kabul, wounding at least 95 people, government officials said, and the Taliban claimed responsibility.

There has been no let-up in violence in Afghanistan even though the Taliban and the United States appear close to a historic pact for U.S. troops to withdraw in exchange for a Taliban promise the country would not be used as a base from which to plot attacks by extremists.

The blast, in the west of the city during the morning rush hour, sent a huge cloud of grey smoke billowing into the sky.

The Taliban said a "recruitment center" had been attacked by one of their suicide bombers.

"A large number of soldiers and police were killed or wounded," the Taliban said in a statement.

The bomb went off when a vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint outside the police station, said interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

A health ministry spokesman said 95 wounded people had been taken to hospitals. Most of them were civilians, including women and children, he said.

Separately, security forces conducted raids in several parts of Kabul overnight and destroyed a major militant hideout, the main security service said.

https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Explosion-in-Kabul-no-casualties-reported-597916

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Taliban suicide blast in Kabul killed 14 people, wounded 145

Aug 7, 2019

KABUL: A Taliban suicide car bomber targeted a police station the Afghan capital on Wednesday, killing 14 people and wounding 145, most of them civilians, officials said in what was one of the worst attacks in Kabul this year.

The shattering morning blast rocked much of the city, just a day after a US envoy and the Taliban reported progress in their talks on negotiating an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan. Many Afghans worry what will happen once the estimated 20,000 US and NATO troops in the country return home.

The Taliban bomber detonated his explosives-packed car at a security checkpoint outside the police headquarters in a minority Shiite neighborhood in western Kabul, police spokesman Firdaus Faramarz said. A military training school is located nearby.

The Taliban said they had targeted a recruitment center for security forces.

Of the wounded, 92 were civilians, Deputy Interior Minister Khoshal Sadat told reporters. Four police officers were among those killed, he said.

The attack took place as many Kabul residents were busy preparing for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, which begins on Sunday. A large plume of smoke rose during morning rush hour. Some nearby buildings were left in rubble. Shopkeepers later swept up broken glass.

"I was having breakfast in a restaurant when the explosion happened," said Mohmmad Qasem. As windows shattered, he and others rushed into the busy street.

Even as the US-Taliban peace talks continue and the Taliban say they will do more to protect civilians, a growing number of civilians are being killed in Afghanistan. July saw the highest number of civilian casualties in a single month since 2017, with more than 1,500 killed or wounded as insurgent attacks spiked, the United Nations said earlier this month.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah condemned Wednesday's attack, saying in a Twitter post that "the terrorists aim to disrupt the presidential election campaign."

Afghanistan's presidential election, already delayed over security and organizational concerns, is set for Sept. 28. The Taliban on Tuesday issued a threat warning Afghans to boycott the polls and avoid campaign rallies which "could become potential targets."

Any attack by the Taliban is a barrier to the peace process, presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqi told reporters.

"The Taliban cannot pose any threat to our government, and the Afghan security forces are strong and can protect the Afghan population," he said.

The Taliban have been staging near-daily attacks against Afghan forces across the country, saying the war will continue as long as US and NATO forces are still in Afghanistan.

The Taliban now control roughly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since 2001, when the US-led invasion toppled their government after it harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

Wednesday's attack comes against the backdrop of another round of US-Taliban talks this week in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the insurgents maintain an office.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to America's longest conflict, this week reported "excellent progress" at the talks. A Taliban official said differences had been resolved over the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Taliban guarantees that they will cut ties with other extremist groups.

Khalilzad has said he is hoping for a final agreement by Sept. 1. But the Taliban have continued to sideline the Kabul government, dismissing it as a US puppet and refusing to negotiate with it.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government says attacks such as Wednesday's apparently are meant to strengthen the Taliban position at the negotiating table but would not succeed.

Also on Wednesday, a sticky bomb wounded at least eight civilians, including women and children, in the western city of Herat, said Abdul Ahid Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police chief.

In eastern Kabul, security officials said overnight raids targeted three locations in residential areas from which the Islamic State group has been launching attacks. Three members of the security forces and two IS militants were killed, the officials said, and bomb-making materials were seized.

The IS's affiliate in Afghanistan has carried out several large-scale attacks in Kabul, frequently targeting minority Shiites.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/at-least-95-wounded-in-taliban-blast-in-kabul/articleshow/70566986.cms

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Afghan Special Forces kill, detain 9 Taliban militants, destroy IED making factory

07 Aug 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed at least 5 Taliban militants during the latest operations and arrested 4 more militants.

The informed military sources said Wednesday that the Special Forces conducted the operations in Ghazni, Paktika and Laghman provinces.

The sources further added that the Special arrested 3 Taliban militants and destroyed an IED making factory in Deh Yak district of Ghazni.

Furthermore, the military sources said the Special Forces killed 2 Taliban militants during an operation in Sar Hawza district of Paktika ad destroyed a small cache of weapons.

The Afghan Special Forces also conducted a raid in Alingar district of Laghman, killed 3 Taliban fighters and detaining 1 other.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghan-special-forces-kill-detain-9-taliban-militants-destroy-ied-making-factory-03583/

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13 Taliban militants killed, wounded in Balkh and Jawzjan operations

07 Aug 2019

The security forces conducted separate operations in northern Balkh and Jawzjan provinces, killing or wounding at least 13 Taliban militants.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the security forces conducted airstrikes and ground operations in Chahar Bolak, Dawlatabad, Balkh and Nahr-e Shahi districts.

The statement further added that the security forces killed 4 Taliban militants, wounded 2 others and arrested 4 suspected militants during the opertions.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said the security forces killed 3 Taliban militants during a clash in Mangjik disrict fo Jawzjan province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/13-taliban-militants-killed-wounded-in-balkh-and-jawzjan-operations-03591/

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Taliban car bomb attack completely wipes out mosque in West of Kabul city

07 Aug 2019

A car bomb explosion in of Kabul city has totally destroyed a mosque besides inflicting casualties on civilians.

The Kabul Police Headquarters in a statement said “The terrorist attack by Taliban has totally ‘Martyred’ a mosque in 6th district of Kabul city.”

The statement further added that the ‘Wild Taliban’ neither have respect to humanity nor to Islamic values.

A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives close to Police District#6 police station in West of Kabul city earlier today.

The Taliban group claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming that the attack inflicted heavy casualties on security personnel in a recruitment center.

The Senior Deputy Interior Minister for Security Gen. Khoshal Sadat said the car bomb explosion in Kabul has killed at least 14 people.

Speaking during a press conference earlier today, Gen. Sadat said the explosion also wounded 145 other people.

The Ministry of Public Health officials had earlier said the rescue workers have shifted 95 wounded people to hospitals from the site of explosion.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-car-bomb-attack-completely-wipes-out-mosque-in-west-of-kabul-city-03589/

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ISIS recruitment is growing in Afghanistan, even as the US and Taliban work for peace

Stefanie Glinski

Aug 8, 2019

In the shade of a riverside open air restaurant in Afghanistan’s Jalalabad, Bilal sits cross legged on a pillow, his eyes scanning the sky and the surrounding area ceaselessly.

He jumps up nervously as the shadow of a bird crosses over his face.

Bilal is a 28-year-old Islamic State Khorasan fighter – the militant group’s active branch in Afghanistan – and says that, over the last year, they have gained a few thousand fighters in the country, with their funding coming from “some rich Muslims abroad” as well as criminal activity, such as kidnapping.

The Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K) has been active in Afghanistan since 2015, with its fighters pledging allegiance to ISIS central command that once operated out of the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, where its members beheaded hostages, raped sex slaves and killed hundreds over a range of accusations including sorcery.

Both the Afghan National Army and the US military, as well as the Taliban, fight the extremist group in Afghanistan.

“There are an estimated 4,000-6,000 fighters and one fourth of them are foreigners,” explains Lt General Abdul Hadi Khalid, a researcher at the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies and former Vice Minister of Interior.

Afghan’s spy agency puts the numbers much lower, saying that only about 3,000 remain after thorough military operations and most fighters enter the country through the Iranian-Afghan border.

A Pakistani native, Bilal, from a religious lower middle class family, came to Afghanistan eight years ago, originally joining the Taliban, but the group’s changing ideology has pushed him away. He eventually joined IS-K two years ago.

As the Taliban and the US negotiate a peace deal in Doha, Bilal says that he is ready for a violent future.

“With ongoing peace talks, IS-K recruitment has increased. This includes recruitment from foreign fighters who are already in Afghanistan, but work with networks in their home countries,” a government security official tells The National.

“We will see if they become bigger once a peace deal is signed, but we estimate that around 5-10 per cent of Talibs might join Daesh then,” he says, using the group’s Arabic name.

Bilal claims that his move to join the group wasn’t a financial calculation but his personal wish to fight ‘jihad’.

“IS-K is giving money and power to people and it’s appealing,” explains Mahmood Marhoon, an author and researcher at Kabul University. “Most of the people who join are young, and while it’s tough to put a finger on exact numbers, the group is definitely stepping up their recruitment.”

The Ministry of Defence’s spokesperson, Zubair Arif insists that 95 per cent of the group has been “finished,” contrary to other expert opinion.

“We fought hard to remove them in Nangarhar and Kunar,” he says. “Many of them are foreigners and enter Afghanistan through all borders, even through Kabul’s international airport.”

The threat is not far-fetched, especially in the country’s eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Nuristan, where the group has gained some territory over the past six months, according to a Pentagon report released in July.

"Regionally, the group continues to evade, counter, and resist sustained CT [counter-terrorism] pressure,” the report said.

According to a new UN report, out of the almost 4,000 civilian casualties in the first months of 2019, 11 per cent could be attributed to IS-K.

The Taliban and IS-K have been fighting each other, often for ideological reasons.

Both groups accuse each other of not being Islamic. In the past year, IS-K has taken over large forest areas, previously under Taliban control, with a booming wood and mining industry helping fund their activities.

“Daesh is also gaining strength in eastern Afghanistan because they are fighting ideologically,” explains Nadir, 35, a former Taliban trainer. After 12 years of educating fighters in suicide attack methods, Nadir, has left the insurgents behind to focus on his university studies.

“The Taliban’s ideology is becoming weak and it means that several of their fighters have joined Daesh – including Bilal,” he says.

IS-K territory is mainly constrained to eastern Afghanistan, yet new, small pockets are emerging across the country.

“We see them in the north, in provinces like Takhar and Badakhshan,” explains Lt General Khalid.

“Salafism is active in some northern areas and that’s where IS-K is finding ground.”

Bilal says the Taliban has changed. “They are not fighting infidels anymore, but they come to the negotiation table with them.”

He says that the group has managed to set up a semi-functioning state system, including schools, courtrooms and medical centres. “Some women have even joined their husbands here.”

“Local people see our good Islamic laws and want to join us. The young men I know – some of them are Uzbeks, Indians, Iranians, Chinese, even a few Europeans –want to give their lives for Islam,” Bilal explains.

“People have been brainwashed,” explains former terrorist trainer Nadir, who is using a fake name to conceal his identity. He’s known Bilal for many years, having once taught him how to build suicide vests.

But, for Bilal, joining the holy war was a decision he made after studying in one of Pakistan’s madrassas, religious schools.

“Foreign forces have come here to attack us and destroy our home, so we have to do the same,” the young man explains. “We do this to terrorise people and stir fear,” he says.

A few years ago, his family from Pakistan’s Karachi visited him in Afghanistan, an uncommon move. “My mother came to find me a wife, but I refused,” he says. “I live right on the frontline and if I die, my wife would be alone.” He now shares a house with two other single Pakistani fighters.

Bilal says he has come to Jalalabad to catch up with friends, but he’s manoeuvring through the city by avoiding checkpoints and hiding from the police.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/isis-recruitment-is-growing-in-afghanistan-even-as-the-us-and-taliban-work-for-peace-1.895798

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Africa

 

Tunisian defense minister Zbidi submits bid to run for president

7 August 2019

Tunisian Defense Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi submitted his candidacy for a presidential election on Sept. 15 as an independent on Wednesday and said he would resign from government.

Zbidi, 69, who has the support of secular parties including Nidaa Tounes and Afek Tounes, is likely to emerge as one of the frontrunners in the election, which was called early after the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi last month.

Zbidi, a technocrat and medical doctor by training, is considered by many to be above the party politics and infighting that has held back badly-needed economic reforms in Tunisia in recent years.

He looks set to be the most serious rival to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who will run as a candidate for the liberal Tahya Tounes Party.

On Tuesday, Tunisia’s biggest political party Ennahda nominated its vice president Abdel Fattah Mourou as a candidate. He is the first presidential nominee from the Ennahda party since Tunisia transitioned to democracy after the 2011 uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Other candidates include liberal former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa and Moncef Marzouki, who served as interim president for three years after 2011.

Zbidi served as defence minister after Ben Ali was overthrown until March 2013, when he quit a cabinet led by Ennahda. In 2017, Chahed re-appointed Zbidi as defence minister.

Tunisia was where the Arab Spring protests that swept the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 began, and the only country where the uprising was followed by a peaceful transition to democracy. Nevertheless it remains mired in a severe economic crisis that has fueled social discontent.

Tunisia’s president controls foreign and defence policy, governing alongside a prime minister chosen by parliament who has authority over domestic affairs.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/08/07/Tunisian-defence-minister-Zbidi-submits-bid-to-run-for-president.html

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Tunisia’s moderate Ennahda VP to run in early presidential elections

7 August 2019

Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party Ennahda, the country’s biggest party, said late on Tuesday that its vice president, Abdel Fattah Morou, is to run in early presidential elections expected next month.

It is the first time Ennahda has nominated a presidential candidate since the North African country’s transition to democracy after the 2011 revolution.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/08/06/Libyan-National-Army-destroys-Turkish-plane-carrying-weapons-in-Misrata-.html

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Double suicide attack kills 3 in northeast Nigeria: Officials

7 August 2019

Two female suicide bombers killed three civilians and wounded eight in a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Wednesday.

The twin blasts tore through a crowd late Tuesday in the town of Mafa, some 50 kilometers from regional capital Maiduguri.

“The female bombers killed three people and wounded eight others,” Bello Danbatta, head of security for the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) in Borno state, told AFP.

The assailants entered the town among a group of local women who had gone to fetch firewood for cooking, Danbatta said.

Local district spokesman Adamu Mohammed, who gave the same toll, said the bombers waited until around 8:30pm (1930 GMT) before launching their attack.

Boko Haram has been waging a 10-year insurgency in northeast Nigeria that has seen it repeatedly use female suicide bombers to attack soft targets such as mosques, markets and bus stations.

Many of the bombers are young women and girls.

The last suicide attack was in June when a triple bombing outside a hall where football fans were watching a match killed at least 30 people.

Also on Tuesday, fighters burnt 11 houses and looted food in an attack on the village of Kotori, 12 kilometers outside Maiduguri, Danbatta said, adding that no one was hurt in that incident.

Boko Haram’s decade-long campaign of violence has left some 27,000 people dead, displaced over two million across the region and spilt over into neighboring countries.

The extremists have splintered into two major factions, after fighters loyal to ISIS broke away from long-time leader Abubakar Shekau in 2016.

Shekau’s Boko Haram group has tended to attack civilian targets, while ISIS West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction has ratcheted up assaults on the military since July 2018.

On Monday ISWAP fighters made an incursion into the garrison town of Monguno, 135 kilometers from Maiduguri, military and local militia sources said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/08/07/Double-suicide-attack-kills-3-in-northeast-Nigeria-Officials-.html

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Tunisia Islamist-inspired party announces presidential candidate

August 07, 2019

TUNIS: Tunisia’s Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party announced a presidential candidate for the first time Wednesday, ahead of polls next month.

“The party’s advisory council has voted by a majority of 98 votes in favor of Abdelfattah Mourou’s candidacy at the presidential election,” Ennahdha said in a statement.

Mourou, 71, was appointed interim parliamentary speaker following the death last month of president Beji Caid Essebsi.

The Ennahdha politician had previously served as the deputy speaker, and changed roles after the then parliamentary head Mohamed Ennaceur stepped up as interim president.

The party’s announcement marks “the first time in its history that the movement puts forward a candidate for the presidential elections,” spokesman Imed Khmiri said.

Ennahdha won the first polls after the 2011 uprising which ousted autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and is currently the largest party in parliament.

Mourou is known as a moderate and is one of the founding members of Ennahdha, which was launched in 1981.

Presidential hopefuls have until August 9 to register, ahead of the election on September 15.

So far 27 people have submitted their candidacy to the electoral commission, including media magnate Nabil Karoui.

He was charged with money laundering in July, after stating his intention to stand in the polls.

Karoui is a fierce rival of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, who is standing in the presidential vote with his Tahia Tounes party.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536876/middle-east

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Mideast

 

Yemen slams Saudi Arabia for politicizing Hajj pilgrimage

Aug 7, 2019

Yemen’s top cleric and minister of endowments have condemned the restrictions imposed by the Saudi regime on the Yemeni pilgrims.

According to the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, Yemen’s Minister of Endowments Najib al-Aji said Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah refused to respond to Yemeni correspondence regarding coordinating efforts to facilitate the pilgrimage or conducting flights to carry Yemeni pilgrims planning to carry out the religious duty this year.

He added that the National Salvation Government denounces the restrictions imposed by the Saudi regime on the Yemeni pilgrims.

According to Yemen’s Deputy Minister of Endowments Fuad Naji, the Saudi restrictions includes refusing to recognize passports issued in the capital Sana’a, closing Sana’a International Airport and opening only one crossing to Yemenis.

Yemen’s Mufti Sham al-Din Sharaf al-Din said politicizing Hajj is used by the Saudi regime against its opponents in Yemen, Palestine, Iraq and Libya.

The top cleric slammed Riyadh for normalizing ties with the Israeli regime and arresting scholars, saying such a regime has no mandate to control the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca, referring to the Saudi incompetence in the management of Hajj.

Saudi Arabia organizes the Hajj pilgrimage as the custodian of Islam's holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina.

However, serious questions were raised about the competence of Saudi authorities to manage the Hajj rituals following two deadly incidents in September 2015. More than 100 pilgrims lost their lives after the collapse of a massive construction crane into Mecca’s Grand Mosque. About 4,700 people also died in a human crush, according to figures provided by Iran.

Depending on the pilgrim's nationality, Hajj costs thousands of dollars per person. Hajj and Umrah make up 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil-related GDP.

Last month, the American magazine Foreign Policy said in a report that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies prompted large groups of Muslims across the world to boycott this year's Hajj, citing concerns that Riyadh may use the revenues from the pilgrimage to pursue the young prince's destructive foreign policies, including his deadly war on the people of Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, when bin Salman was just the kingdom's defense minister, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

In late April, Libya’s Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani urged Muslims to abstain from traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage more than once, saying the kingdom uses Hajj revenues to commit crimes against "fellow Muslims."

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602943/Yemen-Saudi-politicizing-Hajj

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A modern 'Trojan Horse' to stop Iran's ship seizures in the Strait of Hormuz

08/06/19

Iran has seized another oil tanker in the Persian Gulf — this one, it says, was smuggling oil to Arab nations — weeks after it detained a British-flagged tanker and attacked several others.

So far, the United States has not succeeded in building a Western-led coalition to respond in the gulf; Germany initially declined to join the U.S. last week but said it is consulting, considering and “reviewing ... in close cooperation” with Britain and France.

Thus, it seems time to consider a time-honored tactic to respond to Iran’s belligerence: Decoys.

Decoys have been used with great success to fool an enemy or to deter an enemy from attacking what could be a trap or a trick.

Who can forget the most famous decoy in war — the Trojan Horse, used by the Greeks to fool their enemies, the Trojans. That giant, hollow wooden horse was left at the gates of Troy, supposedly as an offering of peace in honor of Athena, the goddess of war. After leaving it at the gates, the Greeks retreated. The Trojans then moved the horse inside the gates of Troy, only to discover belatedly that it was chock-full of Greek “special forces” who exited the horse in the night and opened the gates of Troy to the Greek army, which had quietly returned. The Greeks quickly overwhelmed the Trojan forces and captured the city.

Fast forward to 1942. The U.S. Army built a decoy airfield in Virginia to fool the Nazi Luftwaffe. It was constructed in response to fears of an attack by ever-increasing long-range bombers. What the phony airfield concealed was batteries of anti-aircraft weapons.

The U.S. and its World War II Allies used other successful deceptions against the Germans. In advance of the D-Day invasion of France, they broadcast endless hours of radio transmissions about fictitious troop and supply movements; they planted wedding notices for fake soldiers in local newspapers and faked an entire invasion army supposedly led by U.S. Gen. George S. Patton, considered by the Germans to be the most capable Allied commander. They deceived Nazi aerial reconnaissance planes over Britain by fashioning dummy aircraft and an armada of decoy “landing craft,” composed of painted canvases pulled over steel frames, around the mouth of the River Thames. They even deployed inflatable “Sherman tanks,” which they moved to different locations under cover of night and used rollers to simulate tracks left in their wake.

Lately, the Iranians have preyed on commercial ships navigating in international waters in the area of the Strait of Hormuz — seizing ships and taking crews. Their hostile acts are meant to provoke the United States and our allies; their provocations included the downing of a U.S. Navy drone, and then showing it off in their media.

Iranians know that, to date, their military action against commercial shipping is relatively safe and easy, since tanker crews are not armed and the ships themselves lack defensive weapons, such as machine guns or missiles. Crews are defenseless when met by Iranian military speedboats armed with high-powered weapons, including missiles and mines.

It is time to turn the tables on the Iranians. The U.S. government and our allies should announce that decoy ships will be deployed in the Strait of Hormuz and elsewhere there are threats to commercial shipping. These ships would appear to be commercial ships and would fly the flags of their nations, but the crews would be military and special forces who will only respond to threats. Once a threat is made, the crews would respond with overwhelming force against those seeking to hijack, kidnap or otherwise harm the ship and its crew.

By deploying decoys, the Iranians will never know which is a true commercial vessel and which may be a ship full of military personnel and weapons to repel any threat.

If America and our allies embarked on this strategy, the Iranians’ aggression would cease immediately. Iran is a bully and a coward; while it seeks to provoke, the last thing it wants is a true military confrontation. If Iran respects international laws and the conventions of free passage, then there would be no incidents — but if it chose the wrong victim, it would be sorely mistaken.

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/456259-modern-trojan-horse-to-stop-iran-ship-seizures-strait-of-hormuz

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Iran Boosts Aide To HAMAS To $360 Million - Reports

August 06, 2019

Two weeks after a visit to Tehran by representatives from HAMAS, Israeli media on Tuesday August 6 reported an eye-catching increase in Iran's financial assistance to this Palestinian group.

Quoting unnamed Israeli government sources, these reports say Iran has increased its usual annual $100 million aide to HAMAS to $360 million after the visit.

The Jerusalem Post and Israel's Channel 12 TV say the 3.5 fold rise in aide to HAMAS is aimed at meeting certain demands by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

According to these reports, Iran has asked HAMAS to provide Tehran with information about Israel's missile capabilities.

The visiting HAMAS delegation led by Salih Al-Arouri, the group’s deputy chief of political office, met with Khamenei during the one-week long visit.

Khamenei said during the meeting that Palestinians used to throw stones in their struggle against Israel, but now they have precision missiles, 'and this means progress.”

Iran's spending on militant groups and regional interventions angers many Iranians. During repeated protests in the last two years, slogans have rang out against Khamenei's policy, demanding money to be spent on domestic needs.

Full report at:

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/iran-boosts-aide-to-hamas-to-360-million/30096338.html

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ISIS car bomb kills 5 in northeast Syria: Monitor

7 August 2019

A car bombing claimed by ISIS killed five people, including three children, in a Kurdish-held town in northeast Syria on Wednesday, a war monitor said.

The explosive-rigged vehicle detonated in al-Qahtaniya, a town in Hasakeh province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

Hoker Arafat, a security official, said the bomb was detonated remotely in front of the town post office.

“Three children were killed in the bombing because it was very close to a primary school,” he said.

A member of the local security forces was wounded in the attack, he added.

State news agency SANA also reported the bombing, saying it killed several people, including children.

ISIS claimed the attack on its Telegram channel.

The extremist group routinely claims attacks in northeast Syria, despite its territorial defeat earlier this year.

Such attacks have included arson against wheat fields and deadly car bombs.

ISIS maintains a presence in the country’s vast Badia desert, as well as in areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the country’s northeast and east.

The US-backed SDF announced the end of ISIS’ self-proclaimed “caliphate” in March in the village of Baghouz, in Syria’s far east.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/07/ISIS-car-bomb-kills-5-in-northeast-Syria-Monitor-.html

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Terrorists kill 2 IRGC servicemen in NW Iran near Turkey border

Aug 7, 2019

Two members of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) have been killed in a clash with terrorists in a northwestern region near the border with Turkey.

The governor of Maku, a city in West Azarbaijan province, said on Wednesday the guards were killed in a clash with separatist terrorists.

Hassan Abbasi added that another soldier was also wounded in the clash which took place in Maku border region.

He said that the injured guard is now in stable condition in hospital.

Terrorists operating in neighboring countries have repeatedly targeted Iranian military and security forces serving in border provinces.

The recent attack came less than two weeks after an IRGC member was killed by "counter-revolutionary" elements in western Iran, in clashes where a number of the terrorists were also shot dead.

The serviceman was injured in an encounter and shoot-out with a counter-revolutionary group in the city of Sarvabad in Kurdistan province, but succumbed to his wounds en route to hospital.

An unspecified number of terrorists were also killed or wounded and a sizable amount of their weapons and ammunition was destroyed, according to the Public Relations Department of the IRGC unit responsible for the security of western borders.

Earlier last month, terrorists killed three IRGC servicemen enlisted with the Hamzeh Seyyed al-Shuhada Base of the Corps’ Ground Forces during clashes in the Piranshahr County of West Azarbaijan province. One more was injured during the attack, which targeted a vehicle carrying the forces at the entrance to the county.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602911/Iran-IRGC-clash-terrorists-Turkey-border-West-Azarbaijan-

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Yemeni missile strike kills dozens of Saudi mercenaries in kingdom’s Najran

Aug 7, 2019

Dozens of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, have been killed and scores of others sustained injuries when Yemeni army forces and their allies fired a domestically-manufactured ballistic missile at their camp in Saudi Arabia’s southern province of Najran.

The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, said on Wednesday afternoon that Yemeni missile defense units launched a Badr-F missile at a position of Saudi mercenaries in Rajla area of the region, located 844 kilometers (524 miles) south of the capital Riyadh.

He added that the missile hit the designated target with great precision, leaving dozens of Saudi-paid militiamen killed and injured.

Ambulances transported injured Saudi soldiers and mercenaries to a number of hospitals in the region to receive medical treatment.

Earlier in the day, several civilians lost their lives when artillery rounds and mortar shells launched by Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi rained down on several residential buildings in the Qa'atabah district of Yemen’s southwestern province of Dhale.

Heavy clashes between UAE mercenaries and Saudi-paid militiamen in Aden

Meanwhile, fierce exchanges of gunfire have broken out between militiamen backed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi-sponsored forces in Yemen’s southern coastal province of Aden.

Arabic-language al-Khaleej Online news website reported that UAE-backed members of the so-called Southern Transitional Council launched an attack against Saudi-sponsored militiamen near al-Maashiq Palace in Aden.

The report added that the assault triggered heavy clashes, which left a number of people from both sides killed and injured in the process.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602925/Yemeni-missile-strike-najran

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Scores of Houthi militants killed in Al-Dhale

August 07, 2019

DUBAI: Yemeni troops killed 20 Houthi militants and injured 30 others during clashes in Al-Dhale province in the south of the country, Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

The militia were trying to infiltrate a number of Yemen’s army posts north of Al-Dhale, when the national army, supported by the Arab coalition, stopped them.

A number of prominent Houthi leaders and figures were killed in the clashes.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that an internal UN probe revealed that some of the aid workers have been collaborating with the militants.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536761/middle-east

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia Stands In Solidarity with Egypt and U.S amid Terror Violence

August 6, 2019

JEDDAH – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman offered condolences on Tuesday for the victims of recent terrorist violence in Egypt and the US.

At least 20 people were killed and almost 50 injured when an explosives-filled car crashed into other vehicles in central Cairo on Sunday night.

Weekend attacks in the US cities of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio left 31 people dead.

In separate messages carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the king and crown prince conveyed "deepest and sincere condolences" to the victims and the American people as whole, wishing speedy recovery to the injured.

On the violence in Cairo, King Salman condemned "in the strongest terms this criminal act" and affirmed Saudi Arabia's "support for Egypt and its brotherly people."

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman denounced the "cowardly criminal act" and also expressed his "deepest and sincere condolences" for the dead victims and wished quick recovery to the injured.

Standing in solidarity

On Monday, the founder of the Saudi-American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC) offered the group's solidarity and support to the American people as the US came to terms with two mass shootings in 24 hours.

“We Saudis stand firmly with our American friends. We feel their pain,” Salman Al-Ansari told Arab News.

“The world needs a secure and prosperous America. Their security is an extension of global security. Saudi Arabia was on the US side at a time when 90 percent of the Middle East was against it during the Cold War. That is why I can say with confidence, Saudi Arabia has been and will always be the strongest ally and partner of the US.”

Patrick Crusius, 21, surrendered to police after shooting 22 people dead on Saturday morning in the Texas border city of El Paso. The killer had published an online manifesto denouncing a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas and praising the massacre in March of 51 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Hours later, Connor Betts, 24, killed nine people in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio. He was wearing body armor but was shot dead by police 30 seconds after opening fire.

“Our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy,” US President Donald Trump said on Monday.

He said mental illness was the main reason for mass shootings in the US.

Midnight attack in Cairo

In the Cairo incident, an explosive-packed car went off Sunday night on the busy Corniche boulevard along the Nile River as it speeded toward oncoming traffic, setting other cars on fire and injuring at least 47. It damaged Egypt's main cancer hospital nearby, shattering parts of the facade and some rooms inside, forcing the evacuation of dozens of patients.

Authorities had initially said the explosion was caused by a multi-vehicle accident. But later Monday, the Interior Ministry acknowledged that a car bomb was involved.

The ministry accused a militant group known as Hasm, which has links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, saying it was moving the car to carry out an attack elsewhere. The ministry did not say what the intended target was. The car had been stolen months earlier in the Nile Delta, it said.

President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called it a "terrorist incident" in a tweet, expressing condolences for the dead and vowed to "face and root out terrorism."

The attack is the deadliest in Cairo since a bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt's main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 30 people during Sunday Mass in December 2016. That attack was claimed by Egypt's affiliate of the Islamic State group.

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Saudi-Arabia-stands-in-solidarity-with-Egypt-and-US-amid-terror-violence-597850

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US Military Units Intensify Movements from Iraqi Kurdistan to Hasaka after Turkey's Threats

Aug 07, 2019

Ahmed al-Sharifi, an Iraqi security expert, told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website that the US units' moves intensified with the aim of supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Turkish army's military operations.

"Over 2,500 US ground force units are active from Kurdistan region in Iraq to Qamishli in Syria," he added.

Fierce clashes were reported late last week between the Turkish Army and the Kurdish militia in Northern Aleppo and Hasaka as Turkey sent its special troops to the borders with Syria.

The pro-militant Step News website reported that the Turkish Army pounded the military points of the SDF around the city of Qamishli in Northeastern Hasaka and near the border with Turkey.

It noted that the attacks took place after the Kurdish militias attacked Turkey’s border checkpoint in Nasibin region along the border with Syria.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news website, meantime, reported that the Turkish Army and its allied militants pounded Tal Rafa’at and the towns of Balounieh, Harbal and Sheikh Issa in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo with tens of mortar attacks.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980516000779

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UN official says over 100,000 detained and missing in Syria

7 August 2019

Reports suggest that more than 100,000 people in Syria have been detained, abducted, or gone missing during the eight-year conflict, with the government mainly responsible, the UN political chief said Wednesday.

Rosemary DiCarlo urged all parties to heed the Security Council’s call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained and to provide information to families about their loved ones as required by international law.

She told the Security Council that the UN can’t verify the figure of more than 100,000 because it has been unable to gain access to places of detention and detainees in Syria. She said its information comes from accounts corroborated by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria authorized by the UN Human Rights Council and human rights organizations since the conflict started in 2011.

DiCarlo also reiterated UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for the Syria conflict to be referred to the International Criminal Court, saying accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law “is central to achieving and maintaining durable peace in Syria.”

DiCarlo spoke at an open meeting following the Security Council’s unanimous approval in June of its first-ever resolution focused on the many thousands of people missing in conflicts around the world.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which was mandated by the 1949 Geneva Conventions to address and oversee the issue of missing persons in conflicts, said it registered over 45,000 missing cases in countries around the world in 2018 alone.

The council meeting, initially requested by the United States, offered a rare opportunity for the UN’s most powerful body to hear directly from families of the detained.

Dr. Hala al-Ghawi and Amina Khoulani, who both campaign for freedom and justice for Syrian detainees, criticized the council for its failure to end the war and urged its deeply divided members to adopt a new resolution to pressure all warring parties to reveal the names and whereabouts of all those detained and release all those arbitrarily detained.

Al-Ghawi said she left Syria at the end of 2011 after her husband was detained and held in a cell “so tiny that he didn’t have space to sit down.” He was released but she said her brother, father-in-law, and some cousins remain missing.

Al-Ghawi said many medical colleagues were also detained by the Syrian government for helping wounded protesters, and “some of them were killed under torture while in detention.”

“As families, we have suffered enough and I’m here today to urge you to act,” she said.

She said the council must pass a resolution to put pressure on the Syrian government and all warring sides to immediately release a list of detainees, “to immediately stop torture and mistreatment,” and in the case of death provide “a report on the real causes of death and burial location” to the families.

Khoulani, whose three brothers were taken by the Syrian government eight years ago, said they all died in detention and she herself was imprisoned for six months, “arrested by the Air Force Intelligence Branch for my peaceful activism.”

Her husband was detained in a military prison for 2 and a half years, and “we were both lucky to survive, but many others weren’t as lucky.”

Khoulani said that while the majority of the missing were detained by the Syrian government, armed opposition and extremist groups like ISIS “are also guilty of detention and disappearance.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/07/UN-official-says-over-100-000-detained-and-missing-in-Syria.html

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Egypt president urges nation to back push against militants

7 August 2019

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi is urging the nation to back his government’s efforts to defeat Islamic militants, saying it’s the mission of every Egyptian.

Wednesday’s appeal came after a car packed with explosives detonated earlier this week outside Egypt's main cancer hospital in Cairo, killing at least 20 people.

It was the deadliest in the Egyptian capital in over two years.

El-Sisi said in a televised speech that it’s “not only the mission of the state to defeat (militants), but also, we as a society have to make our sons understand, enlighten and protect them against this” extremist ideology.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/08/07/Egypt-president-urges-nation-to-back-push-against-militants.html

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Five killed in attack by Daesh in northeast Syria

Aug 7, 2019

At least five people have been killed in northeastern Syria in a car bomb attack claimed by the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Syria's official news agency SANA reported that terrorists had detonated an explosive-rigged vehicle that was parked near a telecommunication center in the Kurdish-held town of al-Qahtaniya in the northeastern province of Hasakah on Wednesday.

The news agency added that a number of people were killed during the attack, including three children.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, put the death toll at five, confirming that three children were among the casualties.

Daesh terrorist group claimed responsibility for the blast on its Telegram channel.

Daesh has been almost purged from entire territories it used to control in Syria and neighboring Iraq. However, sporadic attacks by the group are still reported in the two countries.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602913/Daesh-bomb-attack-kills-five-Syria

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Saudi crown prince, Pompeo discuss maritime security, Iran

August 08, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed maritime security, Iran and Yemen with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a phone call on Wednesday.

“The secretary discussed heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Iran has seized three tanker ships in strategic Gulf waters in less than a month, and the United States has accused it of carrying out multiple attacks on ships in the region.

The US has been struggling to piece together an international coalition to protect cargo ships traveling through the Gulf, with allies concerned about being dragged into conflict with Iran.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1537186/saudi-arabia

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Saudi US embassy hits back at ‘false accusations’ undermining Kingdom's counter terror efforts

August 07, 2019

LONDON: The Saudi embassy in Washington has hit back at recent allegations leveled against the Kingdom by politicians in the US.

Embassy spokesman Fahad Nazer said the  “worrisome and false accusations” pertained to the Kingdom’s counterterrorism efforts.

To “set the record straight,” Nazer detailed in a series of tweets the Kingdom’s fight against violent extremism.

Saudi Arabia is one of the primary targets of ISIS (Daesh) and Al-Qaeda, Nazer said Wednesday. “The Kingdom has confronted this threat head on and declared war against both terror groups.”

He said Saudi Arabia has hunted terrorist leaders, cut off their funding and worked to discredit their ideology.

“Several senior US counterterrorism officials, who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, have praised Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism campaign and its intelligence-sharing with the US,” Nazer added.

The embassy’s comments come after Donald Trump last week slammed Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic nominee for the presidential election, for accusing him of supporting Al-Qaeda through his strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1537111/saudi-arabia

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Car bomb kills 5 in northeast Syria

August 07, 2019

BEIRUT: A car bombing killed five people, including three children, in a Kurdish-held town in northeast Syria on Wednesday, a war monitor said.

The explosive-rigged vehicle detonated in Al-Qahtaniya, a town in Hasakah province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor.

It said the car bomb exploded near the town’s post office.

State news agency SANA also reported the bombing, saying it killed several people, including children.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the blast but the Daesh group routinely claims attacks in northeast Syria, despite its territorial defeat earlier this year.

Such attacks have included arson against wheat fields and deadly car bombs.

The extremist group maintains a presence in the country’s vast Badia desert, as well as in areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the country’s northeast and east.

The SDF, backed by the war planes of a US-led coalition, announced the end of Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in March in the village of Baghouz, in Syria’s far east.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1536866/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

 

World Uyghur Congress Attends U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Aug 8, 2019

On Tuesday, 16 July 2019, the World Uyghur Congress and Campaign for Uyghurs co-hosted a side-event to the second U.S. State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on Capitol Hill entitled “Uyghurs: Oppression for the Sake of Progression in China”. The opening remarks were delivered by Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights & Labor.

The subsequent panel was comprised of WUC President Dolkun Isa, Human Rights First President, Mike Breen, Human Rights Watch China Director, Sophie Richardson and Director of Public Affairs for Campaign for Uyghurs, Jewher Ilham. The discussion addressed topics including the persecution and detention of 1-2 million Uyghurs in internment camps, the power of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, dept-trap diplomacy, Chinese manipulation within the UN, and further support and coordination on the Uyghur cause.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) also organized a side-event at Capitol Hill during the meetings entitled, “The Mass Destruction and Desecration of Uyghur Mosques by China” on Tuesday, 16 July. The event aimed to uncover the systematic campaign to eradicate Uyghur Muslim culture, traditions and identity through the destruction and desecration of places of worship. It was co-moderated by Louisa Greve, Director of External Affairs at UHRP and Fernando Burges, U.S. Representative of UNPO. Speakers included Bahram Sintash, Founder of Uyghurism.com, Omer Kanat, UHRP Director and Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

On Wednesday, 17 June 2019, Nury Turkel, Chairman and Founder of the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP), acted as the master of ceremonies at the Ministerial’s reception entitled “Shining a Light On The Uyghur Crisis & Reflecting On Our Global Movement For Religious Freedom”. Greg Mitchell, Co-Chair of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable, delivered the welcome address at the event. The Panelists included Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Lisa Curtis, Senior Director for Central and South Asia, National Security Council of the White House, Nadine Maenza, USCIRF Vice Chair, Anwar Khan, President of Islamic Relief USA as well as Tom Gallagher, CEO and Publisher of Religion News Service. WUC President Dolkun Isa and WUC Executive Committee Chairman/UHRP Director Omer Kanat, addressed the audience with closing statements and calls to action.

On 17 July, Uyghur Congress President Dolkun Isa also spoke at the UNPO-organized side-event on “Compromised Space: How the UN is Becoming an Ever More Dangerous Place for Representatives of Religious and Other Minorities”. This panel discussion was moderated by Fernando Burges and included speakers from diverse minority advocacy backgrounds.

WUC Representative Raises China’s Human Rights Abuses at the UN HRC 41 Session

In behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples, WUC Policy Coordinator Ryan Barry gave an oral statement at the UN Human Rights Council 41- Session on 1 July 2019. Mr. Barry criticized the UN’s inaction and complicity in severe human rights abuses by the Chinese government against the Uyghur people by not addressing the mass arbitrary detention of 1-3 million Uyghurs in concentration camps. Mr. Barry further stated that – referring to the propaganda speech of the Vice Governor of the Uyghur region in front of the Human Rights Council on 25 June 2019 – this Council should not be a platform for human rights abusers, but give space to civil society to address human rights issues on a world stage.

In their right of reply to the statement, the Chinese delegation rejected the statement made by the WUC representative, complaining that human rights defenders outside of China were allegedly politicizing the human rights issue and should not be allowed to express themselves at the Human Rights Council despite it having been created for the international community to hear the critical voices of civil society groups on human rights abuses.

WUC President Speaks at Cordoba Foundation in London

On 21 July 2019, WUC President Dolkun Isa and WUC Director of the Committee for Religious Affairs Turghunjan Alawdun delivered speeches at an event organized by the Cordoba Foundation in London, UK, entitled "Confronting Cutural Genocide of Uyghur Muslims: Global Responses and Moral Obligations". The event was held at the London Muslim Centre and was supported by the UK Uyghur community and the Muslim Association of Britain.

In his speech, Dolkun Isa addressed the long-term policies of sinicization and suppression of human rights in Eat Turkistan. He went on to detail the total state of surveillance enabling the arbitrary persecution of Uyghurs, who easily end up being sent to concentration camps: "Every single Uyghur is not feeling safe today", the WUC President stated. He further explained the Chinese policies on systematic mosque destructions and intrusive visits to Uyghur homes by Communist Party officials, where the hosts are often forced to drink alcohol and eat pork. Dolkun Isa, moreover,  emphasized the lack of reaction from the Islamic World, even when Qurans were being burnt by the Chinese government.

Turghunjan Alawdun focused his contribution on the forcible assimilation of Uyghurs by the Chinese government to confirm to the Han Chinese majority culture. He specifically mentioned the ban on Islamic practices, such as funeral and baptism rites and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Uyghur population in more than 1,800 concentration camps.

Demonstrations Held Around the World To Mark 10-Year Anniversary of 5 July 2009 Urumqi Massacre

On July 5, 2019, protests for the 10th anniversary of the July 5, 2009 Urumqi Massacre took place in 22 cities and in 14 countries worldwide. From July 5 to 7, 2009, thousands of Uyghur protesters were killed, forcibly disappeared or injured in a brutal response by the Chinese government to peaceful protests of mostly Uyghur students in Urumqi in response to China’s policies in the region. In the 10 years since the massacre, the situation of the Uyghur people in East Turkistan has deteriorated incredibly, as estimated 1 -3 million innocent Uyghurs and other ethnic have been detained in internment camps and the Chinese government is striving to completely erode the Uyghur identity.

In Munich, World Uyghur Congress and the East Turkistan Union in Europe organized a protest march to the Chinese General Consulate, where they held a rally and left a letter in the mailbox of the Consulate with the demands of the Uyghur people. The WUC President Dolkun Isa said in his speech that the situation of Uyghurs in East Turkistan had drastically deteriorated since the massacre in 2009. He reiterated that China's so-called vocational training centers, allegedly meant to fight terrorism, were nothing but concentration camps designed to spread fear and terror amongst the Uyghur population.

Other Stories:

Beijing Makes Unverified Claims About Releasing Detainees

At a news conference in Beijing on July 30, 2019, Shohrat Zakir, Governor of East Turkistan, claimed that the majority of the camp inmates — maybe 90 percent or more — had “returned to society”. The World Uyghur Congress commented in a press release that Zakir’s remarks followed a predictable pattern of dubious statements that began with the outright denial of the internment camp system for more than a year and a half. As quoted in the New York Times, WUC President Dolkun Isa said: “Although there may be a kernel of truth to what we heard this morning, it’s so buried in deception that it becomes unrecognizable”. Uyghur experts and Uyghurs in exile also contested the claim, saying there was no evidence of mass releases and that people nominally freed from camps often remained in effective captivity or are used for forced labor. In reaction to the announcement, the Uyghur diaspora launched a social media campaign #Provethe90 to challenge Beijing to prove their statement.

#NoRightsNoGames Campaign Launched

On July 24, 2019, the campaign #NoRightsNoGames2022 was launched, calling on the IOC to unmistakably convey to the Chinese government that as long as millions of Uyghurs are detained in camps and millions more are forced to renounce their ethnic identity, China is not fit to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The campaign was launched one year from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and will continue at least until then. Ms. Irade Kashgary, a Uyghur rights activist, spoke in the name of @NoRightsNoGames to Deutsche Welle, demanding that the Uyghur people’s human rights be respected by China ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Forced labor, mass surveillance and holding millions in arbitrary detention contravenes directly the Olympic Charter’s basic principles of promoting a peaceful society and preserving human dignity.

Chinese White Paper Seeks to Erase Uyghur Culture and Identity

On July 21, 2019, the Chinese government published a policy paper, with which the Chinese government is trying to rewrite history and erase the Uyghur ethnic identity. Ignoring history, facts and the feelings of the Uyghur people, the paper denies their Turkic roots and calls their homeland of East Turkistan an “inseparable part of China”. In a bid to further sinicise Islam and contribute to the cultural genocide already in progress against the Uyghur people, it moreover alleges that Islam is not an indigenous belief system in the Uyghur region and that the conversion to Islam was involuntary.

Australian Uyghur Voices Finally Heard by Their Government

Following an ABC Four Corners program on July 15, 2019, which detailed the desperate situation of Uyghur Australians with family members trapped in East Turkistan, the tide appears to be turning in favor of action by the Australian government, as many Australian Uyghurs dared to speak out against Chinese oppression. One example included Sadam Abudusalamu, a young Uyghur Australian man who bravely informed the Australian public in a touching interview on Four Corners about the fate of his wife, who is not allowed to leave China, despite her two-year-old son holding Australian citizenship. After half a year contacting Australian officials, seeking assistance to have his son brought to his home country, this week the Australian Foreign Minister declared that the Australian Embassy in Beijing had formally requested that Mr. Abudusalamu’s wife and son be allowed to travel to Australia.

Turkish Delegation to Visit East Turkistan

According to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu, Turkey will send a delegation of 10 officials to East Turkistan. Mr. Cavasoglu was quoted as saying “our expectation is for our Uighur brethren to live under one Chinese roof in peace”. Conclusions from the visit will make clear whether the Turkish government is actually supportive of the Uyghur people.

Malaysian Prime Minister "Careful not to Condemn China's Treatment of Uyghurs"

On July 31, 2019, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Turkish news channel TRT World that condemning China on their treatment of Uyghurs “would not achieve anything” and “would not resolve the issue”. He went on to say that he needed more information on the situation of Uyghurs in East Turkistan before passing judgement on China. Human Rights Watch (HRW) commented on the Prime Minister’s statements by noting that “when even outspoken leaders like Mahathir bite their tongue rather than criticize, it illustrates the incredible steps China is taking to intimidate critics both near and far.”

Jewher Ilham Addresses Concentration Camps in Meetign with U.S. President Trump

Public Affairs Director of Campaign for Uyghurs and daughter of detained Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti, Jewher Ilham, was received by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, July 17, at the Oval Office alongside other victims of religious persecution. This was the first official meeting of a Uyghur community representative with President Trump, who called the situation faced by Uyghurs detained in the Chinese concentration camps “tough stuff”.

https://www.uyghurcongress.org/en/august-newsletter-5/

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Jakarta turns to religious leaders to fight air pollution

August 8 2019

While struggling to bring down air pollution in the city, the Jakarta administration is eyeing help from religious leaders to raise people’s awareness to act together to overcome the problem.In collaboration with Bonn-based ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability, a global network of towns, cities and regions committed to building a sustainable future, the Jakarta administration will provide modules and organize training programs about climate change viewed from religious perspectives.The religious leaders from six official religions in Indonesia—Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhism and Confucianism — will be involved to create the modules of the training programs. The modules are also expected to become guidelines in religious sermons.ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability Indonesia country manager Gina Karina said Jakartans needed to take active roles in reducin...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/08/08/jakarta-turns-religious-leaders-fight-air-pollution.html

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Non-Muslim excos meet Selangor Sultan amid unilateral conversion row in state

08 August 2019

BY JUSTIN ONG

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Selangor’s non-Muslim executive councillors secured an audience with Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah today, Bernama reported.

The national news agency said Datuk Teng Chang Khim, V. Ganabatirau, Hee Loy Sian and Ng Sze Han were believed to have met the sultan over the mentri besar’s alleged push to introduce unilateral conversion of minors in Selangor.

Ganabatirau confirmed the meeting but declined to reveal what was discussed.

Rumours of the alleged bid stem from the premature end of the last Selangor state assembly sitting last month, which had then been thought to be over purported vote of no confidence against Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari.

However, it has since emerged that Amirudin allegedly sought to introduce an amendment to a state enactment that would have removed the requirement for both parents’ consent to convert a minor to Islam.

Earlier today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng reiterated his party’s rejection of the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam and pledged his party’s support to Selangor Speaker Ng Sue Lim who is from DAP.

Ng is suspected of bringing the assembly proceedings to an early end in order to prevent the tabling of the amendment.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/08/non-muslim-excos-meet-selangor-sultan-amid-unilateral-conversion-row-in-sta/1778810

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Malaysia's new King warns against disunity

July 30, 2019

The Council of Churches of Malaysia congratulated and welcomed the Muslim-majority country's new King Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin on his elevation to the throne on July 30 with a call for peace and harmony in the multi-cultural nation.

"The churches will uphold their Majesties’ wellbeing in their prayers and hope that they will continue to care and unite the people from the various races and religions so that everyone can live in peace and prosperity in our beloved country," Herman Shastri, the secretary general of the council said in a statement.

Titled Yang di-Pertuan Agong locally, the new king, the 16th in the nation's history, will reign for five years. As king, he is also the head of Islamic affairs in the country.

The Southeast Asian nation is a constitutional monarchy which has a unique system of alternating the throne among rulers of the country's nine states headed by Islamic royalty.

During his installation ceremony, which was televised nationally and attended by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and hundreds of guests decked out in Islamic finery, Sultan Abdullah stressed that unity and harmony are the pillars and strength of the nation.

“Playing with fire will burn not only oneself but also the whole village,” Sultan Abdullah said at his installation at Istana Negara, the national palace, in Kuala Lumpur.

He also stressed that the royal institution is not a mere symbol but an integral part of Malaysia which is a parliamentary democracy.

“It is the basis of unity, of bringing the people together and of sparking the spirit of patriotism. It is a spirit that, if inherited and cherished by every single citizen, can bring forth a sense of love and loyalty to the country,” the king said.

He pledged to do his best to promote unity and tolerance among the people of all races and religions.

“I will put the people first; respect the old and honor the young. I will express all this with great humility,” he said, welcoming the government's effort to strengthen unity through the establishment of the Consultative Council for People's Harmony.

After attending school in Malaysia in his early years, Sultan Abdullah went on to study in Britain, where he attended the Sandhurst military academy, according to a biography published by Bernama, the national news agency.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/malaysias-new-king-warns-against-disunity/85758

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Indonesian Muslims under fire for communist books purge

August 8, 2019

A hard-line Muslim group in Indonesia has come under fire for raiding and removing all books related to communism at a bookstore in Makassar on South Sulawesi province

The group calling itself the Brigade Muslim Indonesia raided Gramedia Bookstore on Aug. 4 and took books related to Marxism, Leninism, and communism, including titles written by a well-known German-born Jesuit priest, Father Franz Magnis-Suseno.

The groups justified their raid by saying they “confiscated the books” because they promoted ideologies banned in Indonesia by a 1966 decree, soon after a communist purge that reportedly killed more than a million people.

The decree prohibits any activity that spreads or helps develop communism, the group said.

However, Father Magnis, who has written several books on Karl Marx, said his books were not aimed at spreading communism, but were critical studies.

"We should not be afraid of communism ... it is a ridiculous theory," he said.

"[The raid] is a ridiculous act. They are foolish,” said Father Magnis, who is also a professor at Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta.

“They should read what’s in the books, not just their covers, and if they object, they can take me to court,” he said.

Petrus Selestinus, a prominent Catholic lawyer, said the group’s actions were another case of conservative groups taking it upon themselves to administer what they think is the law to suit their own aims.

“Their action is simply criminal because they took other people's property,” Selestinus said.

He also said it violated a 2017 law on mass organizations which says an organization is prohibited from any activity that is in the domain of a government authority or law enforcer.

“They could face a year in prison,” he told ucanews.com

Ahmad Suaedy, a Muslim intellectual and senior researcher at the Wahid Institute, a multi-faith and pro-democracy institute, said vigilante groups can’t do as they please and try taking the law into their own hands.

He said the books would not have been openly on sale in a bookstore if they were illegal.

Full report at:

https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-muslims-under-fire-for-communist-books-purge/85821

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Najib behind sexual misconduct claims against me, says ex-minister

V Anbalagan

August 8, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Former second finance minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah today accused Najib Razak of engineering sexual harassment and corruption allegations against him after he left office in 2016, the corruption trial of the former prime minister heard today.

Husni, the 56th prosecution witness in the trial on transfers of money linked to SRC International Sdn Bhd, was answering questions from Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah.

Husni said he resigned from the Cabinet of his own accord in June 2016 but spoke for about 30 minutes about the future of the country in the Dewan Rakyat during a sitting in October that year, in his capacity as Tambun MP.

Shafee then asked Husni whether he spoke in the legislature because he (Husni) was victimised.

Shafee: Were you upset that there were allegations against you?

Husni: Yes.

Shafee: Did you associate these allegations with Najib over the sexual harassment against a female staff in your office and financial scandal?

Husni: Yes.

Shafee: Was there a police report made against you for the sexual harassment?

Husni: Yes.

At this juncture, ad hoc prosecutor V Sithambaram objected to the line of questioning, saying it was irrelevant to the charges.

“These questions are intended to embarrass the witness,” he said.

Shafee replied that Husni had come to the court as an angry man to take revenge against Najib.

The lawyer said it was only Husni’s perception that Najib had engineered the whole thing.

Trial judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali then ruled that the question on sexual harassment was scandalous and aimed at embarassing the witness.

He said there were to be no more questions on the matter.

Earlier, Husni told the court that he first read in the newspaper on June 27, 2016 that Najib intended to move him to another ministry.

“I met him after an Economic Council meeting on the same day and he informed me that I would be transferred to the housing and local government ministry,” he said.

Husni said he asked Najib to drop him from the Cabinet.

The witness said he wanted to resign in 2015 but chose to remain in the Cabinet to complete the government’s rationalisation programme to settle the RM42 billion owed by 1MDB.

Husni said out of respect for Najib, he told the media and his constituents that he left the government due to 1MDB and SRC International.

Najib is facing six charges of money laundering and criminal breach of trust in the transfer of RM42 million to his account from SRC International, a former unit of 1MDB.

He is also accused of abusing his power as prime minister by giving government guarantees on SRC International’s RM4 billion loan from Retirement Fund Inc.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/08/08/najib-behind-sexual-misconduct-claims-against-me-says-ex-minister/

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Banned author rips into anti-khat lobby for opposing Jawi

August 8, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Controversial novelist Faisal Tehrani has waded into the Jawi-khat debate, launching a strongly worded attack on those opposed to the teaching of the script in schools, saying they are no different from Malays “who fear the symbols of dogs and pigs during Chinese New Year celebrations”.

“This reactionary cursing exists on both sides. And then we have liberals who are only interested in their personal rights,” Faisal, whose seven books were banned following the recommendation of Islamic authorities, wrote in his weekly column on FMT today.

Faisal also questioned some “liberals” who joined the opposition to the teaching of khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject in schools.

“They cannot differentiate between culture and human rights, and mix everything up with their own orgasm.

“My advice is, enrol in any summer school in Geneva and keep learning,” he wrote.

Faisal is the pen name of Faizal Musa, an expert on Malay studies who has written more than 20 widely read academic papers on the subject of Malay history, as well as plays, short stories and novels which have won him literary prizes and awards. Many of his works question the legitimacy of Malaysia’s Islamic bureaucrats, while his critics accuse him of promoting LGBT rights and “liberal Islam”.

Faisal said the khat controversy is part of a larger tendency among Malaysians to look at everything from their own racial comfort.

He said one reason non-Muslims are against the teaching of khat and Jawi to their children is the tendency to link the Malay language to Islam.

Faisal said the country’s language guardian, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, is also guilty of this in regarding Islamic-themed poetry and novels as national literature.

“We paint everything as Malay and Islam,” said Faisal. “The excuse given is that Malay is the official language and Islam the official religion.

“On the other hand, if an Iban writes a Malay novel with elements of Christianity, he will be branded a traitor, an enemy of Islam, and accused of challenging Malay dominance and stability.”

The debate on Jawi and khat was sparked after the education ministry said it would introduce lessons on khat, the calligraphic form of Jawi, as part of the Bahasa Melayu syllabus for Year 4 pupils in vernacular schools.

This drew protest from Chinese and Tamil educationists as well as DAP grassroots members who urged party leaders to oppose the move.

Yesterday, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism joined the opposition and rejected the Jawi script as part of the Malay language.

It said the khat calligraphy is closely related to Islamic teachings, and that Malay language is in the romanised script.

But Faisal said Jawi had been used for a variety of topics, from non-Islamic religious scripts to works of erotica.

“Ancient tales with Hindu elements such as Sri Rama were also written in Jawi. Hikayat Hikamat, about a Malay who converted to Christianity, was also written in Jawi.

“I keep tens of novels as well as works of erotica from the 1940s to 1960s, all written in Jawi,” he added.

Faisal said while Jawi has its origins in the Arabic script, it had undergone at least four phases of evolution in the Malay world.

“The first two phases were influenced by the Arabic language.

“The latter two were when the Malays amended the script, as can be seen in Pakatan Bahasa Johor (1937) and the Za’aba Spelling System (1938),” he said, referring to spelling standards developed for the Jawi script.

Faisal also criticised the explanation given by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching on why Jawi is part of the Islamic Studies subject and not the Malay language.

Teo told the Dewan Rakyat that Jawi was included in Islamic Studies in 1983 as those teaching the subject were usually well-versed in the script.

“This was a mistake. Including Jawi in the Islamic Studies subject is making it exclusively Islamic,” he said.

He said the older generation of non-Malays who attended national schools are today well-versed in Jawi, as it was part of the syllabus in the 1970s.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/08/08/banned-author-rips-into-anti-khat-lobby-for-opposing-jawi/

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In Selangor, Pakatan downplays fallout over controversial conversion Bill

07 August 2019

BY SHAZWAN MUSTAFA KAMAL AND IDA NADIRAH

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Tensions are rife in Selangor as Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari is set to meet state Pakatan Harapan leaders tomorrow amid a split among the ruling coalition’s state lawmakers over a proposed amendment which would allow the unilateral conversion of minors to Islam.

It is understood that the Selangor MB had planned to push through an amendment to a state enactment, which currently says that individuals below 18 must obtain the consent of both “mother and father” before converting to Islam.

The planned amendment will see a change of this wording to “mother or father”; meaning that one parent will get to decide on the conversion of a minor.

While leaders are downplaying the purpose of tomorrow’s meeting, they admit that the proposal is in place and that it was meant to be tabled during last week’s state assembly.

“On the amendment of the Bill, there are some disagreements so perhaps the Speaker at the time felt that it was best to not table Bill yet

“But for the government (Selangor) we want to table it,” PKR’s Bukit Melawati state assemblyman Juwairiya Zulkifli told Malay Mail.

She said the “disagreement now” between Selangor PH lawmakers is whether the amendment should be tabled now or later.

“The MB is doing it the right way, but the Speaker has the power to make the decision,” she added.

The Selangor assembly meeting was scheduled to run for nine days from July 29 to August 9, but ended after just two days on July 31.

This was rumoured to be linked to a vote of no-confidence against Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari, but Selangor Speaker Ng Suee Lin denied this.

“The state assembly was cut short because I followed the standing order to end it when the proceedings have ended, and the participation of the state lawmakers was also not effective this time round,” he told Malay Mail.

When asked about claims of a fallout between him and Amirudin over the proposed amendment, Ng said it was all “hearsay.”

“So far, we have a good relationship,” he added, but told Malay Mail to direct all queries regarding the amendment to MB Amirudin.

“You better ask him tomorrow,” Ng said, adding that he will be attending the meeting with Amirudin tomorrow.

Selangor Amanah chairman Izham Hashim also confirmed the meeting tomorrow, but stressed that it was a “regular” PH meeting.

“It is a regular monthly meeting, but one of the issues to be discussed is the Bill,” he told Malay Mail, referring to the amendment.

Five Selangor leaders from each PH party are expected to be at the meeting.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/07/in-selangor-pakatan-downplays-fallout-over-controversial-conversion-bill/1778572

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North America

 

ISIS Is Using Internet Propaganda to Maintain a 'Virtual Caliphate,' UN Report Says

By Ben Makuch

Aug 6 2019

Though the territorial holdings of the Islamic State and its so-called “Caliphate” are no more, a recent United Nations report on the status of al-Qaeda and ISIS warns the latter terror group is using the internet to reestablish its global network.

The report, commissioned by the UN Security Council, outlines how ISIS is evolving into a “mainly covert network” and is maintaining an insurgency in the former region of its Caliphate. The group still has the potential to inspire or carry out international attacks, however, by “using propaganda to maintain the group’s reputation as the leading global terrorist brand—the ‘virtual caliphate.’”

According to the report, ISIS has recently focused on improving the technical skills of potential attackers abroad by disseminating “online tutorials on building home-made chemical and biological weapons." At the same time, the group is continually encouraging the kinds of “low-tech” attacks—among them stabbings and car attacks against civilian populations—seen across Europe and elsewhere in recent years.

In the spring of 2014, at the beginning of its surge toward a sizable territory in Iraq and Syria, ISIS prolifically used social media as a sort of weapon of war to intimidate the West and recruit new fighters from abroad. Part of fading into a classic insurgency means embracing its past online tactics, which means using the internet to spread its message.

The report also cited evidence provided by the security services of a government that a terror group used the dark web to clandestinely purchase forged travel documents to "facilitate the cross-border travel of suspected terrorists.” Though evidence of allegedly ISIS-connected individuals using the encrypted Tor network for anything more than propaganda is sparse (and often hyperbolic), the evidence in the UN report matches up to reporting about ISIS purchasing illegal travel documents from the Italian mafia on the dark web.

Joshua Fisher-Birch of the Counter Extremism Project, a US based terrorism watchdog, said in an interview that the infamous terror group has continued to thrive online, even in the face of its territorial demise.

“ISIS and their online supporters continue to operate a sophisticated online network that spreads propaganda, encourages lone actor attacks, and disseminates information on internet security, explosives, and the use of a variety of weaponry,” he said, adding that the group uses several encrypted applications to link their global network of propaganda.

“While certain social media platforms have finally prioritized removal and improved their capabilities to get rid of dangerous content, there are still communications platforms such as Telegram and Rocket Chat that allow for ISIS’s online preservation," he said.

The UN report urges world governments to find ways to spy on the Tor network and dark web to detect terror threats, which affirms years-long fears from privacy watchdogs that the internet is being undermined by signals intelligence agencies such as the NSA, which is known to have attempted to deanonymize people on Tor. And in recent weeks, Russian intelligence was revealed to also be trying to deanonymize Tor users.

“The [UN report] recommends that the Committee write to Member States to highlight the terrorist threat associated with dark web markets and vendors, and to encourage Member States that have not done so to establish specialized law enforcement units to detect and investigate dark web crimes and national contact points through which data can be shared and collated among Member States,” said the report.

In addition, the UN report demonstrates that governments are still worried about terrorist groups such as ISIS using cryptocurrencies.

“One Member State monitoring activity on the dark web has observed attempts by terrorists to raise funds [using cryptocurrencies], although it could not be determined whether such activity was related to financial support for (ISIS) or Al-Qaeda,” said the report.

Though much has been made of the potential availability of firearms on darknet forums, the UN said that ISIS isn’t using it for large scale purchases. Instead, there are fears smaller, lone wolves could purchase a small number of weapons to carry out an attack.

“While [the dark web] cannot be regarded as an important source of arms for conflict areas, it poses a risk as a significant source of arms for lone actors and small groups, especially in jurisdictions in which the purchase of arms is otherwise regulated,” said the report.

Yet a number of governments contributing to the UN report noted that while lone wolf and inspired attacks by unofficial members of the terror group cause casualties, ISIS's capabilities to carry out larger attacks have diminished along with its territory because of signals intelligence efforts by authorities to detect and thwart them.

But the UN is clear in the report that as ISIS is rallying on the ground and online there could be be more serious attacks in the near future.

“When it has the time and space to reinvest in an external operations capability, [ISIS] will direct and facilitate international attacks in addition to the [ISIS]-inspired attacks that continue to occur in many locations around the world,” said the report. “The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019.”

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gyzx3j/isis-is-using-internet-propaganda-to-maintain-a-virtual-caliphate-un-report-says

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Shooting Attacks Renew Debate Over Domestic Terrorism in US  

By Sirwan Kajjo

August 6, 2019

WASHINGTON — One of the two recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, is being treated as a case of domestic terrorism by U.S. federal authorities.

The El Paso attack, which has left 22 people dead, has renewed debate over how to combat domestic terrorism in the United States.

The FBI has expressed concerns that such attacks could inspire more homegrown extremists to carry out further violent attacks in the future.

"The FBI remains concerned that U.S.-based domestic violent extremists could become inspired by this weekend's attacks and previous high-profile attacks to engage in similar acts of violence," the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

Domestic terrorism on the rise

Domestic terrorism "has become increasingly more of a threat with the resurgence of white supremacists groups, as well as some acts from left-wing extremists, though these account for much fewer incidents," said Randall Rogan, a terrorism expert at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Peter Bergen, a national security expert and vice president at New America, a Washington-based think tank, says that attacks motivated by far-right extremists have increased in recent years.

"Right-wing terrorism has been around in the United States for a long time, but what's a little bit different in the last couple of years is that we have seen more mass casualty attacks like we saw in El Paso and Pittsburgh (synagogue shooting in 2018)," he told VOA.

According to New America, since the 9/11 terror attacks, terrorists motivated by far-right ideology, including white supremacy, antigovernment and anti-abortion views, have killed 109 people in the U.S. During the same period, 104 people have been killed in the U.S. by homegrown terrorists linked to foreign terror groups, according to the same study.

'Alarming connection'

There is "a very alarming connection between domestic terrorist attacks here in the United States and domestic terrorist attacks abroad," former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe told CNN on Monday. "It's not uncommon to see attackers referencing (other attackers abroad) in their manifesto."

The El Paso shooter, in fact, referenced in his four-page online manifesto the terror attack in New Zealand in March that killed dozens of Muslim worshippers.

"These connections between acts of similar like-minded folks are going to further exacerbate this problem and kind of add fuel to the fire," McCabe added.

Increased cooperation

To tackle domestic terrorism more effectively, experts say the U.S. needs to expand on the work being done by law enforcement agencies to combat right-wing terrorism.

There should be "increased cooperation and collaboration among all law enforcement and Department of Homeland Security and other agencies," Rogan said.

Federal law enforcement officials say they have stepped up their communication level with state and local partners in the wake of this weekend's attacks.

"FBI headquarters is in constant communication with FBI field offices to ensure the threat from domestic terrorism and hate crimes is continually being assessed, and the FBI will continue to share pertinent information with law enforcement partners going forward," an FBI spokesperson said on Monday.

Patriot Act

The Patriot Act, passed in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, defines domestic terrorism as activities on U.S. soil that "involve acts dangerous to human life" and "appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination or kidnapping."

The Patriot Act primarily grants the Justice Department the authority to investigate an individual or a group affiliated with a group that the State Department has listed as a foreign terrorist organization.

According to federal law, in order to be charged with terrorism, a person must be suspected of acting on behalf of one of those listed groups.

"If a far-right organization in Europe was designated as a terrorist group by the State Department, and somebody in this country was in touch with them in some shape or form, then that would allow a prosecution under some kind of terrorism," Bergen told VOA.

There is a federal statute that defines domestic terrorism, but it carries no penalties. Americans who are regarded as domestic terrorists are charged under laws related to hate crimes, guns and conspiracy.

"The challenge is not the laws, but rather the intervention and strategies needed to combat the threat,"  Rogan said.

"For instance, it is a crime to provide support to ISIS.  It's not a crime to provide support to a neo-Nazi group in the United States," analyst Bergen said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Bergen added that IS is a federally designated terrorist organization by the State Department.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch/shooting-attacks-renew-debate-over-domestic-terrorism-us

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US, Pakistan remove restrictions on each other’s diplomats

Anwar Iqbal

August 08, 2019

WASHINGTON: The United States on Wednesday informed Pakistan that it has removed a 25-mile travel ban and other restrictions imposed last year on Pakistani diplomats and diplomatic staff stationed in the country.

Diplomatic observers in Washington told Dawn that Islamabad also has restored the facilities that US diplomats had enjoyed in Pakistan until last year.

The Trump administration imposed these restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in the United States on May 10, 2018 and on May 11, Islamabad imposed similar restrictions on US diplomats in Pakistan.

The two actions had further strained an already tense relationship between the two allies. But during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Washington late last month, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a news briefing that Islamabad has asked Washington to remove those restrictions, which prevent Pakistani diplomats from performing their duties properly.

Under the US restrictions, Pakistani diplomats were banned from moving further than 25 miles from the cities in which they were posted. They were also required to seek permission from the State Department five days in advance if they planned to visit another city.

The Pakistani restrictions also confined US diplomats to certain areas within the city they worked and lived in. Pakistan also withdrew special treatments given to US diplomats at Pakistani airports.

American diplomats were barred from using tinted glass on their vehicles or having diplomatic registration plates on private vehicles. Before renting property, American diplomats were required to obtain a no-objection certificate from Pakistan’s interior ministry.

Diplomatic tensions between the United States and Pakistan heightened in April 2018 when a US diplomat Joseph Emmanuel Hall ran a red light in Islamabad, killing a motorcyclist and injuring a passenger.

Read: US, Pakistan likely to restrict diplomats’ movements

A court in Islamabad ruled that the American diplomat didn’t have the right to absolute immunity and ordered the government to put his name on the exit control list within two weeks. Persons on the list are prohibited from leaving Pakistan.

In January 2018, President Donald Trump used his first tweet of the year to criticise Pakistan, claiming that the US had “foolishly” given military aid to Pakistan, although the country did little to protect US interests in the region.

Relations between the two countries have improved markedly since Prime Minister Khan’s visit to Washington last month.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1498717/us-pakistan-remove-restrictions-on-each-others-diplomats

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Pompeo talks maritime security, Iran with Saudi Crown Prince

8 August 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed maritime security, Iran and Yemen with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a phone call on Wednesday.

“The secretary discussed heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Iran has seized three tanker ships in strategic Arabian Gulf waters in a month, and the United States has accused it of carrying out multiple attacks on ships in the region.

The US has been struggling to piece together an international coalition to protect cargo ships travelling through the Gulf, with allies concerned about being dragged into conflict with Iran.

Ortagus also said that the top US diplomat and the crown prince “discussed other bilateral and regional developments, including countering the Iranian regime’s destabilizing activities.”

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have soared since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal with Iran last year and imposed punishing sanctions.

Twelve months on from the US withdrawal, Iran responded by suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Iran meanwhile shot down an American drone in June, with Trump saying he called off retaliatory air strikes at the last minute, and the United States says it has since downed one and possibly two of Tehran’s unmanned aircraft, which Iran has denied.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/08/08/Pompeo-talks-maritime-security-Iran-with-Saudi-Crown-Prince.html

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Pompeo talks maritime security, Iran with Saudi crown prince

Aug 8, 2019

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed maritime security, Iran and Yemen with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a phone call on Wednesday.

"The secretary discussed heightened tensions in the region and the need for stronger maritime security in order to promote freedom of navigation," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Iran has seized three tanker ships in strategic Gulf waters in less than a month, and the United States has accused it of carrying out multiple attacks on ships in the region.

The US has been struggling to piece together an international coalition to protect cargo ships travelling through the Gulf, with allies concerned about being dragged into conflict with Iran.

Ortagus also said that the top US diplomat and the crown prince "discussed other bilateral and regional developments, including countering the Iranian regime's destabilizing activities."

Tensions between Washington and Tehran -- Saudi Arabia's arch foe -- have soared since US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of a nuclear deal with Iran last year and imposed punishing sanctions.

Twelve months on from the US withdrawal, Iran responded by suspending some of its commitments under the nuclear deal.

Iran meanwhile shot down an American drone in June, with Trump saying he called off retaliatory air strikes at the last minute, and the United States says it has since downed one and possibly two of Tehran's unmanned aircraft, which the Islamic republic has denied.

On Yemen, "the secretary and the crown prince reaffirmed their strong support for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths' efforts to advance the peace process," Ortagus said.

Saudi Arabia is locked in a bloody war in the country against the Iran-backed Huthis, a conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/pompeo-talks-maritime-security-iran-with-saudi-crown-prince/articleshow/70582268.cms

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US, Turkey agree to form joint operation center for Syria safe zone

Aug 7, 2019

Turkey and the United States have reached an agreement on the establishment of a joint operation center in the northern part of Syria, in the wake of Ankara’s threats to launch an operation against the US-sponsored Kurdish militants to push them away from the Turkish border.

“Talks between Turkish and the US military delegations regarding establishment of a safe zone in the north of Syria were concluded,” the Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The delegations agreed on the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns, to set up as soon as possible a joint operations center in Turkey to coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together and that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and that any additional measures shall be taken for our displaced Syrian brothers to return to their country,” the statement added.

Earlier, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had said that talks with the United States aimed at averting a Turkish military intervention into northern Syria had been “positive.”

“We witnessed with satisfaction that our partners grew closer to our position. The meetings were positive and quite constructive,” Akar said on Tuesday.

On the same day, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey's determination to eliminate the presence of the YPG, which forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from areas bordering Turkey in northern Syria.

Turkey views the YPG as the Syria branch of the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group.

The PKK has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

“We will move the process which we started with the Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations to a different phase very soon,” Erdogan said at the 11th annual Ambassadors' Conference in the capital Ankara.

He was referring to the two military offensives Ankara launched in 2016 and 2017 against the Kurdish militants.

“Turkey has the right to eliminate all threats against its national security,” the Turkish president noted.

Erdogan said his country would have to pay a heavy price if it fails to take what it describes as necessary measures in northern Syria, adding, “Drying up the terrorist swamp in northern Syria is our top priority.”

Turkey expects the creation of a 32-kilometer (20-mile) safe zone in northern Syria, and has stressed that it wants the YPG cleared from the region.

The United States has been arming and training Kurdish militants under the banner of helping them fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, but Syria and several other countries see ulterior motives behind the deployment.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/08/07/602945/Turkey-US-agree-to-form-joint-operation-center-for-Syria-safe-zone

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US-led coalition to boost size of Syrian partner forces

Beyza Binnur Donmez

07.08.2019

The U.S.-led coalition is planning to increase the overall size of its Syrian partner forces by 10% to prevent the resurgence of Daesh in previously cleared areas of northeastern Syria, according to the Pentagon’s inspector general report released Tuesday.

The partial withdrawal of U.S. troops has "decreased the support available" for the Syrian partner forces "at a time when their forces need more training and equipping" to respond to Daesh, the report said.

It noted that Daesh has established "resurgent cells" in areas controlled by Syrian partner forces.

"While Syrian forces carried out clearance operations in northeastern Syria to eliminate these cells, CJTF-OIR reported that U.S.-backed Syrian forces also have limited capacity to hold liberated areas," it said, referring to the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Underlining that the current strength of the main partner forces in the area are around 100,000, the report said CJTF-OIR's desired strength is 110,000, consisting of 30,000 Syrian Democratic Forces, 45,000 Provincial Internal Security Forces and 35,000 Internal Security Forces.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops from Syria in December, claiming they had defeated Daesh, their only reason for intervening in the country.

Amid pushback from within his administration and from key U.S. lawmakers, Trump later signaled a "slow and highly coordinated pullout" from the war-torn country.

The PKK's Syrian branch YPG has managed to occupy one-third of Syria under the guise of fighting against Daesh with the support of the U.S.

The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years, resulting in the deaths of nearly 40,000 people.

The U.S., which considers the PKK a terrorist organization, changed the YPG’s name to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in July 2017 in order to dissociate it with the PKK.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-led-coalition-to-boost-size-of-syrian-partner-forces/1551324

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US and Turkey agree to establish joint centre to work on Syria safe zone

Joyce Karam

Aug 7, 2019

The US and Turkey on Wednesday agreed to establish a joint operations centre as soon as possible to co-ordinate a safe zone in Syria's north-east.

The breakthrough came after two days of talks clouded by warnings and threats of a Turkish incursion into Syria to drive Kurdish troops away from its border.

Washington on Tuesday issued a blunt warning to Ankara against moving into the area, which would have put the two countries on a collision path.

The Kurdish YPG troops were America's most effective allies in its battle against ISIS in Syria.

In the document, issued in Turkish and English, three points of agreement were announced, which included setting up the operations centre. Last month, the US and Turkey formed a working group on the issue.

US Embassy Turkey

@USEmbassyTurkey

Statement on Joint Military Talks Regarding Syria: http://ow.ly/5edO50vqHYb

View image on Twitter

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The two sides agreed on “the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns" and "to set up a joint operations centre in Turkey as soon as possible to co-ordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone".

The third point was “that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and every effort shall be made so that displaced Syrians can return to their country".

They did not detail the size of the zone, one of the issues on which Ankara and Washington have disagreed over the past five years.

Turkey has insisted on a 32-kilometre deep zone, while the US has reportedly proposed 12km.

There was also no mention in the statement of how security would be supervised in the proposed area.

US officials had objected to Turkey alone overseeing the zone but failed to convince European and international monitors to take on the mission.

“Details in the statement are vague and deep disagreement undoubtedly remains,” said Nicholas Danforth, of the German Marshall Fund.

But Mr Danforth said that the release of the statement was a positive development and that the US might have succeeded in halting a Turkish military operation for the moment.

“The vagueness of the official statement suggests both sides have agreed to kick the can down the road a little bit further for now,” he said.

Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in the US, tweeted that the statement showed failure by the US and Turkey to compromise “over depth, control and rules of engagement".

Aaron Stein

@aaronstein1

The US and Turkey fail to compromise over depth, control, ROE, implementation, despite issuance of a joint statement to buy time because Ankara remains concerned about accidentally killing Americans.

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Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/us-and-turkey-agree-to-establish-joint-centre-to-work-on-syria-safe-zone-1.895703

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