men and a girl pose for a "selfie" photograph with a cutout image of
Pope Francis, days ahead of his visit to the United Arab Emirates, at St Mary's
Catholic Church in Dubai on January 30, 2019. PHOTO | GIUSEPPE CACACE |
Says ‘Happy To Write New Page in History’ With UAE Visit
Death Row Prisoner Seeks Stay after Being Denied Imam In Chamber in Alabama
Talaq Bill Aimed At Liberating Muslim Women from Life of Fear: President of
Protest after SC’s Final Decision in Aasia’s Case Termed A Milestone
Prime Minister Says No To Anti-Islamophobia Day
Army Says Will Not Allow State to Collapse Amid Protest
China's Surveillance Of Muslim Uighurs
Agree Plan to Open More Cinemas in Kingdom
Carey wows fans in Saudi Arabia with her first concert in the Kingdom
Visit Sends 'A Message of Love and Peace,' Says Syriac Archbishop
Forces Plotting to Occupy Energy Zone in Western Iraq
Asked to Transfer ISIL from Eastern Euphrates to Turkey, Idlib
babies dying from cold at camp in northeast Syria
admits ‘may have killed’ as many as 18 civilians in Mosul raid
UN envoy says anti-Damascus sanctions amount to 'economic terrorism'
Helmets preparing to film false flag chemical attacks in Idlib: Russia
Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan hold Arab security talks
Party Founder Exposes 'Islamist Infiltration' Into Politics
Dutch politicians request protection for mosques
invites Taliban, anti-govt leaders for talks
France, Britain to launch mechanism for trade with Iran
are losing a generation of children in Yemen: UNICEF
sought fresh ban on Students Islamic Movement of India
JeM militants killed in Kashmir’s Pulwama
Five civilians, two CRPF jawans injured in grenade attack by militants
groups call for impartial probe, ban on terror sites
Help Assured To Militants Surrendering Arms in Balochistan
British Sex Offender Held in Pakistan
summons Indian high commissioner
Haq demands formation of judicial commission on Sahiwal incident
approves 63pc increase in Haj cost
out-of-school children identified for enrolment in schools
‘regional actors’ out to ruin Pak efforts for Afghan peace: FO
leader Schumer asks US spy chiefs to ‘educate’ Trump on Iran
continues to lose control over area, people: US report
troops to leave Afghanistan if peace deal reached with Taliban: Trump
Senate rejects Donald Trump’s rushed withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan
Arabia, allies meet in Jordan to coordinate policy on regional issues
preacher stabbed, injured in Mali’s capital
says airstrike kills 24 al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia
effort brings little relief for migrants trapped in Libya
Committed To Making Malaysia Shariah-Compliant Model Country
students pursuing social work receive awards from Muis
calls for ‘harmony’ before talks with Qatar
Aceh whips teens for public cuddling
heed of Malay disapproval, DPM reminds Pakatan govt
bombing suspected in Philippine attack
World League condemns twin bombings in the Philippines
Government Has the Key for Peace, Reconciliation: Ashraf Ghani
Taliban militants, 1 ISIS-K member renounce violence in Nangarhar
comments on peace process anger Pakistan
seeks US help for Rohingya repatriation
of Rohingya children in the world’s largest refugee settlement are going
without an education
report reveals new human rights abuses in Myanmar
militants suffer casualties in NDS Special Forces raid in Kunduz
Muscled Out: Israeli Mosque Fires Bodybuilder
Integrating Terrorist Groups in Idlib
European officials worried over Hebron monitoring
won’t be part of any new puppet Palestinian govt.: Official
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Francis said he was looking to write a new page in the history of relations
between religions with his visit to the United Arab Emirates from Sunday.
am happy ... to write on your dear land a new page in the relations between religions,
confirming that we are brothers although different,” he said in a video message
to the Emirati people released Thursday.
the message, in Italian but also dubbed into Arabic, the pope thanked Abu Dhabi
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan for his invitation to
participate in an interfaith meeting on “human fraternity” from February 3 to
said the visit would give him the opportunity to again see “friend and dear
brother” Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim authority,
whom he met on a visit in 2017.
has made boosting ties between Christianity and Islam a cornerstone of his
papacy. The pope said he believes the interfaith meeting reflects “the courage
and willingness to affirm that faith in God unites rather than divides, brings
together despite differences, and turns away from hostility and aversion”.
also said the United Arab Emirates was “a land that seeks to be a model of
coexistence, human fraternity and the meeting of diverse civilizations and
cultures, where many find a safe place to work and live freely in the respect
look forward to meeting a people who live in the present with their eyes on the
future,” he added.
UAE prides itself on its religious tolerance and cultural diversity, and most
Gulf Arab states have long allowed Christians to worship in churches.
80 percent of the population of the UAE is Muslim, while Christians constitute
around nine percent, according to the Catholic News Agency.
of the Catholics are workers from Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and the
Philippines, though some are locals.
Muslim death row prisoner is seeking a stay of execution because he is being
denied the presence of an imam while he is administered a lethal injection.
Ray, who is due to be executed in Alabama next Thursday for the murder of
teenage girl in 1995, has been told that only the prison chaplain, a Christian,
is allowed to be present in the execution chamber.
papers filed at a district court in Alabama, Ray’s lawyers argued that the
prisoner’s right to free exercise of religion was being violated.
papers said the prison warden refused Ray’s request for an imam to take the
place of the chaplain and subsequently refused a request for the chaplain not
to be present at the time of execution.
who is described as a “devout Muslim” in the court papers, was convicted in
1999 of the murder of Tiffany Harville, 15, four years earlier. Her decomposing
body was found in a field a month after she disappeared.
co-defendant in the trial testified that Ray had cut the girl’s throat after
the pair raped her, although there was no physical evidence linking Ray to the
September 2017, medical records of Ray’s co-defendant were released, showing he
had schizophrenia and was suffering from misperceptions of reality, auditory
hallucinations and religious delusions at the time of his interrogation and
row prisoners in Alabama are permitted to have “contact visits”, without
barriers, with pre-approved family, friends, attorneys and spiritual advisers
in the days running up to their scheduled execution. But only the prison
chaplain is permitted to be present in the chamber while the execution is
lawyers have argued that the prisoner will be executed under “conditions that
substantially burden the exercise of his religious belief” and violate the
is no compelling governmental interest in preventing a condemned inmate from
having his or her spiritual adviser – who has been approved to have a contact
visit with the condemned inmate in the death watch cell steps away from the
execution chamber and moments before the execution begins – from taking the
place of the prison chaplain in the execution chamber,” the court documents
chaplain’s “mandatory presence in the execution chamber can serve only one
interest – an unconstitutional one – safeguarding the soul or spiritual health
of the condemned inmate in the Christian belief system”.
chaplain’s presence has “the principle or primary effect of advancing Christian
religion and inhibiting all other religions”.
spokesperson for the department of corrections, said a security protocol “only
allows approved correctional officials, that includes the prison’s chaplain, to
be inside the chamber where executions are lawfully carried out.
inmate is given the right to visit with his spiritual advisor beforehand and
the advisor may witness the execution from a designated witness room that has a
two-way window. As a concession, the [department] will waive the presence of
the prison chaplain in the chamber during the execution.”
lawyers want his execution stayed to give the court time to consider the case.
Ray is scheduled to be killed by lethal injection at Holman correctional
facility near Atmore, Alabama, at 6pm on Thursday.
DELHI: The triple talaq bill is aimed at liberating Muslim women from a
"life of fear", President Ram Nath Kovind said Thursday.
a joint sitting of both houses of Parliament at the beginning of the Budget
session, he said the government is "striving hard" to get the bill
passed by Parliament.
a view to liberate our Muslim daughters from a life of fear and anxiety and to
provide them with equal right to lead their lives at par with other daughters,
my government is striving hard to get the triple talaq bill passed by
Parliament," he said.
December last year, a fresh bill, to make the practice of triple talaq among
Muslims a penal offence was introduced in Lok Sabha to replace an ordinance
issued in September.
the proposed law, giving instant triple talaq will be illegal and void and will
attract a jail term of three years for the husband.
Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018 has superseded an
earlier bill passed in the Lok Sabha and pending in Rajya Sabha.
earlier bill was approved by the Lower House. But amid opposition by some
parties in the Upper House, the government had cleared some amendments,
including introduction of a provision of bail, to make it more palatable.
as the bill continued to face resistance in Rajya Sabha, the government issued
an ordinance in September, incorporating amendments.
ordinance was repromulgated recently as the first one was about to expire.
government has maintained that despite the Supreme Court striking down the
practice of talaq-e-biddat (instant triple talaq) as unconstitutional, men were
divorcing their wives on flimsy grounds and even via WhatsApp.
opposition has said that divorce cannot be made a penal offence and the provisions
of the bill were against basic principles of the Constitution.
the proposed law makes it a 'non-bailable' offence, an accused can approach a
magistrate even before the trial to seek bail. In a non-bailable offence, bail
cannot be granted by police at the police station.
provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail 'after hearing
magistrate would ensure that bail is granted only after the husband agrees to
grant compensation to the wife as provided in the bill. The quantum of
compensation will be decided by the magistrate, as per the bill.
police would lodge an FIR only if approached by the victim (wife), her blood
relations or people who become her relatives by virtue of marriage. Neighbours
and others cannot lodge a complaint under the proposed law.
offence of instant triple talaq will be 'compoundable'. Now, a magistrate can
use his powers to settle the dispute between a husband and his wife. This will
happen only when the wife approaches the court.
a compoundable offence, both parties have the liberty of withdrawing the case.
proposed law would only be applicable on instant triple talaq or
'talaq-e-biddat' and it would give power to the victim to approach a magistrate
seeking 'subsistence allowance' for herself and minor children. A woman can
also seek the custody of her minor children from the magistrate who will take a
final call on the issue.
protest after SC’s final decision in Aasia’s case termed a milestone
Politicians from the governing and opposition parties on Thursday said Aasia
Bibi’s acquittal in a blasphemy case was a milestone in Pakistan’s history, as
was the absence of any prominent protests against the decision.
the ‘Dialogue between Youth and Parliamentarians on Democratic and Peaceful
Governance and Sustainable Development in Pakistan’ organised by the Pakistan
Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) and the United
Nations Development Programme, speakers also said the time had come to look
into where they had made mistakes.
Secretary for Planning MNA Kanwal Shauzab from the PTI said at the event that
the absence of protests was due to improved management and social media
knows what happened three months back [when Aasia Bibi was first acquitted by
the Supreme Court]. But after that, monitoring of social media was increased
and hate speech was topped. Immediate action was taken against those who were
inciting people,” she said.
Shauzab said society had been radicalised and become polarised, so it would
take time to eradicate the issue completely.
I suggest that people should not forward provocative messages on social media
and also discourage such messaging. As Aasia has been acquitted, we should look
into where we went wrong,” she added.
discussing provocative remarks against other countries in the educational
curriculum, she said these countries were previously considered enemies but
such things would improve following decisions such as that to open the
Mehnaz Akbar Aziz from the PML-N said it was a milestone for Pakistan that
Aasia Bibi was acquitted.
Kishwer Zahra from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement told participants that she
moved two bills, one against extremism and one to upgrade volunteer units such
as the girls guide, but they were not passed.
suggest the ulema should be pushed to play a role to bring peace in society,
and their speeches should also be checked,” she said.
ban on student unions should be lifted so the youth can be involved in
political activities, Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam-Fazl MNA Shahida Akhtar Ali added.
Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said the war against terrorism has affected all of
society and there is frustration among the youth.
he said, development would boost society and the China Pakistan Economic
Corridor (CPEC) will create economic opportunity.
Qaiser said there are 96 young parliamentarians whom he will connect with the
Assistant to the Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Usman Dar said that although
the youth is a devolved subject, he will play his role for their economic
during the last 71 years, especially in the last 10 years, policies were not
made for the youth. We are not only making efforts to increase job
opportunities but the curriculum would also be changed as the current
curriculum does not match market requirements,” he said.
added that “we are considering allocating seats for the youth in parliament”.
Mushtaq Ahmed from the Jamaat-i-Islami said that although the youth is a major
asset to the country, CPEC and other projects are discussed more often than the
youth. However, he praised the proposal for a youth quota in parliament, but
said “it should be ensured that youngsters from political families are not
nominated to those seats”.
the dialogue, Pildat President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob said Pildat and the UNDEP
have joined hands to encourage youth engagement with political parties in
government and opposition.
also praised the UNDP Human Development Report: Unleashing the Potential of a
Young Pakistan, which identified education, employment and engagement as the
key requirements of Pakistani’s youth population.
Pakistan resident representative Ignacio Artaza said: “Youth are the drivers of
economic, social, cultural, institutional and political change. As such, their
voices must be listened to.”
Resident Coordinator Pakistan Neil Buhne said: “So much of Pakistan’s
development is dependent on the youth of the country. There is a need for
systematic youth-centric solutions to development challenges.”
prime minister says no to anti-Islamophobia day
far-right prime minister of Canada’s province of Quebec has ruled out naming a
national day against Islamophobia in a move slammed as “absolute insult” to
victims of a deadly mosque attack two years ago.
Minister Francois Legault, who was elected to the post late last year, said on
Thursday that he was opposed to devoting a day to act against anti-Muslim hate
crimes, because he doesn't believe Islamophobia is a problem in his province.
don't think there is Islamophobia in Quebec. So I don't see why there would be
a day dedicated to Islamophobia," he said.
made the remarks only two days after the second anniversary of a deadly attack
against the Islamic Cultural Center, which claimed the lives of six people in
Quebec City on January 29, 2017.
the day of the anniversary on Tuesday, Legault’s deputy Premier Genevieve
Guilbault appeared open to the idea of naming a day to counter Islamophobia,
but the prime minster said, "We looked at it, and there won't be any,
has prompted reaction from rights groups, including National Council of
Canadian Muslims (NCCM), which described Legault's comments as “an absolute
director of NCCM, Ihsan Gardee, said the remarks “are an absolute insult to the
families of the victims and to Muslim communities in Quebec and across Canada
who continue to grieve this tragedy.”
Legault is clearly out of touch with the realities of Islamophobia on the
ground in Quebec,” he said.
Premier should immediately retract and apologize for his highly offensive and
inaccurate comments and acknowledge that Islamophobia, just like other forms of
hatred and racism, exists in Quebec and must be addressed.”
council, a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, was among many
other Muslim community groups which put forward the idea of naming a day
had written an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in
November, calling on him to designate January 29 as a National Day of Action
against Hate and Intolerance.
the letter, NCCM described the mosque attack as “the most horrific large-scale
expression of the kind of Islamophobia that too many Canadian Muslims face
the mosque attack, the Trudeau government proposed a symbolic motion which
called on the government to condemn Islamophobia.
groups, however, immediately expressed their opposition, with white supremacist
groups staging rallies across the country.
shows Quebec saw a surge in hate crimes in 2017, Statistics Canada released its
annual hate crimes data on Thursday.
agency concluded that hate crimes almost tripled from 41 reported incidents in
2016 to 117 on 2017 in Quebec. The incidents even increase in February, the
month after the deadly mosque attack.
police received 2,073 hate-crime reports only in 2017, an increase of 664 from
2016. The increases were largely in Ontario and Quebec.
army says will not allow state to collapse amid protest
army said on Wednesday it will not allow the state to collapse amid nationwide
protests, as the defense minister warned of a “plot” to trigger insecurity in
the African nation.
protests have rocked Sudan for weeks now, with protesters calling for an end to
President Omar al-Bashir’s three-decade-old rule.
protests were initially triggered by a government decision to triple the price
of bread, but have mushroomed into nationwide anti-government rallies.
army’s chief of staff, Kamal Abdelmarouf, said on Wednesday the armed forces
were ready to face those who destabilized the security of the Sudanese people.
will not allow the Sudanese state to collapse or fall into chaos,” he said in a
meeting with top military officers in Khartoum, according to a statement issued
by the army.
Tuesday, similar warnings were issued by Abdelmarouf’s deputy, Essameddine
Mubarak, who said that the forces were ready to face any threat to the country.
years, anger has been mounting across Sudan over growing economic hardships and
deteriorating living conditions driven by soaring inflation and shortage of
the defense minister blamed the recent protests on an unspecified plot.
armed forces are aware of a plot to use the economic situation for triggering
insecurity in the country,” Defense Minister Awad Ibnouf said in the military
nationwide rallies, Bashir has refused to step down and blamed violence at
demonstrations on “infiltrators” among the demonstrators.
claims regarding toll
say 30 people have died in protest-related violence since the demonstrations
began on December 19, while rights groups say more than 40 people have been
on Wednesday, professors and lecturers from the University of Khartoum held a
sit-in protest on campus against Bashir’s government.
than 300 professors and lecturers of the university held a sit-in today inside
the campus,” Mamduh al-Hassan, a spokesman for the group told AFP.
said that 531 university staff members had signed a “Khartoum University
Professors’ Initiative” listing a series of demands.
main demand is that a transitional government be formed in Sudan,” Hassan said,
echoing the demand of protesters on the streets calling for an end to Bashir’s
current protest movement has been led by the Sudanese Professionals’
Association, an umbrella group of teachers, doctors and engineers.
say the movement has emerged as the biggest challenge yet to Bashir’s rule.
China's surveillance of Muslim Uighurs
Turkey - The Turkish coal-mining town of Zonguldak seems an unlikely place to
meet a man who says he's a Chinese spy, but it's here where Yusuf Amat arranged
to meet us.
in the lobby of a hotel overlooking the Black Sea, waiting for him to arrive, I
wonder what kind of person would agree to inform on neighbours, friends and
even family for a government accused by rights groups of carrying out a brutal
campaign of mass arrests and detention.
Amat walks in through the glass door, I almost miss him. Wearing grey overalls,
a grey cotton-knit hat and a grey bulky jacket, everything about him - from his
clothes to his mannerisms - is unremarkable.
hao (hello)," Amat says softly, greeting me in Mandarin as he casts his
eyes down and gently shakes my hand.
for being late, I just finished my shift at the gas station and had to take a
few buses to get here."
is Uighur. A Muslim ethnic-minority group in China, Uighurs have been the
target of a major crackdown by the government in Beijing. A United Nations
human rights panel says this has led to up to a million people being
imprisoned, in what the Chinese call "reeducation centres".
role," Amat explains,"was to feed information to officials".
reported on everything people did - what they ate, drank, what they did in
private in their homes, whether it was friends or relatives, I shared it
says his information was sent to authorities.
upsets Amat, he says, is that the officials often imprisoned people for
"harmless and inconsequential" reasons.
could have a long beard or some religious text on your phone, or maybe you
studied abroad or had a long-distance phone call with someone overseas. It
could all land you in detention."
says he began spying in 2012 because officials arrested and tortured his
mother, threatening to keep her in detention unless he agreed to work for them.
when I was young, I always told myself I would protect my mum. But I didn't do
it. When they took me to see her, my heart was so pained."
says his handler sent him to also spy abroad, as part of China's expanding
global network of surveillance. From 2012 to 2018, Amat says he was told to
infiltrate Uighur communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey. He says Beijing
has "countless" informants around the world.
from the small town of Karamay and I'm just one of many my handler deals with.
There are dozens of towns the same size throughout Xinjiang, not to mention big
cities. And then there are the international operations. So you can imagine how
many eyes are out there."
Amat says China is getting bolder on the international front, claiming
government operatives have abducted Uighurs abroad.
back in China, he says, many disappear into the reeducation centres.
government denies Uighurs are being arrested arbitrarily and held against their
will and says these are "voluntary" vocational training facilities,
designed to provide job training and to stamp out "extremist"
says the government is "outright lying" and he himself spent a year
and a half in a detention centre, having been arrested for trying to fly to the
Middle East and join Muslim fighters.
was while he was serving his sentence that he says authorities recruited him. Once
he agreed to be an informant, Amat says he was given the job of cleaning the
rounds gave him access to many areas of the centre.
seen many people being beaten in interrogations inside. At times they used bare
electrical cords - which inflict pain beyond what you can imagine. Those who
were beaten made horrible shrieks, especially the young ladies my age. What I
can't forget is the blood - human blood on the floor, on the walls, everywhere,
Jazeera spoke to more than a dozen former detainees. Many confirm they either
witnessed or were themselves tortured and abused in these centres.
Ayup, a teacher and writer, spent 15 months in three facilities in Urumqi, the
capital of Xinjiang province. On the day of his arrest, he says police officers
allegedly took him to a holding cell and raped him.
first day was very bad," says Ayup.
stripped me of my clothes, slapped my buttocks and then they abused me ... more
than 20 Chinese guys. The next day, police asked me, 'One day, if you guys are
in power, what will you do to us?' I said, 'Look, I'm a human being, I'm not an
animal like you'."
says in the months that followed, he was regularly beaten by other inmates.
Prison guards ignored his calls for help, he adds.
want you to be tortured like this. If you're tortured a lot, it’s easier for
you to cooperate with them during the interrogation."
says the rape and beatings were orchestrated to get him to admit to being a
separatist or a "terrorist".
am a teacher, I am a scholar. I have never thought about these things. I am not
a separatist. I am not a terrorist. What do I have to confess?" he asks.
was jailed for raising money for Uighur schools after Chinese authorities made
it illegal for children to learn the Uighur language.
want to delete Uighur. They want Uighurs to believe the Chinese Communist Party
is God," Ayup says.
being released, Ayup says he feared he would be locked up again, so he fled
with his family to Turkey. Uighurs share a long history with the country and
thousands have settled there in the last decade.
Istanbul, Ayup has been documenting the stories of Uighur detainees.
of those is Gulbakhar Jaliloua.
takes us to meet her at a safe house in the city. Sitting on a couch, she
begins to sob uncontrollably as she recounts her experience.
was held for one year, three months, 10 days ... I counted every single hour and minute. An
hour felt like a year," she says.
says she was arrested in Xinjiang while picking up a shipment for her clothing
business. What baffles her about the arrest is that she isn't even a Chinese
citizen. When she told authorities she was from Kazakhstan, they simply hid her
identity, Jaliloua says.
gave me a Chinese name and Chinese ID number so the Kazakhstan embassy couldn't
recounts how she was crammed into a small cell with up to 35 other women, and
then subjected to terrifying interrogations that sometimes lasted 24
put a black hood on my head, and handcuffs and chains … I couldn't walk fast
with the leg cuffs, so they kept pushing me. When I fell down, they dragged me
to the interrogation room."
says she and other Muslim inmates were not allowed to pray and they lived in
constant fear they would be punished if found to be secretly doing so.
detention, she lost 30kg but says her treatment was better than that meted out
to Chinese Uighurs.
was this young woman named Patigul … One day, she came back with her hair all
messed up ... She showed me the right side of her head. It was swollen and
bleeding … after a heavy beating."
officials categorically deny accusations of abuse and ignore growing
international calls to shut down the "reeducation" centres.
government says it will allow UN officials to visit the facilities, so long as
they "abide by Chinese law … avoid interfering in domestic matters … and
instead, take on a neutral and objective attitude".
says it is no longer possible for him to stay silent on the treatment of his
thinks what they're doing is right, but they're wrong," he says.
"Yes, every country has their own laws, but there is also a universal
international standard. And in my eyes, they're seriously violating this
standard. Uighurs don't have a right to our own freedom, to live the way we
confesses he's been consumed with guilt for informing on fellow Uighurs.
like a painful needing stabbing into me every time."
asked him why he's decided to share this information now. Amat says he longer
has much to lose. Most of his family have been placed in centres, in part, he
says, because of his spying.
sister, my mother and my brother-in-law, his brothers, their parents, my uncle
… they're all in jail. They're all in
says he moved to Zonguldak because few Uighurs live in the town, making it
harder for Chinese officials to ask him to spy.
that he's spoken to media, he says it's likely he'll face retribution.
he says he's ready.
is not just about my immediate family, this is about taking a stand for every
Uighur. They're all my family. My own life doesn't matter. Whatever happens,
happens. I've lived enough."
agree plan to open more cinemas in Kingdom
A partnership agreement to open more cinemas in Saudi Arabia has been signed by
bin Nasser Al-Dawoud, chairman of the Saudi Entertainment Ventures Co. (SEVEN),
and Fouad Al-Rashed, CEO of Asala Holding Co., on Thursday put pen to paper on
a deal to establish new AMC cinemas in several Saudi cities.
agreement is part of SEVEN’s strategy to develop and operate 50 movie theaters
throughout the Kingdom over the coming years.
a unit of the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to drive the Saudi
entertainment industry forward through its other strategic sectors,
particularly leisure parks.
estate firm Hamat Property Co., the operating arm of Asala Holding Co.,
specializes in the ownership, development and management of shopping centers
and commercial properties. The company’s portfolio includes 25 operating
shopping malls in the Kingdom.
recently announced the launch of its first family-friendly entertainment
complex, in Riyadh.
ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY: Mariah Carey took the stage in Saudi Arabia on Thursday
to become the highest profile international artist to perform in the Kingdom
since the easing of restrictions on entertainment.
so happy to see you guys all together tonight," the superstar told an
exuberant crowd at the Bay La Sun resort in King Abdullah Economic City.
then launched into a string of her hits including "Love Takes Time,"
and "Make it Happen."
a full length black sequined dress, Carey dedicated the song "Always Be My
Baby," to the crowd.
flocked to the concert to see Carey become the first female international
artist to perform in the Kingdom since social reforms removed restrictions on
entertainment and segregation of the sexes.
of her performance, fans told Arab News of their excitement at seeing the star
Mulla, 21, said it was his first time seeing a concert in the Kingdom.
just like to enjoy it as much as I can,” he told Arab News as he waited
excitedly outside the venue.
gathered at the event before she arrived and the mood was joyful and full of
anticipation. The crowd included a mix of Saudis and foreigners, with quite a
few in their 40s and above. For many it was their first concert experience.
Carey performed one of her classic hits "Fantasy" the crowd erupted,
singing along. The mixed crowd cheered and danced with many holding their
smartphones in the air.
came to encourage more artists to come to Saudi Arabia and celebrate,"
said 22 year-old Hamza Gamaraldin. "We’re all big fans of pop music and as
we’re huge fans of her music, I came to support her too.”
a legend. We love Mariah and we thank her for coming to Saudi! I feel good and
more encouraged about the future of Saudi Arabia, I’m encouraging it to be more
improved and more open to foreigners.”
Carey said her concert was a positive step towards the dissolution of gender
with the offer to perform for an international and mixed gender audience in
Saudi Arabia, Mariah accepted the opportunity as a positive step towards the
dissolution of gender segregation," Carey's publicists told The Associated
the first female international artist to perform in Saudi Arabia, Mariah
recognizes the cultural significance of this event and will continue to support
global efforts towards equality for all," the publicists added.
Dash warmed up the crowd before Carey took to the stage while Dutch DJ Tiesto
was set to perform after Carey had finished.
a 29 year old Lebanese man who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, said that
he was attending to see DJ Tiesto rather than Mariah Carey, and that “it's a
great performance so far, it's just nice to see in Saudi.”
added that it is the first time he has seen “something like this. I hope she
comes again, and other artists.”
concert is taking place at the Kingdom's first major international golf
tournament. Part of the European Tour, the inaugural Saudi International,
powered by SBIA, has drawn several of golf's biggest stars.
visit sends 'a message of love and peace,' says Syriac Archbishop
the United Arab Emirates welcomes Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church,
next week, it sends "a message of love and peace to the entire
world," according to the head of the Syriac Orthodox Church in the UAE.
visit shows that the UAE embraces pluralism and diversity within its community
and is the ideal place to host a meeting of civilisations and religions,"
Archbishop Mor Bartholomaeus Nathaniel Youssef told the Emirates News Agency,
Archbishop is head of the Patriarchal Vicariate for the UAE and the Arab states
of the Gulf of the Syriac Orthodox Patrriarchate of Antioch and All the East,
one of the Oriental Orthodox churches.
visit by Pope Francis, he said, "is very important and has many
dimensions. It would not be taking place if both the visitor and his hosts did
not share the spirit of tolerance, compassion and acceptance, regardless of
underlying message of the visit, he added, "is that religions seek to
serve mankind and to advance it, not to harm it."
to the declaration of 2019 as the Year of Tolerance in the UAE, Archbishop
Bartholomaeus noted that "this country has always taken this approach for
many centuries, long before the establishment of the federation in 1971. Its
history is full of examples of peaceful co-existence between Christians and
Muslims, as shown by the discovery of a 7th Century AD Syriac monastery on Sir
Bani Yas island. This shows that people of both faiths have always lived here
invitation extended to the Pope by the UAE, he continued, provides a way
"to highlight its message as a tolerant country, which is home to many
cultures, religions and sects. It will help to correct the wrong perceptions
about moderate Islam, which rejects all extremist ideas."
is particularly important, he noted, "in the light of the growing
Islamophobia in some Western communities towards Arab and Islamic
Archbishop went on to express the hope that the visit by Pope Francis will help
to draw attention to what he described as "the barbaric practices"
from which Christians have suffered in parts of the Arab world, as a result of
the actions of extremist groups such as Daesh.
is a dark part of our history that will never be erased. History will also
remember those who supported them and stood by them in the face of evil,"
small, numbering around 5,000 families, the Syriac Orthodox community in the
UAE is diverse in origin. It dates back to the late 1960s, when many
Malayalam-speaking Syriac Christian families came from Kerala, India.
Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website quoted a source at al-Anbar
provincial council as saying on Thursday that the US forces, supported by
combat helicopters, carried out reconnaissance operations in Okaz oil and gas
field in Western al-Anbar without coordination and agreement with Iraqi
Hameed Al-Hayes, the head of the al-Anbar Salvation Council, had warned that
the Americans had established military bases near Okaz in the town of al-Qa'em
in Western al-Anbar to take control over the gas field.
sources reported earlier this month that the US army was searching for new
locations to establish military bases in the two towns of al-Ramadi and
Fallujah in al-Anbar province.
Arabic-language al-Maloumeh news website quoted an Iraqi security source as
saying that a number of US military advisors along with army forces traveled to
the 'Military Farm' region in Eastern Fallujah to find a location for their new
added that the US forces have located a number of positions in different parts
of al-Ramadi, and said that they want to set up new bases in the province.
Arabic-language al-Hal news website affiliated to the militants quoted SDF
commander Ahmed al-Sultan as saying that the ISIL has demanded the Kurds to set
up a safe corridor for them to move to Turkey or Idlib and Jabal Turkman in
claimed that the SDF has rejected the ISIL demand.
the Arabic-language Stepnews website, also affiliated to the militants in
Syria, reported on Wednesday that the SDF and ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur have
secretly agreed on a ceasefire.
on reports, the ISIL is surrounded in a 6sq/km region in Southeastern Deir
Ezzur in Eastern Euphrates.
this week, the ISIL occupied a new region in Eastern Deir Ezzur after the US
fighter jets wrongly attacked the Washington-backed SDF, killing and wounding a
number of them.
Arabic-language al-Baladi news website affiliated to the terrorists reported
last Friday that in a blue-on-greens air assault the US-led coalition's
warplanes targeted a group of SDF forces in the town of al-Baqouz in Eastern
Deir Ezzur with white phosphorous bombs, killing 5 and wounding 7 others.
to the report, after the attack, the ISIL militants took the chance and
occupied Baqouz after the SDF pulled out of the region.
least 29 children and newborns are reported to have died in a teeming camp in
northeastern Syria over the past 8 weeks, mainly due to hypothermia, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.
23,000 people fleeing fighting in Deir al-Zor between ISIS and the US-backed
Syrian Democratic Forces alliance, led by the Kurdish YPG militia, have arrived
at al-Hol camp during the period, swelling its population, it said.
situation in Al-Hol camp is heartbreaking. Children are dying from hypothermia
as their families flee to safety,” Elizabeth Hoff, WHO representative in Syria,
said in a statement.
United Nations agency appealed for unhindered access to the camp, saying the
situation has become “critical” for 33,000 people, mainly women and children,
now living there in bitterly cold winter conditions.
displaced had walked for days or travelled in open trucks, arriving
malnourished and exhausted following “years of deprivation” living under
control of ISIS, it said.
of new arrivals have been forced to spend several nights in the camp’s open-air
reception and screening areas, without tents, blankets or heating,” the WHO
teams are working around the clock in the camp to screen new arrivals, support
vaccination and refer severely malnourished children to a hospital in
al-Hasakah, it said.
on Friday acknowledged it may have killed as many as 18 civilians in an air
strike on Mosul two years ago, during a massive and ultimately successful
campaign to dislodge militants.
an internal investigation, the Australian Defense Forces said coalition raids
against ISIS positions in the then-occupied northern Iraqi city on June 13,
2017 “may have caused civilian casualties”.
coalition assesses that between six and 18 civilians may have been killed,”
during strikes on the al-Shafaar neighborhood. Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld
indicated there was no firm information about the number of deaths or whether
they came as a result of the Australian strike, or from other coalition
intense aerial bombardment to retake what had been Iraq’s second-largest city
has already been the subject of intense scrutiny, with the US-led coalition
admitting over 1,100 civilian casualties. A total of 30,008 strikes against
ISIS were carried out between August 2014 and the end of August 2018, with the
Mosul campaign being particularly intense.
have alleged the coalition strategy leaned too much on overwhelming air power.
While quicker and posing fewer risks for coalition forces, they allege it put
civilians at greater risk. Monitoring group Airwars says the number of civilian
deaths acknowledged by the coalition is well below the true toll of the bombing
campaign, estimating that at least 7,468 civilians were killed.
said the Australian strike was requested by Iraqi security forces and was in
“full compliance with the law of armed conflict and applicable rules of
engagement”. “The Australian Defense Force takes all feasible precautions to
minimize the risk of civilian casualties.”
mission to the United Nations has vehemently condemned the economic sanctions
targeting the country, saying they blight the lives of ordinary Syrians.
unilateral, coercive measures imposed on the Syrian people represent an
economic terrorism that are largely affecting the lives of the Syrians and
hindering the delivery of their daily basic needs,” the official Syrian Arab
News Agency (SANA) reported, citing the country’s UN Ambassador Bashar
al-Ja’afari as saying on Wednesday.
who was addressing a UN Security Council session focusing on the situation in
the country, said that since foreign-backed militancy broke out in 2011,
Damascus “had spared no efforts to fulfill its duty in meeting the humanitarian
requirements of the Syrians, who have suffered from this war.”
Syrian government, the envoy said, was prepared to boost its cooperation with
the UN and its member states to both improve the humanitarian situation and
pave the way for the return of those who had fled war.
United States and its Western and regional supporters stand accused of
supporting the foreign-backed war that has killed hundreds of thousands in the
country, but has now been mostly contained thanks to Damascus and its allies’
has, meanwhile, been imposing sanctions on hundreds of companies and
individuals, whom it accuses of involvement in developing chemical munitions.
Damascus surrendered its stockpile of chemical weapons in a process monitored
by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
in 2013, and has repeatedly asserted that it has never deployed such weapons.
European Union has also slapped Syria with an oil embargo, placed restrictions
on certain investments in the country, frozen the assets of the Syrian Central
Bank across the bloc, and imposed bans on dozens of companies linked to the
government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The EU voted last May in favor
of extending the bans until June 1, 2019.
forces back terrorism’
in his remarks, Ja’afari expressed satisfaction with the “positive” meetings
and “frank” dialog with the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs
Mark Lowcock and other officials.
however, asserted that the Syrian people’s suffering would not cease “if the
reasons behind this suffering are not treated, mainly the presence of
envoy called for ending the illegitimate presence of the US, French, Turkish,
and British troops on the Syrian territory, saying those are “supporting
terrorism and obstructing the humanitarian work,” SANA said.
in April, officials from a coalition of Arab and Kurdish militants operating in
northeastern Syria said the US, Britain and France were setting up new outposts
in northeastern Syria, despite a lack of permission from Damascus to have
military presence in sovereign Syrian territory.
United States and France have increased the number of their military in
Manbij,” said Helil Bozi, the commander of the “Military Council of Manbij” of
the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He said British forces, too, had
been deployed to the same territories.
has also a military presence in northern Syria and has already launched two
cross-border operations there, namely “Euphrates Shield” in August 2016 and
“Olive Branch” in January 2018 with the declared aim of eradicating the
presence of Kurdish militants and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.
intelligence informing White Helmets’
he said the White Helmets, a Western-backed so-called aid group, had “made many
fabrications by instructions from Western intelligence” about alleged use of
chemical substances in Syria for some permanent members of the UNSC to provide
pretext for launching acts of aggression against the Arab country.
US, Britain, and France have, in the past, used allegations of deployments of
chemical agents to launch attacks against the Syrian military’s defenses and
other targets with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s
capability to produce chemicals.
President Donald Trump ordered a missile strike against Shayrat Airbase in
Syria’s Homs Province on April 7, 2017. He claimed back then that the airfield
had been the origin of a suspected sarin gas attack on the town of Khan
Shaykhun in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on April 4, 2017.
has warned that members of the so-called White Helmets civil defense group are
making preparations to film scenes of staged chemical attacks in Syria’s
northwestern province of Idlib in a bid to implicate Syrian government forces
and invent pretexts for possible acts of aggression on army troops.
during a press briefing in the Russian capital Moscow on Thursday, Russia’s
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said there were reports that the
Western-backed group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with
Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks, has installed cameras
and related equipment in several hospitals across Idlib to film the purported
victims of fake chemical attacks.
around the Idlib de-escalation zone are not on the decline,” Zakharova pointed
out, adding, “Hayat Tahrir al-Sham militants, who are running the show there,
do not only shell nearby settlements on a daily basis, but are also actively
beefing up their presence near the contact line with Syrian government forces.”
diplomat also expressed deep concern over incoming reports that the terrorists
“have not abandoned efforts to stage a chemical attack against civilians.”
concluded that Moscow has urged Washington to withdraw its troops from Syria as
soon as possible, calling for the return of all Syrian territories to the
Damascus government's control.
Russian Defense Ministry said on September 11, 2018 that foreign-sponsored
terrorists had started filming scenes of a staged chemical attack in Idlib
Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation said in a statement that cameramen
from several Middle Eastern television networks and an American news channel
had arrived in the city of Jisr al-Shughur to produce the footage needed for
statement added that a Takfiri militant outfit had been provided with two
canisters of a “chlorine-based chemical” for the purpose of the operation.
further noted that the footage would include scenes of members of the so-called
White Helmets aid group helping and treating the residents of Jisr al-Shughur
after an alleged barrel bomb chemical weapon attack by the Syrian army.
the footage of the staged provocation is to be delivered to the newsrooms of TV
channels, which are to broadcast it after its publication on social media,” the
statement pointed out.
United States has warned it would respond to any possible chemical weapons
attack by Syrian government forces with retaliatory strikes, stressing that the
attacks would be stronger than those conducted by American, British and French
forces last year. On April 14, 2018, the US, Britain and France carried out a
string of airstrikes against Syria over a suspected chemical weapons attack on
the city of Douma, located about 10 kilometers northeast of the capital
and its allies blamed Damascus for the Douma attack, an allegation rejected by
the Syrian government.
September 11 last year, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov censured
the US threats to use military force against Syria as part of Washington’s
the United States, Britain and their allies, Russia provides particular facts
on a daily basis through its Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry as well
missions in New York, The Hague and Geneva. We particularly name geographical
points, where preparations are underway for certain terrorist groups backed by
the US and its allies to carry out provocations,” Ryabkov said.
governments and their allies have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus
whenever an apparent chemical attack takes place.
Top diplomats from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Jordan
concluded talks on Thursday aimed at coordinating policy on the multiple
conflicts gripping the region.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the ministers “exchanged views on regional
issues and ways of cooperation to overcome regional crises.” He said the
meeting was “positive and productive.”
meeting at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center on the Dead Sea also
covered the goal of achieving “security and stability in the interest of Arab
six-hour talks were “positive, constructive, and allowed a wide dialogue with
an open agenda on the developments in the region and ways to face common
challenges and enhance cooperation and coordination to serve Arab issues and
interests,” Safadi said.
described the meetings as a “consultation between brothers and friends.”
meeting was attended by Sameh Shoukri of Egypt, Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah of
Kuwait, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the UAE, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa of
Bahrain and the Kingdom’s Adel Al-Jubeir.
meeting was aimed at finding ways of bringing Syria back to the Arab fold,”
former Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Mamdouh Abadi told Arab News, adding that
the focus had been the future of Syria not Iran.
a former Jordanian royal adviser, Adnan Abu Odeh, said the Syria issue was
complicated. “Everyone is thinking now of bringing Syria back to the Arab
League and the rebuilding efforts in Syria. But the Syrians threw a monkey
wrench into the process when they signed a long-term agreement with Iran
regarding economic cooperation and the rebuilding of Syria,” he told Arab News.
Jordanian Minister Asma Khader said the aim of such meetings was reaching a
consensus on difficult issues.
Dead Sea six-party meeting did not have any Palestinian representation, for
the event was held on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea it would have been
more productive if a Palestinian official was invited,” she told Arab News.
“Any meeting without Palestinians will not be able to confront the biggest
regional challenge of the Palestinian cause. Ordinary Arabs are supportive of
Iran and Turkey precisely because of their position on the Palestinian issue.”
Swedish Green Party, which remains part of the "red-green" coalition
government, has in recent years been shaken by a number of nationwide scandals
involving Islamists and their sympathisers; the most recent involves Sweden's
freshly-minted Culture and Democracy Minister Amanda Lind.
the recent allegations directed against his party, Green Party founder Per
Gahrton admitted that Islamists are trying to infiltrate Swedish parties and
get a hand in Swedish politics.
are investigations that show that Islamists, unfortunately, are trying to get
into almost all parties", Gahrton said during a public debate on SVT with
writer Sofie Löwenmark.
Löwenmark argued that the Green Party, despite its quest to champion
"tolerance" and "diversity", had instead began to accept
intolerance and extremism from certain groups, thus undermining its image as a
"feminist party". Löwenmark also cited Green Party member Kamal
al-Rifai, who invited Salman al-Ouda, Osama bin Laden's mentor, to a lecture in
Sweden, where he voiced anti-Semitic views and insisted that the Holocaust never
Green Party, which was founded in 1981 by Gahrton, has in recent years suffered
a spate of scandals with an Islamist undertone.
of radical Islamism have tried to gain entry into other political parties. But
no Swedish party has embraced representatives with opinions of this kind as
much as the Green Party", members of the Islamism watchdog Doku warned in
a recent opinion piece in Aftonbladet. The watchdog also claimed that the Green
Party had major "blind spots" for Islamism in its midst.
recently, new Swedish Culture Minister and Green party secretary Amanda Lind
landed in hot water only days into her tenure. Lind triggered broad outrage
with her accolades to party colleague and former Housing Minister Mehmet
Kaplan, whom she hailed as "pioneer" and "hero" who
"spent every day fighting for environment, climate, democracy, equality
has been minister for like three minutes and has already begun hailing
Islamists", Moderate party MP Hanif Bali tweeted.
columnist Patrik Kronqvist called Lind's accolades "the worst possible
start for a democracy minister".
Mehmet Kaplan, the first active Muslim to become a cabinet minister in Sweden,
quit his post in 2016 after his ties with a Turkish neo-Nazi group, the Grey
Wolves, were revealed. Earlier, Grey Wolves representatives in Sweden urged
their compatriots to "awaken" and "slay Armenian dogs". In
2014, Kaplan also made national headlines after comparing Swedish jihadists in
Syria to Swedish volunteers in Finland during WWII. Still earlier, he likened
Israel to Nazi Germany.
Islam-related scandal within the Green Party featured chairman for the Swedish
Muslims for Peace and Justice Yasri Khan, then a candidate for the party's top
management, who had to quit for refusing to shake hands with a female reporter.
Gahrton himself sparked a lot of controversy with his pro-Palestine speeches at
Radio Islam in the 1980s, which were slammed as anti-Semitic. In the recent SVT
debate, Gahrton admitted this was a "foolish thing to do".
emerged in 1981 out of the anti-nuclear power movement, the Green Party has
been represented in parliament since 1994. Since October 2014, the Greens have
been the junior partner to the Swedish Social Democratic Party in the Löfven
Cabinet minority coalition government.
politicians in the Netherlands have requested protection of mosques and Islamic
centers from far-right groups and PKK supporters, leader of Denk (Think) Party
said on Thursday.
to Anadolu Agency, Tunahan Kuzu stressed the importance of protecting mosques
against rising Islamophobia.
noted that more than 300 incidents of attacks on mosques occurred over the past
mosques in Amsterdam is just a beginning Kuzu said, adding these actions must
be taken in other cities too.
week, Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam, said that they will protect
mosques and Islamic centers because of rising Islamophobic threats.
windows were shattered, people left threat notes and pig heads in front of
mosques. A few years ago, some people attacked with molotov cocktails to a
mosque in Enschede city. I appealed to Muslim community to speak up about their
fears,“ Kuzu said.
of the political parties do not want to take action against mosque attacks, he
bring up this issue every time we have the chance. Sooner or later, everyone
will realize the importance of taking safety measures against these attacks. We
get the first outcomes from Amsterdam and we will continue to fight for it,” he
government spare €1.5 million [$1.7 million] to protect synagogues in 2015,
Denk Party supported it but we stated that all religious groups deserve same
kind of safety as it is the primary duty of the state,” said Kuzu and
emphasized the importance of upcoming elections in March 20 on this issue.
Van Doorn, former far-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) leader, said although the
decision of protecting mosques in Amsterdam is an important development, the
decision is very late.
Russia will host the Taliban and Afghan politicians opposed to President Ashraf
Ghani on Tuesday, Russian and Taliban sources said, promoting its role of power
broker in what a US official called an attempt to “muddle” the US-backed peace
a look: US sees China, Russia and Iran as key players in Afghanistan
snubbed the Afghan government, sources said, to ensure the participation of the
Taliban who refuse to hold talks with Ghani’s representatives to end the
17-year-old Afghan war, branding them puppets of the United States.
Taliban leaders and prominent Afghan politicians will travel to Moscow for a
day-long summit. At this sensitive stage, it was best to not have Afghan
government officials at the table,” said a Russian official on condition of
anonymity. The Russian Embassy in Kabul was not available for comment.
Moscow talks underline the increasing role Russia is playing in Afghanistan,
decades after Soviet forces withdrew from the country, with business investment
plans, diplomatic and cultural outreach and small military support for the
central government. A leaf from history: The Afghan war spills over
also come as the Afghan government is struggling to recover control of
districts lost to the Taliban.
news of Russia hosting Ghani’s critics, including former president Hamid Karzai
who believes Russia can play a decisive role in ending America’s longest war,
has angered Kabul and US officials.
is again trying to muddle the US-backed peace process and the political
situation of Afghanistan,” said a senior US official, adding that Russia’s
repeated overtures towards the Taliban and Ghani’s critics proved its
determination to belittle the government.
outspoken critics of Ghani, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Mohammad Ismail Khan and Atta
Mohammad Noor, who fought against the Soviets after their 1979 invasion, will
travel to Moscow.
Shahin, a spokesman for the Taliban political office in Qatar, said a
delegation led by Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a senior political leader, would
travel to Moscow for what he said would be a two-day meeting.
November, Moscow hosted a multilateral summit to try to find ways to end the
war, drawing delegates from a body appointed by the Western-backed government,
the Taliban and officials from a dozen nations, including the United States.
said Russia wants to maintain good relations with the Taliban, who are fighting
to restore strict Islamic rule after their 2001 ouster.
France and Britain have officially set up a European mechanism to facilitate
non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent US sanctions, two diplomats said on
EU has been preparing the system, in effect a clearing house that avoids
monetary transfers in dollars between the EU and Iran for months although it is
unlikely to become operational for several months due to technical details.
broadcaster NDR reported that the European Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) would
be named INSTEX-Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges.
idea is for the SPV to help preserve the economic benefits for Iran derived
from the curbs it placed on its nuclear program under a 2015 deal with world
has been keen to show good faith towards Iran since US President Donald Trump
withdrew from the deal last year.
entity is not likely to revive trade with Iran to begin with as its focus will
primarily be food, medicine and humanitarian, with limited transactions. It
will not be used for oil-related transactions that have been hit hard by US
won’t change things dramatically, but it’s an important political message to
Iran to show that we are determined to save the JCPOA and also the United
States to show we defend our interests despite their extraterritorial
sanctions,” one European diplomat said.
relations between Tehran and the EU have worsened, and the EU this month
imposed its first sanctions on Iran since the 2015 deal in reaction to Iran’s
ballistic missile tests and assassination plots on European soil.
a symbolic move, the EU added two Iranian individuals and an Iranian
intelligence unit to the bloc’s terrorist list.
member-states are also finalizing a joint statement on Iran to outline concerns
about Tehran’s regional policies and ballistic missile program, but also to
show their desire to maintain the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
and Germany had taken joint responsibility for the SPV. A German banker would
head up the vehicle, which would be based in France. France, Britain and
Germany will be shareholders and they hope other states will join.
trade mechanism is ‘first step’, says Iran
said on Thursday the new European mechanism to facilitate non-dollar trade with
the country was a first step for the European Union to fulfil its commitments
under a nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers, state television
Germany and Britain have set up the mechanism in an effort to circumvent US
sanctions on Iran, though diplomats say it is unlikely to yield the big
commercial transactions that Tehran says it needs to keep the nuclear deal
United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has expressed
concern about the humanitarian conditions of Yemeni children, warning about the
formation of a "lost generation".
than half a million children have been forced to leave their homes in the past
six months, most of which have fled a major Saudi-led military onslaught on
Yemen's port city of Hudaydah during July and August, said the Yemen director
of UNICEF, Meritxell Relano, on Thursday.
no access to education and withstanding an increased risk of disease and
hunger, Relano highlighted some of the conflict's long-term effects on the
education they will not be able to find jobs... a generation that is not
educated has a very bleak future,” said the UNICEF director.
are losing a generation - many children are losing on their education, and
displacement makes it worse.”
Save the Children charity reports that despite an ongoing ceasefire in
Hudaydah, thousands of families are still fleeing the city in fear of a renewed
Saudi siege. Many are struggling to afford basic items like food, fuel and
forced to flee their homes often have to live in unsanitary and cramped
conditions in camps or host communities with little access to clean drinking
water or nutritious food,” said Save the Children spokesman Bhanu Bhatnagar.
added that children are specifically vulnerable towards malnutrition, diarrhea,
cholera, and diphtheria -- a serious bacterial infection that spreads as easily
as a common cold. As much as 89 percent of Yemen's diphtheria deaths are
related to children who are under 14.
Arabia and its allies unleashed the deadly military aggression against Yemen in
March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall the country’s former Riyadh-allied
Houthi Ansarullah movement, which runs state affairs in Sana’a in the absence
of an effective government, has been defending the nation against the Saudi
June last year, the Saudi-led coalition launched an offensive on Hudaydah
despite international warnings that it would compound the country’s
is known to be the point of entry for 80 percent of the country’s commercial
imports and nearly all UN-supervised humanitarian aid.
Sought Fresh Ban on Students Islamic Movement of India
DELHI: The Centre will soon re-invoke a fresh ban on Students Islamic Movement
of India (SIMI), under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.
to the Indian Express, Home Ministry officials sources said the decision was
taken after fifteen states and union territories, including Delhi sought a
fresh ban against the organisation.
fresh ban will be brought for five more years after January 2019, said sources
based on assessments by investigative agencies and state police forces.
says Abu Faizal alias ‘Doctor’, a top SIMI member was arrested in December 2013
after he escaped from Madhya Pradesh’s Khandwa jail along with five other SIMI
members in Oct 2, 2013. Faizal was the mastermind of the jailbreak.
part of the ‘Maal-e-Ganimat’, which means to acquire funds by any means,
Faizal’s group robbed a rural bank in Narmada in 2009. He was also involved in
bank lootings in Dewas and Itarsi, in Madhya Pradesh. Faisal’s former
associates, who were part of the 2013 escape was killed in an encounter in 2015
by Telangana police.
was formed in Aligarh in 1977 and had thousands of members and offices in
almost every district of Madhya Pradesh before it was banned in 2002. The group
is said to believe in fundamentalist Islam and to spread its values. In 2007,
the Supreme Court of India described SIMI as a “secessionist movement”.
group came under the radar of intelligence agencies after 1998 and the then
SIMI president Shahid Badr Falahi was arrested in Bahraich for an alleged
provocative speech days after 9/11. SIMI was declared outlawed for the first
time in September 2001 for its involvement in terrorist acts and the ban was
extended in 2003 and 2006.
than 1,200 SIMI members were arrested after the ban.
least two militants were killed in a gun battle with security forces in south
Kashmir’s Pulwama, officials said on Friday.
operation was launched by the Indian Army and state police in Drubgam village
on Thursday evening and house to house searches were conducted during the
night, an official said.
security forces installed lights at various places in the village to prevent
the militants from escaping, they said.
said an encounter began around 12am when militants opened fire at the forces
and that both militants were killed in the ensuing gun battle.
have been identified as Shahid Ahmad Baba and Aniyat Ahmad Ziger, according to
news agency ANI. A self-loading rifle and a pistol have been recovered from
them after the encounter, it said.
the army has not revealed their identities. The locals said they could be
affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) as the group is active in the area.
internet service has been snapped in Pulwama and Shopian districts.
militants were killed last week in different operations launched by security
forces in south Kashmir and Baramulla. Nine of these were locals who were
affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish and the Hizbul Mujahideen.
civilians, including three women, and two CRPF jawans were injured Thursday
morning in a grenade attack by militants on security forces at Sherbagh Chowk
in Anantnag district.
press release issued on Thursday by the Jammu Kashmir police stated,
“Terrorists today hurled a grenade on security forces at Sherbagh Chowk in
Anantnag district which resulted in injuries to five civilians, including 3
women, and two CRPF jawans.”
injured have been shifted to a hospital in the Valley and Jammu Kashmir police
have registered a case in connection with the incident.
A delegation of Muslim organisations has demanded an impartial and transparent
probe into the case involving the arrest of suspects with IS tilt and a ban on
websites used by terror organisations to brainwash the youth.
Maharashtra anti-terrorism squad (ATS) recently arrested nine suspects and
detained a minor from the city and Mumbra in Thane for their alleged inclination
towards IS — an international terror outfit.
arrested suspects were allegedly conspiring to carry out attacks in Mumbai and
Aurangabad, the ATS has said.
delegation met the ATS chief and submitted a memorandum of their demand to him
in Mumbai on Wednesday.
officers at the ATS headquarters confirmed the visit of the delegation. “The
ATS chief assured the delegation of personally looking into their grievances by
ensuring transparent and unbiased probe,” said an officer who was present at
members, led by Muslim Numainda Council, during their interaction with the ATS
chief also made some serious allegations against the squad besides raising
questions over actions by its team that conducted the raids at houses of the
suspects in Aurangabad. The members of the delegation said that they defended
Mushahidul Islam, the 23-year old city-based graphic designer, before the ATS
chief, citing that he did not have any role in the alleged activities as being
associated with other suspects. His only mistake was that his SIM card was used
by his brother-in-law Mohsin Khan, who hails from Mumbra, the said.
members also raised the issue of Mohsin Khan’s spouse, who alleged that a
member from the ATS allegedly held a gun to her head and took signatures on
blank papers. The members also claimed that whatever material is being shown as
seized from the houses of the suspects in the city are commonly available
household articles, including thinner and nail polish remover. The delegation
told the ATS chief that the articles seized from the suspects’ houses in
Aurangabad were neither sealed nor a panchanama was done, leaving scope for
tampering with the seized articles. They also expressed apprehensions over the
possibility of the forensic lab giving adverse report in such a situation.
president Ziauddin Siddiqui said, “We have made a representation to the ATS
chief demanding impartial probe and ensuring that no innocent gets framed or
harassed at any cost.” He said the delegation has demanded that after the
suspects’ role gets established during the process of investigation, the ATS
should slap them with sections as per their individual role and not all of them
should be jointly slapped with the stringent sections of UAPA.
help assured to militants surrendering arms in Balochistan
MURAD JAMALI: The provincial government, under the Peaceful Balochistan
Package, will provide complete financial and other help to all those who have
laid down their weapons and abandoned militancy against the state and joined
the mainstream to play their role for the development of the country.
Sector Commander of East, Brigadier Zulfiqar Bajwa, said this while speaking at
a compensation distribution ceremony in Sui area of Dera Bugti on Thursday.
the package, the compensation amount was distributed among 132 former militant
commanders and sub commanders. A large number of people of belonging to the
Bugti tribe attended the ceremony.
Bajwa said that because of joint efforts of the government and law-enforcement
agencies, a large number of anti-state militants had surrendered their arms and
joined hands with the government.
Deputy Commissioner of Dera Bugti, Yasir Bazai, Mir Jan Muhammad Bugti, Shah
Murad Bugti, Mir Jamal Khan Kalpar, Wadera Ghulam Nabi Bugti and senior civil ministry
officials attended the ceremony.
British sex offender held in Pakistan
A British national, convicted of sexual offences by a British court, was
arrested in Pakistan during a joint operation carried out by the Federal
Investigation Agency (FIA), the Punjab Police and the National Crime Agency of
the United Kingdom.
British High Commission press release on Thursday said Choudhry Ikhlaq Hussain
was arrested during the joint operation in Sangla on Jan 26.
41, of Pakistani origin was sentenced in the UK to 19 years’ imprisonment for
serious sexual offences against a child in 2016. He was found guilty on three
counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of rape and one count of
conspiracy to rape. This followed a long-running Greater Manchester Police
investigation — named ‘Operation Doublet’ — which looked into the sexual exploitation
of teenage girls in Rochdale.
fled to Pakistan during the trial, but was found guilty in absentia. The UK has
been working closely with Pakistan’s authorities since 2017 to secure his
arrest and extradition.
arrest is a further operational success for the UK-Pakistan justice and
accountability partnership established during the British home secretary’s
visit to Pakistan in September last year. The partnership includes a renewed
commitment to tackle the shared threats of organised crime and international
criminality between our two countries.
case will now go to courts, which will decide whether to approve his
extradition to the UK, the press release further stated.
the successful joint operation, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan,
Thomas Drew, said that “the arrest of this individual, who has been convicted
of sexual offences by a British court, is a significant achievement, and
another excellent example of UK-Pakistan cooperation in tackling international
criminality and impunity. It sends a clear message that Pakistan is not a safe
haven for international criminals.”
British ambassador thanked FIA and the Punjab Police for their professionalism
and dedication in the execution of this operation.
is worth mentioning here that British Home Secretary Sajid Javid visited
Pakistan in September, and during his visit, he agreed on a new justice and
accountability partnership to help Pakistan and the UK tackle the shared
threats posed by serious and organised crime and international criminality.
partnership has strengthened collaboration and delivered a number of outcomes.
This includes the extradition in October 2018 of Shahid Mohammad — wanted in
the UK for the murder of five children and three adults, the press release
Pakistan on Thursday summoned India’s high commissioner in Islamabad to protest
against the summoning of its top diplomat in New Delhi over a telephonic
conversation of foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi with Kashmiri separatist
leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
strong objection to Qureshi’s phone call to Mirwaiz, India’s foreign secretary
Vijay Gokhale had summoned Pakistan’s high commissioner Sohail Mahmood on
Wednesday to convey him his country’s reservations.
a statement, Indian external affairs ministry called Qureshi’s telephonic conversation
with All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader a “brazen attempt” to
subvert India’s unity and violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Tuesday, Qureshi, according to Pakistani media reports, had informed the APHC
chairman of the upcoming events organised at the House of Commons and an
exhibition in London on Feb 4 and 5. Farooq, according to officials here, had
said that he wished to attend the events but will not be able to do so given
the confiscation of his passport by the Indian government. During their phone
call, the foreign minister was of the view that India should permit a
Commission of Inquiry to visit Kashmir.
a tit-for-tat, Pakistan’s foreign secretary Tehmina Janjua summoned India’s
high commissioner in Islamabad Ajay Bisaria to the foreign office on Thursday
morning to lodge a protest against New Delhi’s move of summoning Pakistan’s
foreign office (FO) spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said that Pakistan rejects
the Indian view that Kashmiri struggle for self-determination is terrorism.
“Kashmir is a disputed territory. The Indian government’s move to summon the
Pakistani high commissioner is an attempt to influence the upcoming elections.
If you wish to contest your elections, don’t involve us in it,” the spokesperson
to Dr Faisal, foreign secretary Janjua made it clear to the Indian diplomat
that Pakistan would continue to extend support to the people of Kashmir.
(Dunya News) – Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq on Thursday demanded the
formation of judicial commission on Sahiwal incident which left four people
including two women dead.
JI chief said that no one has confidence on the Joint Investigation Team (JIT),
adding that what kind of justice is this that investigation is being carried
out after killing whether the person killed in alleged encounter was a
terrorist or not.
incumbent government is also a continuation of Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP),
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Musharraf government.
Haq went on to say that the children were being asked to identify those
involved in the alleged encounter.
At a time when inflation is hitting every segment of society hard, performing
of Haj has also become costlier by 63 per cent.
federal cabinet on Thursday announced the Haj Policy 2019 under which the cost
of performing the ritual under the government scheme has been fixed at Rs456,
426 (with Qurbani), against last year’s expense of Rs280,000 per person. Now,
every individual will have to pay an additional Rs176,426.
the Haj Policy 2018, the cost of Haj for individuals in the north of the
country was Rs280,000 and for the south, it was Rs270,000. However, in the new
policy, the cost of Haj for individuals in the north has been fixed at
Rs456,426 (with Qurbani) and Rs436, 975 (without Qurbani), while for those in
the south it is Rs446,426 (with Qurbani) and Rs426, 975 (without Qurbani).
Minister Imran Khan approved the Haj Policy 2019 today under which 184,000
pilgrims from Pakistan will perform Haj this year,” said Information Minister
Fawad Chaudhry at a press conference after the cabinet meeting, elaborating
that under a quota of 184,000 pilgrims given this year to Pakistan by the
government of Saudi Arabia, 10,000 senior citizens would perform Haj. “We are
trying to provide better facilities to pilgrims,” he added. “Their biometrics
will be conducted in their own cities.”
said that during the cabinet meeting, some ministers, including Religious
Affairs Minister Noorul Haq Qadri, had opposed the move to withdraw the subsidy
on Haj. They said Mr Qadri was due to accompany the information minister at the
press briefing, but he did not turn up apparently to show his displeasure over
the decision after which the charges would increase to over Rs456,000.
contacted, the information minister denied reports that Mr Qadri was to be
present at the presser. However, a reporter who has been covering the religious
affairs ministry for the past 10 years, said it was for the first time that the
religious affairs minister had not announced the Haj policy.
cabinet also decided to reconsider the names of 32 persons accused in the ‘fake
bank accounts’ case so that their names could be removed from the travel ban
172 people — including top leaders of the PPP — were placed on the ECL but on the
directives of the Supreme Court, the names of PPP chairman Bilawal
Bhutto-Zardari and Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah were removed. Now, 170
of the persons accused face the travel ban.
ban on [former president] Asif Ali Zardari will continue while the case of 32
others has been sent to the review committee for removal from the ECL,” the
information minister said, adding that one of the persons accused in the
context, Abdul Momin Dehri, had passed away.
cabinet decided to provide e-visa to the nationals of 175 countries, that will
be issued by the relevant Pakistan embassies within one week. The nationals of
50 countries, that the minister referred to as “friendly countries”, will be
given visas on arrival at domestic airports. However, the cabinet did not
approve the provision of a visa on arrival to foreign journalists. Responding
to a query about the issuance of visas to Indian nationals, the minister said:
“India is still in category B and no decision has so far been made regarding
the issuance of visas on arrival to Indians.”
about the controversy generated over the mentioned change, the minister said
that more than a 100 articles of the Constitution have been affected under the
amendment, many of them proving to be non-beneficial. Answering a question
about the ongoing US-Taliban negotiation process, Mr Chaudhry claimed that the
credit of bringing the two sides to the table went to the PTI-led government.
The talks, he said, were heading towards their logical conclusion and would
benefit the whole region. The minister added that the cabinet had approved
recommendations on civil service reforms that were presented by Dr Ishrat, the
head of a committee formed on the issue.
explained that Finance Minister Asad Umar had also given a detailed
presentation on tax reform and that it had been discussed that the country’s
defence budget was still low as compared to that of India and other
neighbouring countries. “Although we cannot increase our defence budget at this
stage, it is still lower than that of other countries in the region,” he said.
cabinet approved appointment of Khurram Hussain as managing director of
Pak-Libya Holding Company Limited. It also approved terms and conditions for
the appointment of Jameel Ahmed as deputy governor of State Bank of Pakistan.
The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has identified over 11,000
out-of-school children who could be enrolled in schools in the first phase of
to a rough estimate, there are over 30,000 out-of-school children in Islamabad
and FDE teams have so far managed to reach 11,029.
will decide how to enrol these students in schools in a meeting likely to be
held on Friday,” said Saqib Shahab, director schools.
said most of the out-of-school children are residents of Tarnol and Nilor.
Asked what will happen if parents of the out-of-school children identified for
enrolment refuse, he said legal proceedings will be initiated against them.
said that article 25-A of the Constitution makes it the state’s responsibility
to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of
five and 16.
I do not think parents will refuse the admission of their children in schools,”
he said, adding that the survey will continue and that FDE teams will reach out
to all out-of-school children in the capital.
few months ago, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mehmood started a
campaign for enrolling out-of-school children into schools and registered the
first five students himself during a ceremony.
the same ceremony, the minister had said that all the over 25,000 out-of-school
children in the city will be enrolled in two years.
said attempts have been made in the past to bring out-of-school children into
schools and that these attempts failed because the root cause was not
addressed, which is that these children contribute towards the finances of
do not think the campaign will be successful if the families of these children
are not given financial assistance,” an FDE official said.
added that two full-fledged campaigns were started in 2010 and 2015-16 in which
hundreds of children were enrolled. But most of those children gave up their
education later on.
the official said FDE is pushing a plan for paying parents of out-of-school
children via the Benazir Income Support Program so their children can go to
official of the education ministry told Dawn that a meeting has been planned
for Friday in which FDE’s progress related to out-of-school children will be reviewed.
said all the children identified will be enrolled in their nearest schools by
said that if need be, an evening shift will be started in FDE-run schools to
accommodate these children.
an area does not have a school, we will set up a community school so all
children in the locality can get an education,” an official said, adding that
the education ministry was also planning to provide the children with food.
Thursday dismissed allegations of maneuvering the Afghan peace process, saying
it was facilitating talks between Taliban and the United States (US) in ‘good
faith’ despite attempts by some regional actors to ruin the efforts.
on request of the US and Afghanistan and as shared responsibility is
facilitating the talks, however some actors, having their interests served by
perpetual conflict in Afghanistan, are active to scuttle the peace process,”
Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Faisal said during a weekly press briefing here at
the Foreign Office.
Foreign Office also rejected allegations in a US threat assessment report that
Islamabad provides safe havens to militant groups, warning that such
‘controversial statements will be counterproductive and have the potential to
adversely affect the peace and stability of the region’. The spokesperson
cautioned Washington against hurling allegations which could be ‘harmful’.
Faisal also commented on the situation in Afghanistan, saying that matters
between the Taliban and Kabul are ‘their business’. “We hope that they can sit
together and resolve their issues,” he added.
spokesperson highlighted Pakistan’s concern about militant Islamic State group
activities at the Pak-Afghan border. He defended Prime Minister Imran Khan’s
decision to keep the Torkham border crossing open around the clock, explaining
that the decision was meant to encourage trade between Pakistan and
Afghanistan. “Pakistan is making the transport of imports to and exports from
Afghanistan easier [by keeping the border open],” he said.
Foreign Office also rejected India’s objections to Foreign Minister Shah
Mahmood Qureshi’s phone call to All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. In a tit-for-tat move, Pakistan summoned India’s high
commissioner on Wednesday, a day after Delhi had summoned Islamabad’s
representative in India to lodge a protest over Qureshi’s telephone call to
Mirwaiz. Qureshi had on Tuesday apprised the APHC leader of Pakistan’s efforts
to highlight the Kashmir issue at all international forums and to expose
brutalities committed by Indian security forces in the occupied territory.
Faisal said Pakistan has rejected India’s objections to the telephone call and
reaffirmed its support for the Kashmiri’s struggle for self-determination. He
said Pakistan rejects Indian insinuations which equate the Kashmiri’s struggle
for self-determination to terrorism. “Kashmir is a disputed territory. The
Indian government’s move to summon the Pakistani high commissioner is an
attempt to influence the upcoming elections,” the spokesperson said, adding,
“If you wish to contest your elections, don’t involve us in them.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called on the country’s spy chiefs to
“educate” President Donald Trump after his recent attack against the American
Wednesday, Trump went on a twitter rant to attack his intelligence chiefs’
assessments on Iran’s growing power despite Washington’s pressure campaign.
a letter to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Schumer asked the
former senator, CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI chief Christopher Wray hold a
meeting with the Republican president.
cannot allow the President’s ill-advised and unwarranted comments today to
stand. …He is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and
hurting the national interest in the process. You must find a way to make that
clear to him," Schumer wrote in the letter.
tweets came in response to Tuesday statements by Haspel and Coats before the US
Senate Intelligence Committee.
told the panel that, despite Trump’s decision last May to withdraw from the
2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has been “making some preparations
that would increase their ability to take a step back.”
also acknowledged that Tehran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons
announcing his decision to leave the deal between Iran and six world powers –
the US, the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany—Trump was under the
impression that other signatories would follow his suit. But that never
hoped that re-imposing sanctions against Iran would force Tehran to halt its
missile program and roll back regional influence. However, a lack of
international support for the sanctions has cast doubt over the effectiveness
of his plan.
American head of state scolded Haspel and Coats for their testimony, calling
them “extremely passive and naïve.”
I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and
beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different,”
source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week)
and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There [sic] economy is now
crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran.
Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”
asked Coats to make Trump understand "the facts and raw intelligence
underlying the Intelligence Community assessments."
upon him how critically important it is for him to join you and the leadership
of our intelligence community in speaking with a unified and accurate voice
about national security threats," he added.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took the opportunity to highlight the
confusion within the US political system under Trump, asserting that even the
American intelligence agencies “contradicted” the US commander-in-chief.
The Afghan government’s control over both its territory and population further
eroded in 2018 while the insurgents continued to strengthen their position,
says an official US report released on Thursday.
office of the Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR),
which prepared the report for Congress, points out that there’s no evidence to
suggest that President Donald Trump’s new South Asia strategy — implemented
last year — has been effective in bringing stability to the war-ravaged
points out that the district-stability data it received from US civil and
military officials based in Afghanistan in the last quarter of 2018, “is not
indicative of effectiveness of the South Asia strategy”.
from a report by a mission it sent to Afghanistan in May 2018, SIGAR supports
the argument that the United States alone cannot secure or rebuild Afghanistan
if it does not get strong support from within the country.
US government overestimated its ability to build and reform government
institutions in Afghanistan as part of its $4.7 billion stabilisation efforts,”
the report says.
stabilisation strategy and the programmes used to achieve it were not properly
tailored to the Afghan context, and that successes in stabilising Afghan
districts rarely lasted longer than the physical presence of Coalition troops
prepares a quarterly report on the situation in Afghanistan under a mandate
from the US Congress but also shares it with the administration.
Quoting from the district-stability data, SIGAR notes that as of October 22,
2018, control of Afghanistan’s districts, population, and territory became
somewhat more contested.
government control or influence continued to decline, and insurgent control or
influence increased slightly since July 2018.”
percentage of the population in districts under the Afghan government control
or influence remained largely stagnant from May 2017 through July 2018, at
around 65 per cent. But it decreased in October to 63.5 per cent.
the Afghan government’s control or influence of its districts in October
decreased by nearly two percentage points since July to 53.8 per cent.
Control: The Afghan government’s control or influence over the population
declined this quarter. As of October 22, 2018, 63.5 per cent of the population
(21.2 million of an estimated 33.3 million total) lived in areas under Afghan
government control or influence, down roughly 500,000 people (and 1.7 percentage
points) since the previous quarter.
this quarter’s figure represents a slightly smaller decline (0.6 percentage
points) in population under government control or influence compared to the
same period in 2017.
insurgency slightly increased its control or influence over areas where 10.8
per cent of the population (3.6 million people) lived, a 0.3 percentage- point
increase since last quarter but a decrease from the 12 per cent reported in
number of people living in contested areas increased to 8.5 million people
(25.6 per cent of the population), a nearly two percentage-point increase
compared to the same period in 2017.
Control: As of October 22, 2018, there were 219 districts under Afghan
government control (74) or influence (145), which is 53.8 per cent of the total
number of districts. This represents a decrease of seven government-controlled
or influenced districts compared to last quarter and eight since the same
period in 2017.
control or influence of Afghanistan’s districts increased marginally: there
were 50 districts under insurgent control (12) or influence (38) this quarter.
This is an increase of one district since last quarter, but a decrease of eight
compared to the same period in 2017.
States President Donald Trump says American troops in Afghanistan will return
home if his administration's talks with the Taliban militant group lead to an
the first time they're talking about settling, they're talking about making an
agreement, and we bring our people back home if that happens," Trump said
in remarks in the Oval Office on Thursday.
see what happens. But they're in very serious negotiations for the first time.
There's a reason for that. So I think we're doing so well on a foreign policy
and the Taliban terrorist group ended six days of negotiations in Doha on
Saturday, with Kabul saying the US had assured Afghan officials that the focus
of the talks was finding a way to facilitate peace and ensure foreign troop
sources speaking to Reuters claimed that the two sides agreed on a draft peace
agreement, setting out the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan within
18 months, a timetable that was later denied by a US State Department
about the negotiations, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stressed the
importance of foreign troop withdrawal for future talks.
the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon,
progress in other issues is impossible,” said Mujahid.
peace envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, however, revealed on Monday that
American and Taliban officials had agreed to a peace deal framework that could
lead to a full US troop pullout in return for a ceasefire and Taliban talks
with the Afghan government.
a senior US government official told Reuters the talks had made “significant
progress” regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops but more talks were
required for a ceasefire agreement and timetable.
to the CNN on Thursday, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker
expressed concern that the US has engaged in talks with the Taliban without the
involvement of the Kabul government, describing it as a "dangerous
concession" to the militant group.
this is a course we're going to continue on, this is very much is a surrender
negotiation," Crocker said.
to a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
(SIGAR) published October last year, the Afghan government only controls 55
percent of the country's territory, while anti-government militants govern 12
a third of the country is contested, fully controlled by neither the government
President Ashraf Ghani said last week that 45,000 members of the country’s
security forces had been killed since he took office in 2014.
US has nearly 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission.
a vote that will likely further complicate US withdrawal plans from both Syria
and Afghanistan, the Senate voted on Thursday to advance a bill that pushes
back against any precipitous pull-out.
vote coming 48 hours after Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell proposed an
amendment that rejects President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw 7,000 troops
from Afghanistan and 2,000 from Syria. The amendment is attached to the bill
Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act that the Congress is
Thursday, a majority from the US Senate voted in favour of Mr McConnell’s
amendment and in rebuking the White House policy. The vote was bipartisan with
68 in favour and 23 against, offering more than two thirds support, with
majority coming from Mr Trump’s own Republican party.
McConnell had warned of “the danger of a precipitous withdrawal from either
conflict”, reminding of the terrorist attack of September 11, and where Al
Qaeda used Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan an attack against the United
States. The Senate leader called for “diplomatic engagement and political
solutions to the underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan.”
it is tempting to retreat to the comfort and security of our own shores, there
is still a great deal of work to be done … we know that left untended, these
conflicts will reverberate in our own cities,” he said.
the amendment that passed on Thursday is non-binding and Mr Trump would not be
bound by it. Still experts saw it as a signal to the Trump administration that
could affect the shape and the timeline of its exit from these conflicts.
McConnell’s amendment is a shot across the bow of the Trump team from the
majority of the Republican party that favours active US engagement in global
affairs,” Nicholas Heras, a senior fellow at Center for New American Security,
told The National. “It is Mr McConnell’s way of telling President Trump that
Syria is an important item on the GOP’s foreign policy agenda” he added.
would it affect Mr Trump’s vague plans on Syria? “It could keep US engagement
in Syria for the rest of Mr Trump’s term in office, even if by other means than
the US military” Mr Heras argued. Leaving a counterterrorism force is one of
the options being explored in Syria.
diplomats from Saudi Arabia and its allies wrapped up two days of talks in
Jordan’s Dead Sea resort on Thursday on coordinating policy on the multiple conflicts
gripping the region.
closed-door meetings were a “consultation between brothers and friends”,
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in a terse statement shortly after
were a forum “to exchange views on our regional issues and ways of cooperation
to overcome regional crises,” he said, without providing any details.
Wednesday, when the six ministers held six hours of talks, Jordan’s King
Abdullah II highlighted the “importance of coordination on the various issues
and crises facing the region.”
talks, which also involved the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait and
the United Arab Emirates, came just two weeks before a planned US-Polish
conference on the Middle East.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the conference will look at “making
sure Iran is not a destabilizing influence”, although a senior US official has
insisted it is “not an anti-Iran meeting.”
players have baulked at attending the conference, concerned by Washington’s
hard line against Iran which is widely seen as driven by Saudi Arabia and
Dead Sea meeting also came amid debate over the return of Syria to the Arab
League, which suspended Damascus’s membership in November 2011 as President
Bashar al-Assad has emerged victorious from nearly eight years of deadly
Arab states, including Lebanon and Tunisia, have called for Syria’s return.
December, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir made the first visit to Damascus by
an Arab leader since 2011, and the UAE reopened its embassy.
of the leading Islamic preachers in Mali’s capital Bamako was stabbed and
injured by six people on Wednesday, another leading imam said.
Sakho, one of the imams of Hippodrom-2 Mosque, was stabbed by six young people
in front of his house at around 10.00 a.m. local time (1000GMT), Messa Mory
Konate, a representative of the Islamic Solidarity League, told Anadolu Agency.
stabbing was the second such incident in this month as Sheikh Abdoulaye Aziz
Yattabare, another leading opinion leader, was previously stabbed to death on
said that two young carpenters, who are among the suspects, are also accused of
stealing the phone of a businessman.
had advised the accused to give back the phone to the owner if they stole it,
leaving the scene, Sakho was attacked in front of his house by six people,
including the two in question.
was taken to the Mali Hospital in the capital and he was discharged in the
said police have arrested some of the suspects and launched investigation.
United States military said on Thursday it has killed 24 al-Shabaab extremists
with an airstrike in Somalia, one of its deadliest in months.
airstrike was carried out on Wednesday near an extremist camp near Shebeeley in
the central Hiran region north of the capital, Mogadishu, the US Africa Command
said in a statement.
was the ninth such airstrike carried out by the US this year. The US carried
out nearly 50 strikes last year in the Horn of Africa nation against the
al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa.
has claimed responsibility for the attack on a hotel complex in the capital of
neighbouring Kenya earlier this month that left 21 people dead. The extremist
group, which targets Kenya in retaliation for sending troops to Somalia, has
also targeted hotels, government offices and checkpoints in Mogadishu with
group is also accused of stealing humanitarian aid in the often drought-hit
country and extorting residents and travelers to fund its attacks.
US statement said the airstrikes are meant to support Somali forces as they
increase pressure on al-Shabaab and its recruiting efforts in the region,
especially in southern and central Somalia. Extremist camps and other safe
havens are targeted.
US statement said no civilians were killed or injured in the latest airstrike.
January 19 the US said an airstrike had killed 52 al-Shabaab extremists in
Middle Juba region after a "large group" mounted an attack on Somali
forces. A Somali intelligence officer said the extremist group had been amassing
some 400 fighters for more than a week to launch a major attack against Somali
and Kenyan forces in order to disrupt a planned offensive.
October, the US said an airstrike killed about 60 fighters near the
al-Shabaab-controlled community of Harardere in Mudug province in the central
part of the country.
bigger presence of relief agencies, U.N. workers and diplomats in Libya has
done little to ease the plight of migrants abused in detention centres and
blocked from crossing the Mediterranean, migrants and aid workers say.
boat crossings from Libya dropped steeply from mid-2017 due an Italian-led push
to disrupt smuggling networks and boost Libyan coastguard interceptions.
agencies have tried to partner with the internationally recognised Government
of National Accord (GNA), which was set up in 2016, to help those stranded
inside the country.
the United Nations and rights groups say migrants are still frequently exposed
to torture, forced labour and rape.
picked up by the coastguard under EU-backed measures to try to stop them
reaching the bloc are returned to detention centres nominally run by the GNA,
one of Libya’s two rival governments, where they can languish for months while
they plan for another crossing or seek repatriation or resettlement.
control, however, often lies with local armed groups.
police here do whatever they want to us. If they want to beat us they beat us …
no one can protect us,” said one Eritrean migrant who was transferred from a
centre in Tripoli to the southern city of Sabha after being intercepted at sea
in December 2017, and spoke to Reuters by phone.
two days we get one meal. We drink saltwater, we don’t get any medical
treatment.” A senior guard shot at migrants when they demanded food, injuring
one of them in the hand, he said, echoing testimony reported by rights groups
in the country.
have sometimes been left underfed or deprived of assistance because of
corruption or power struggles among guards and officials, aid workers say.
During militia battles, migrants have been abandoned to their fate.
Eritrean man held reached by phone at Tariq Siqqa centre in Tripoli said some
migrants won release by bribing guards or working for no pay. “They go and work
in their homes and after that they go free. There is much corruption here.”
from the GNA’s interior ministry and its illegal immigration department did not
respond or could not be reached for comment. In the past they have denied
allegations of abuse and said migrants were detained for their own protection.
centres currently hold some 5,200 migrants, a fraction of the hundreds of
thousands present in Libya, but numbers can suddenly swell due to new
coastguard interceptions or clashes.
number of migrants held in the cities of Misrata and Khoms rose from 650 at the
start of the year to 930, “leading to further deterioration of already dire
detention conditions”, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said last week.
are suffering from malnutrition, hypothermia, or severe diarrhoea, and some
were systematically abused and tortured by traffickers before trying to cross
by sea, MSF said.
Rights Watch said last week that it had heard “disturbing accounts from both
adults and children of violence by guards, including beatings, whippings and
use of electric shocks” in detention centres in Misrata, Tajoura, and Zuwara.
to detention centres for humanitarian workers who provide basic supplies and
healthcare, often through EU-funded programmes, is unpredictable.
committed to making Malaysia Shariah-compliant model country
Jan 31 — Missionary body, Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim), is
committed to making Malaysia a shariah-compliant model country to the rest of
the world, says its president, Nik Omar Nik Abdul Aziz.
said the foundation would also be boosting relations and interaction with
Islamic non-governmental organisations towards making them its strategic
partners to achieve Yadim’s mission and vision, besides contributing to the
development of the ummah (Muslim community).
Omar said Yadim’s main focus was on missionary work, besides education, welfare
and social well-being through its vision of changing way of thinking, giving
advice and helping Muslims to manage their lives better.
will also focus on recruiting individuals as preachers who truly understand
Islam, and on using the best approach to preaching the religion to Muslims and
Omar, meanwhile, said Yadim’s new Board of Trustees comprised knowledgeable and
experienced individuals with their own strengths and from different backgrounds
like religious, academic and legal, hence they would be able to generate ideas
and give advice to the Yadim management.
varied backgrounds and experience are indeed suitable for an agency like Yadim
to pursue its agenda, that is, placing Islam in its real position in Malaysia
through preaching the religion with full of wisdom.
Omar also thanked Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for agreeing to the
appointment of 12 individuals to Yadim’s Board of Trustees. — Bernama
- As a child, Ms Liyana Abdul Rahaim watched as her parents struggled
financially to support the family, which included her wheelchair-bound
intellectually disabled elder brother.
experience spurred her to help people in need.
part of a middle-income family trying to cope, I saw our struggles growing up.
We had no financial assistance then and had to pay for the hospitalisation and
rehabilitation of my brother along with our daily expenses. Because of that I
want to help other families," said the 30-year-old, who has two children
of her own now.
Islamic Law and Jurisprudence graduate from Al-Azhar University in Egypt, who
has worked with organisations such as help-group Mendaki and educational
institution Simply Islam, joined the
Social Service Institute last year to
pursue a part-time course for a Diploma in Social Service. She is now a
community engagement executive with the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
from religious backgrounds like me usually pursue teaching. But I see social
work can also complement my religious background," she added. "I wish
to help create the awareness about social assistance for struggling families
and be able to assist families holistically. Many people are not aware of
social assistance programmes that are available."
Thursday (Jan 31), Ms Liyana and six other students received the Muis Social
Work Study Award during the Madrasah Teachers Symposium at Suntec Convention
award is for students pursuing social work and studies who, upon graduation,
contribute to the development of the Muslim community, said Muis chief
executive Esa Masood in his opening speech at the symposium.
year, Muis announced that it had set aside $150,000 until 2020 for the award.
Bursary distributing organisation Lembaga Biasiswa Kenangan Maulid (LBKM)
administers the funds.
first batch of seven students on Thursday received between $5,000 and $10,000
the symposium, Muis also presented the Muis50 Contemporary Madrasah Leader
Awards to six individuals who contributed towards the progress and achievements
had served as chairmen, committee members or principals of madrasahs for a
continuous period of at least 15 years.
them is the chairman of Madrasah Al- Ma'arif's management committee, Mr Ma'mun
Suheimi, 76. A Muis council member from 1995 to 2004, he continues to champion
Madrasah development and education.
said: "Madrasah education is progressing all the time, it is not static,
it is something that should continue to evolve to cater to the current
generations and future generations. For example, learning IT is important,
e-learning is important."
his opening address, Mr Esa said the award recipients had improved Islamic
education in Singapore.
drove initiatives in the early years and some continue to contribute in
different capacities to the madrasah sector today," he said.
the progress of madrasahs in Singapore, Mr Esa said that all four madrasahs
offering primary school education successfully scored above the Primary School
Leaving Examination (PSLE) benchmark over the last couple of years.
the first few years when the Compulsory Education Act was introduced, we were
worried about clearing the PSLE benchmark. But, in the last few years, all four
madrasahs offering primary education have successfully scored above the PSLE
benchmark," he said.
figures show that 96.8 per cent of the 251 Singaporean madrasah students who
sat for the PSLE in 2018 could proceed to secondary school.
guest of honour at the symposium was Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs and
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifl.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a return to “unity and harmony” on
Thursday as he welcomed gas-rich Qatar’s emir to Beijing, amid a dispute that
has seen some Arab states led by Saudi Arabia severing relations with Doha.
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic, trade and
transport ties with Qatar in June 2017. They accuse Qatar of supporting
terrorism and cultivating ties with Saudi Arabia’s regional foe, Iran. Qatar,
which denies the charge, says the boycott seeks to curtail its sovereignty.
has largely stayed out of the dispute, calling for the problem to be resolved
via talks, though has played host to senior Qatari officials since the spat
in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Xi told Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani
that regional cooperation was an important basis for prosperity in the Gulf
region, Chinese state television reported.
supports the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council to seek an “appropriate
resolution to disputes and contradictions via political and diplomatic means,
to return unity and harmony between Gulf and Arab countries”, Xi said.
is willing to continue to play a constructive role according to the wishes of
the Gulf Cooperation Council countries,” Xi added, according to the report,
which did not make direct mention of the Gulf rift.
remarks in front of reporters, Xi called Al Thani “an old friend and a good
Thani told Xi that he was very happy with their personal friendship. “We are
ready to have bigger investments in China, in infrastructure or in any other
field we see as important for us,” he said.
are happy to provide China with liquid gas and we are ready to provide China
with more in the near future. I am very happy to be in China.” Last October,
state energy giant Qatar Petroleum said it had signed a five-year agreement to
supply China with 600,000 tonnes of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) per year.
state news agency said Al Thani and Xi had signed memorandums of understanding
on diplomatic training, future trade delegations, and the creation of a road
map for Qatar to take part in China’s Belt and Road initiative.
ACEH: Two teenagers were whipped in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Thursday after
they were caught cuddling in public — a crime under the conservative region’s
is used as punishment for a range of offences in the region at the tip of
Sumatra island, including gambling, drinking alcohol, and having gay sex or
relations outside of marriage.
of spectators watched as a female university student and her boyfriend, both 18,
were whipped 17 times each outside a mosque in the provincial capital Banda
35-year-old man was also flogged with a rattan cane for being intimate with a
woman — aged 40 — in a local grocery store.
four had served several months in prison before the punishment.
Thursday, the 40-year-old woman pleaded to be caned in an apparent attempt to
get out of jail immediately, but a medical team postponed her flogging after
they deemed her physically unfit.
is the only province in the world’s biggest Muslim majority country that
imposes Islamic law.
outside of Aceh who think Islamic Sharia (law) is cruel can now see that it is
actually very tolerant and humane,” Banda Aceh deputy mayor Zainal Arifin told
December, two men caught having sex with underage girls were whipped 100 times
groups slam public caning as cruel, and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has
called for it to end.
the practice has wide support among Aceh’s mostly Muslim population — around
98% of its five million residents practise Islam.
this year, Aceh said that flogging would be carried out behind prison walls in
future, but some local governments have continued public whippings.
Feb 1 — The federal government must take note of widespread disapproval among
the Malays about Pakatan Harapan’s performance to date, Deputy Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.
to a recent Ilham Centre survey where approval ratings among Malay respondents
were only slightly above 40 per cent, Dr Wan Azizah said the current
administration needs to find a balance between populist measures and national
policy-making after taking over from Barisan Nasional.
read the survey. We must listen to the woes and opinions of the rakyat and take
steps to see if their (disapproval) was real or imagined.
majority of Malaysians are Malays so when they say the majority of them (are
unhappy), we have to take note and see what we can do to address it,” she told
reporters after distributing mandarin oranges for the coming Chinese New Year
festival to the public at the Taman Muda market here.
in as a new government following a change in 60 years, there are adjustments
that need to be done and only now we are able to find out.
take note of that and find ourselves wanting to do what is popular yet having
to consider what the country needs, what needs to be done for the economy and
take care of stability (of the country),” she said.
survey found that 59.5 per cent of 2,614 Malay respondents disapproved of the
new government’s performance in the five months after the 14th general
reasons for this negative view was the perception that PH was not adequately
pushing the “Malay agenda”, defending the community’s rights, or upholding
Islam’s position in the federation.
two in three were also convinced that DAP was the real force behind the
coalition, despite Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia providing the prime minister.
from the perceived failure to defend the Malays and Islam, six in 10 respondents
also felt the coalition was not doing enough to manage rising costs, which had
been a key platform prior to the general election.
Body parts thought to belong to suicide bombers who attacked a cathedral in the
southern Philippines have been recovered at the scene, officials said Thursday.
twin bombings on Jan. 27 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral on Jolo island
killed 21 people and injured more than 100.
possibility of a suicide bomber is there. All angles and possibilities are
being considered in the course of the investigation,” Col. Noel Detoyato, from
the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), told Arab News.
human remains were believed to belong to two people, although Detoyato added it
was hard to discern gender or nationality because they were “shredded” beyond
of the body parts were recovered from the church and at the road around 50
you look at it, it’s like two sets, (they don’t) belong to the same person.”
explained there was no way to piece together the body parts so was unable to
say if they belonged to the bombers.
Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said one of the survivors had reported
seeing a woman four seats in front leave behind a package.
said the woman may have met up with the other bomber at the church entrance.
we can only surmise, based on the body parts ... (it seems) the bodies were
really very close to the explosive,” he added.
said there would be a DNA test to see if the body parts belonged to a foreigner
would be “alarming” if the suicide bombing was carried out by a local, he said,
adding: “No Filipino would do that … unless Filipino militants have become so
fanatical that they would blow themselves up.”
military has been pursuing the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
is believed to be involved in the Jolo attack through its Ajang-Ajang faction,
according to AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr.
Rodrigo Duterte visited the attack site on Monday and ordered the military to
crush the ASG.
militant died in a subsequent army assault while another, named Kamah, escaped.
a known bombmaker and brother of a slain senior ASG figure, was part of a group
seen in CCTV footage running away from the cathedral’s vicinity moments after
Secretary-General of the Muslim World League (MWL) Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim
Al-Issa has condemned the twin bombings that targeted a mosque and a cathedral
in the Philippines.
a statement issued by the MWL, Al-Issa stated: “These acts go against Islamic,
human and international principles and values. Terrorism is a losing cause
because such barbaric behaviors will only consolidate religious, national and
human unity. They will not be able to undermine these shared values found in
aim of this act was to destabilize and undermine national unity. It should be
faced with solidarity, so the terrorists do not achieve their goal.”
government has the key for peace, reconciliation: Ashraf Ghani
Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan government has the key for peace
and reconciliation since a proper plan, program, and road map is available with
made the remarks during the national conference of youths and peace which was
organized in Loya Jirga auditorium hall on Wednesday.
the meantime, he emphasized that the government wants unconditional
negotiations with the Taliban but reconciliation process has conditions.
comes as efforts are underway to launch direct negotiations between the Afghan
government and Taliban group to end the violence in the country but the Taliban
has so far rejected to hold talks with the government.
response to Taliban’s stance for considering the government as illegitimate and
refusing direct talks, President Ghani questioned the legitimacy of Taliban
group and the justification the group offers for waging war.
Ghani said the religious scholars have denounced the killings of civilians and
suicide attacks during the gatherings in Mecca and Indonesia.
explained that the authority of the president lies with the nation and has been
specified by the constitution of the contry.
Ghani also questioned if Taliban has any plan for peace and if the authority of
the group lies with the leaders of the group or with the foreigners.
also added that the government respects the views of Taliban and the group
should also respect the will of the Afghan people.
least 19 Taliban militants and a member of ISIS Khurasan (ISIS-K) group
renounced violence in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, the provincial
government media office said late on Wednesday.
to the local officials, the militants were previously involved in destructive
activities in Khogyani, Achin, Momandara, Ghani Khel and Haska Mina districts.
Kakar, deputy advisor to Nangarhar’s governor for social affairs, said the
militants renounced violence due to the efforts of the Afghan Intelligence,
National Directorate of Security (NDS).
also added that the militants have also handed over heavy and small fire arms
after renouncing violence.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday dismissed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s
assertion about the country being a safe haven for cross-border militant
activities, and urged him to exercise caution while issuing such statements.
Ghani had said on Wednesday that the “keys to war are in Islamabad, Quetta,
Rawalpindi,” suggesting that Pakistan was providing safe havens to the Taliban
and other militants to indulge in cross-border activities.
statements have undermined the (Afghan) peace process in the past and one
should refrain from issuing these kind of statements,” Dr. Mohammed Faisal,
Foreign Office spokesperson, said while addressing a weekly press briefing here
said that the relationship between Afghan officials and the Taliban was
Afghanistan’s internal matter and “hopefully all stakeholders will be able to
resolve their issues peacefully.”
when asked about the ongoing negotiations between the US and the Taliban to
reach a political settlement to the Afghan conflict which has entered its 18th
year, he said: “It is a very difficult
and sensitive matter, but things are progressing in the right direction.”
US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad,
briefed Ghani in Kabul on Sunday night about the progress made in the six-day
peace talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
had hailed “significant progress” in the talks to end the decades-old conflict
through a negotiated settlement.
here were more productive than they have been in the past ….. will build on the
momentum and resume talks shortly,” he tweeted after the talks.
the Taliban have so far denied to initiate direct talks with the Afghan
government by terming it as a “puppet” of the West and “illegitimate” — a major
obstacle in the peace process.
apparently has also frustrated Ghani who questioned the legitimacy of the
Taliban on Wednesday for carrying out suicide attacks and other acts of
terrorism in the war-torn country.
the Afghan government is illegitimate, so where does the Taliban get their legitimacy
from?” he said.
scholars in Makkah and Indonesia said that suicide attacks and killing of
civilians does not have a legitimacy ... so where is the source of Taliban’s
Foreign Office, however, expressed optimism about the future of the peace
process by welcoming the appointment of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the head
of the Taliban’s political office in Doha. “This is producing positive
results,” Dr. Faisal said.
added that Pakistan has played its role by bringing the Taliban to the
negotiating table and will continue to facilitate the peace process.
pressure needs to be put on Myanmar so that the country develops a favorable
environment for the Rohingya to return home, said Bangladesh’s foreign minister
Abdul Momen made the remarks on Thursday in a meeting in the capital Dhaka with
Earl Robert Miller, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh.
also raised the issue of creating a “safe zone” inside Myanmar’s Rakhine state
for the Rohingya and sought cooperation from the U.S. in resolving the crisis.
relocating some Rohingya to Bhashan Char, a remote islet at the entrance to the
Bay of Bengal prone to natural disaster, Momen told Miller that around 100,000
Rohingyas are planned to be relocated there on a voluntary basis.
stressed the Rohingya will have opportunities to earn a livelihood there,
promising safety and saying the islands will be like Singapore.
of the 750,000-plus Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh currently live in the
country's southeast in areas such as Cox's Bazar, after fleeing violence and
persecution in Myanmar.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced
heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in
to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and
children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces
launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s
state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development
than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others
were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The
18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and
over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it
UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and
young children – brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state
Mohammad, a slight 10-year-old with a guarded manner, used to love school. But
as a fourth-grader in 2017, he saw his parents’ house burned down by the
Myanmar military, his grandfather shot and killed, and his mother forced to
deliver a baby in the forest as his family fled along with hundreds of
thousands of other Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.
who used to dream of becoming a doctor, is now prone to long silences and mood
swings, and he rarely smiles.
changed him,” said his father, Mohammad Eleyas. And “not having a school has
made things worse.”
been 16 months since a brutal Myanmar military operation left thousands of
Rohingya Muslims dead and sent at least 800,000 fleeing over the border to
Bangladesh. Now, in what has become the world’s largest refugee settlement,
there are half a million children in need of a formal education, which an
international relief effort is failing to provide.
more, some question whether aid agencies vying for funds are as interested in
looking good to potential donors as in providing a basic education to the
children they say they are serving.
families and Bangladeshi officials sharply criticize the United Nations-backed
humanitarian operation — which has received $655 million in international aid
over the last year — for providing inadequate classrooms and curriculum. The
needs are particularly great, they say, because most refugees have little hope
of returning to Myanmar anytime soon.
Myanmar, hatred for Rohingya Muslims runs so deep that a diplomat called them
'ugly as ogres' — and got promoted »
Rohingya Muslim children in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar were already denied
an education following a harsh clampdown begun in 2012. Government schools that
were teaching Rohingya children in the Burmese language quickly shut down after
the Myanmar army offensive began in August 2017.
say the makeshift learning centers — operating out of temporary bamboo
structures slightly larger than huts — established by the U.N. Children’s Fund,
or UNICEF, and its partner agencies are little more than play areas where
children are taught songs and rhymes, often in English, with little emphasis on
the reading, writing and other skills many were taught in regular schools back
in Myanmar before the violence.
parents say they are frustrated to see children being trained to recite songs
like “We Shall Overcome” for foreign visitors and dismiss the facilities as a
waste of time. Many children simply stop going.
few families who can afford it are spending what little cash they have on
private tutors to ensure their children learn.
teach our children the same rhymes over and over again,” Eleyas said. “Ibrahim
gets bored and doesn’t want to go to school anymore.”
anger came to a boil in December, when officials from Bangladesh’s Refugee
Relief and Rehabilitation Commission — the government agency overseeing the
humanitarian response — accused UNICEF and 10 of its partner agencies of
incorrectly reporting the numbers of children attending learning centers, as
well as engaging in other questionable practices.
commission said it had found that aid agencies were not tracking the numbers of
children who had stopped attending the learning centers, resulting in vastly
inflated enrollment numbers that they used to appeal for more donor funding,
according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Times.
commission also received reports that some agencies were opening new centers
alongside existing ones run by other groups even though the additional
facilities were not needed in those locations. They did so, the commission
found, to “poach” children and increase their headcount to help with donor
the commission did not single out individual agencies for wrongdoing, 10
international and Bangladeshi groups were summoned for a meeting.
Bangladeshi officials on the commission, Shammimul Haq Pavel and A.S.M. Obaidullah,
said UNICEF and its partners did not consult with the Bangladeshi government on
its strategies and ignored repeated requests for better communication,
according to the minutes, which officials confirmed were accurate.
is not a conflict zone like Yemen or Syria,” Pavel said, “where partners can
act without approval from local government.”
spokesman Jean-Jacques Simon acknowledged that there had been “communication
gaps.” He said officials responsible for education would soon work out of the
local government primary education office in Cox’s Bazar, the nearest city, to
improve contact with Bangladeshi authorities.
said UNICEF had agreed to amend the data on enrollment at learning centers to
account for children who stopped coming.
added that reports of “land grabbing” — setting up learning centers without
approval from camp authorities — were an outgrowth of crowding in the camps,
where more than 100 agencies are providing relief.
scarcity of the land available in the camp is a challenge for all agencies
working on the humanitarian response,” Simon said. “However, despite the
challenges, UNICEF is fully committed to providing education to Rohingya
head of the Bangladeshi commission, Mohammad Abul Kalam, said turf battles
between aid agencies were not limited to the education sector.
is unfortunate that competition arises between humanitarian actors,” Kalam said
in an email, “considering the high needs, insufficient financial and human
resources, and the extreme scarcity of land which characterizes this response.”
has warned of a “lost generation” of Rohingya children, who constitute 60% of
the camps’ population. They are visible everywhere, collecting firewood,
helping parents with household work, taking whatever odd jobs are available —
but often simply playing by the dirt roads.
of July 2018, some 1,200 learning centers were operating inside the camps, and
almost 140,000 children had been enrolled.
these facilities, Bangladeshi instructors teach children rhymes, dances and
proper hygiene. There are often donated toys and a place for younger children
to nap during the day. But most classrooms lack stationary, notebooks or
say the informal schooling targets younger children and does not include
reading, math or other basic subjects. According to the most recent UNICEF
data, 39% of children ages 4 to 14 don’t even attend the learning centers. That
figure is 97% for children 15 to 18, a group that UNICEF has warned is at risk
of sexual trafficking by criminal groups or other forms of exploitation.
Buthidaung township in the northern Rakhine state of Myanmar, where Eleyas grew
up, most teachers were Buddhists and stopped coming to Rohingya schools in the
months leading up to the army offensive.
we were children, we did not have a chance at education in Myanmar. Now, our
children are being robbed of this opportunity,” said Muhib Ullah, a community
leader who heads the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, an
activist organization in the camps. “Our community’s future depends on these
children having a right to education. When the learning centers were opened, we
were happy. But we realize our children learn nothing there. It’s been over a
year — how are the schools not working yet?”
Vincent, who leads education activities in the camps for UNICEF, said aid
agencies were finalizing a formal curriculum in Burmese, including all major
subjects, that would be rolled out to learning centers this year to provide
“more structured, quality education opportunities” for Rohingya children.
families who earn money in the camps by doing odd jobs are now paying as much
as $70 per month for private lessons in math, science and English for their
children. Educated Rohingya refugees tutor students using Burmese textbooks
brought in through informal networks, at religious schools and in families’
earned a master’s degree in geography from Sittwe University in the Rakhine
state capital, the only college Rohingya Muslims were able to attend due to
travel restrictions. He has hired tutors to teach Ibrahim history.
At least 43 journalists have been arrested in Myanmar since democratic
elections were held in 2015, according to a landmark new report from Human
approximately 140 cases of defamation have been brought - which carries a
penalty of up two years jail - under section 66 [d] of the country's
Telecommunications Law according to the report, which cities statistics from
Myanmar civil society group Athan.
report, Dashed Hopes - the criminalisation of peaceful expression in Myanmar,
sets out in detail how journalists have been targeted, freedom of expression
curtailed and how laws have been enacted and amended to cover up corruption
allegations and military abuses of Rohingya Muslims, in Rakhine State.
covers the period since the National League for Democracy took power in March
2016, with Aung Sang Suu Kyi as its figurehead and state counsellor [she is
barred from being President under the constitution], in what is the first
democratically-elected government since 1962.
as new media organisations have begun to blossom in Myanmar, report author
Linda Lakhdir said “abuses against the press under Myanmar’s new government
have been particularly striking".
San Suu Kyi’s government has had a real opportunity to abolish the tools of
oppression used by the military juntas, but has instead used them against
peaceful critics and protesters,” she said.
report comes as Myanmar's government, particularly Suu Kyi, has faced wave
after wave of international condemnation for the expulsion of more than a
million Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh.
UN has documented mass gang rape, killings, brutal beatings and the torching of
homes and people.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne met Suu Kyi as recently as December 2018 and
Australia has been criticised for providing funds to help Myanmar's military.
famous case of how the media has been targeted in Myanmar is that of two
Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who investigated the military's
activities in Rakhine State, which is home to the Rohingya population.
pair uncovered evidence of a massacre at Inn Din, met police at a restaurant
while seeking more information and received a cache of documents in December
were arrested immediately afterwards and have been prosecuted for violating the
Official Secrets Act, concluding in their conviction and a seven year jail
sentence in September 2018. Their appeal to Myanmar's High Court was thrown out
in January 2019.
other less high-profile cases of legal abuse are also highlighted, including
that of Swe Win, a journalist and co-founder of Myanmar Now, which has reported
on the ultranationalist movement in the country including the killing of a
Muslim lawyer, U Ko Ni.
two years later, Swe Win is facing prosecution under section 66 [d] of the
country's Telecommunications Law for sharing a story online about an
ultranationalist monk who welcomed the murder of the Muslim lawyer.
report finds that it is the Telecommunications law that is most often used to
penalise peaceful expression in Myanmar, and not only by journalists.
students were convicted and fined for defamation after participating in a
satirical anti-war play that angered Tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces) officials,
while the father of one of the students, who streamed the play on Facebook, has
been jailed for three months under the Telecommunications law.
least 14 Taliban militants were killed or wounded during an operation of the Special
Forces of National Directorate of Security (NDS) in northern Kunduz province.
Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said
the operation was conducted in the vicinity of Khanabad district of the
statement further added that a compound of the Taliban was targeted during the
operation which left at least 11 Taliban dead and 3 others wounded.
caches of weapons and munitions were also destroyed during the operations, NDS
said, adding that Nikpai, Clinic, Syed Ramazan, Aab Garmak and Jang Bashi
villages were cleared of militants.
muscled out: Israeli mosque fires bodybuilder
Masri has been calling Muslims to prayer for nearly 15 years in an Israeli city
but his voice is now being silenced because he took part in a bodybuilding
interior ministry is stripping him of his role as chief muezzin of El-Jazzar
mosque in the northern city of Acre after having ruled that his participation
in the 2017 competition was "incompatible" with his religious role.
call Muslims to prayer five times a day through loudspeakers, with the most
renowned famed for their voice.
46-year-old Masri has been lifting weights since he was young and is well known
in Acre. He has never seen a contradiction between his sport and his religion.
is an unjust decision," he told AFP. "The religion of Islam
encourages any individual to practice sport."
ministry spokesman told AFP he had been fired over his inappropriate dress.
typically wear brief trunks during competitions and Masri has many photos in
who has bulging arms and weighs around 105 kilos (230 pounds), is a member of
Israel's Arab minority, who make up around 18 percent of the Jewish state's
2017, he took part in the Israel bodybuilding championships, winning in his
few months later he was summoned to a committee of religious officials in
showed me the pictures of me participating in the competition, and they
considered it was not appropriate for a muezzin to practice this sport,"
the father-of-three said.
said his scanty clothing was unacceptable for a religious figure.
interior ministry oversees the religious organisations of Christians, Muslims
and other non-Jewish minorities in Israel, and it has the final say over the
full-time muezzin's job.
said he sent them a letter apologising. "I told them I would not take part
in any more competitions.
knew I was involved in this sport before I was hired."
this month the ministry finally decided to dismiss him, and a spokesman told
AFP he was fired effective this week.
employee appealed to the state service commission, which concluded that the
ministry's conduct was flawless and the firing was approved."
voice more beautiful'
mosque in the Old City of Acre is one of the most beautiful in Israel, built in
Mediterranean city is considered a World Heritage Site, with its repository of
remains from the Crusades.
mosque is named after the local Ottoman ruler at the time it was built and its
design inspired by the famed mosques of Istanbul.
muezzin's firing has caused a stir among Acre's Muslim majority.
can they separate Ibrahim from his work just because he took part in a
competition?" asked Wissam Zalafi, a guard at the mosque.
don't have another muezzin with a voice as beautiful in all of Acre."
Mohammed Kiwan, the mosque's head imam, or prayer leader, said Masri had not
asked the administration before entering the bodybuilding competition.
is not permissible for him to expose his modesty in front of men, women and
the imam said he was in favour of giving Masri a final warning and agreed that
he had a beautiful voice.
worked out throughout his time as a muezzin and even helped open a club to
train young people in Acre.
Khatib, 19, said the club had helped him focus and to find a job.
has filed an appeal, which will be heard next month, and has started a petition
by local supporters.
Mushahee, an 80-year-old who prays at El-Jazzar, said the decision would damage
made umra and there is no voice anywhere more beautiful than his," said
Mushahee, referring to the mini-pilgrimage to Mecca.
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the terrorists as
saying on Thursday that the Turkish military and intelligence officials have
promised the ringleaders of Ahrar al-Sham, Nour al-Din Zinki and the so-called
National Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups that they will merge them
along with Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the
Al-Nusra Front) within the framework of a military organization.
added that Turkey has also promised them to set up a parliament and an
autonomous government after dissolution of Tahrir al-Sham in territories
occupied by the militants, adding that Faylaq al-Sham which has recently been
joined by 18 other terrorist groups in Northern Idlib and Western Aleppo is due
to be the political branch of the new organization and Tahrir al-Sham will take
the responsibility for its military wing.
military experts warned that Turkey's measures are against the Sochi agreement
to establish a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria and the Turkish president's
promises to his Russian counterpart in the last week meeting in Moscow, adding
that the move by Ankara has left the Syrian army with the only option of
cleansing Tahrir al-Sham from the demilitarized zone.
reports earlier this month also said that the terrorists of Tahrir al-Sham are
pursuing the new scenario to establish a new integrated military organization
in Idlib after the terrorist group extended its presence in the province in
cooperation with Turkey.
terrorists of the National Liberation Front (NFL) affiliated to the Turkish
Army will soon be dissolved in Tahrir al-Sham as the militant groups have
agreed to form an integrated military structure," the Arabic-language Enab
Baladi affiliated to militants quoted a source close to Ankara-backed Free
Syrian Army (FSA) as saying.
source noted that the scenario started after Tahrir al-Sham's dominance over
most of Idlib's regions.
said that according to the plan, Idlib province will be divided into two
sections in political and military terms; the Ankara-backed Faylaq al-Sham
terrorists will take charge of the political affairs and Tahrir al-Sham will
represent the military wing.
and European officials expressed concern and regret on Wednesday over Israel’s
decision not to renew the mandate of an international monitoring group in the
occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established after a
massacre of Palestinians in 1994.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Monday he would not extend its
mandate, accusing it of bias.
Palestinians labelled the move a “green light” for Israeli settlers in the city
to carry out abuses.
think nations should stand tall against this,” PLO secretary general Saeb
said Israeli settlers and soldiers had committed “40,000 attacks and violations
against the Palestinian people in Hebron” since the TIPH was formed, without
giving a source for the figure.
what will they do without the presence of this force.”
countries which staff the mission also opposed the Israeli decision.
have learned of this decision with regret but we continue our efforts,” Italy’s
Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi told Italian news agencies.
and the other countries of the mission deeply regret the Israeli statements,” a
Swedish foreign ministry spokesman said.
believe that the mission is important and should continue.”
Norway-led team is comprised of 64 observers tasked with promoting security for
Palestinians in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank.
mission was created after 29 Palestinian worshippers in a mosque were gunned
down by an American-born Israeli settler.
carry out daily patrols and document rights abuses they witness, although they
are not allowed to intervene.
mission reports its findings to its member countries - Italy, Norway, Sweden,
Switzerland and Turkey - as well as the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.
is holy to both Muslims and Jews and has been a flashpoint in the
least 600 Jewish settlers live under heavy military guard in the city, which is
home to around 200,000 Palestinians.
deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk, says the resistance
movement will not take part in any puppet Palestinian government in Ramallah,
noting such a government will be “devoid of any national legacy and would
strive to promote division” just like its predecessors.
in a post published on his official Twitter page on Wednesday, said officials
from the Ramallah-based Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would not
invite Hamas to participate in such a Palestinian government in the first
place, emphasizing that the movement would turn down such an offer even if it
asserted that a new government in Ramallah would work on realizing US President
Donald Trump's "deal of the century."
so-called deal, a back channel plan to allegedly reach a peace settlement
between the Israelis and the Palestinians, was proposed by the US
administration in September 2018. Although the plan has not been released,
leaks signal it will consist of the same tried and failed ideas.
little is known about the controversial deal, leaks have suggested that it
regards East Jerusalem al-Quds as Israeli territory, whereas Palestinians view
the eastern sector of the occupied city as the capital of their future state.
also 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.
Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah officially submitted his resignation and that
of his unity government to President Mahmoud Abbas on January 29, casting doubt
on the prospects of reconciliation efforts with Hamas.
had been facing pressure from his ruling Fatah movement over the past few weeks
to remove Hamdallah from power, and establish a new government comprised of
representatives from PLO factions in addition to independent figures.
headed the Palestinian National Consensus Government, which was formed after
Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement in 2014.
leaders said there was no point in keeping the government in power in the wake
of the continued crisis between their faction and Hamas.
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