Israel Is Working To Forge Ties With Bahrain, Chad And Sudan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Israel said working to forge ties with Bahrain amid unprecedented Gulf opening

News of effort to normalize relations with Manama comes after reports that Israel is eyeing ties with Sudan, as Chadian leader makes historic visit to Israel

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Bahraini voters queue outside a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. (AFP)

Israel is working to normalize ties with Bahrain, as Jerusalem ramps up its drive to forge more open relations with the Arab world amid shifting alliances in the Middle East driven by shared concerns over Iran, Hebrew-language news sites reported late Sunday.

The reports, sourced to an unnamed senior official, did not detail Israel’s efforts to get closer to Manama, but came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted he would soon travel to unspecified Arab states, during a press conference with visiting Chadian leader Idriss Déby Sunday.

Déby’s historic visit is part of a campaign to lay the groundwork for normalizing ties with Muslim-majority countries Sudan, Mali and Niger, according to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 news Sunday.

The revelation that Israel is actively working to forge closer ties with Bahrain comes as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is visiting the island kingdom. The prince, who is attempting to rehabilitate his image in the West after the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi, is seen as a key part of a US-backed drive for Gulf states to open their doors to Israel amid shared concern over Iran’s expansion in the region.

In May, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on Twitter that Israel has the right to defend itself against Iran.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, participates in a ministerial meeting with the foreign ministers of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, July 12, 2017. (US State Department, via AP)

Oman, which has often played the role of regional mediator, welcomed Netanyahu in a surprise visit last month, an apparent sign of Israeli progress in improving ties with Gulf countries.

At a security conference in Bahrain following the visit, Omani foreign minister also offered rare words of support for the Jewish state.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this. The world is also aware of this fact and maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same and also bear the same obligations,” Yussef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Oman on October 26, 2018 (Courtesy)

During a press conference with Déby on Sunday, Netanyahu remarked that “there will be more such visits in Arab countries very soon,” without providing details.

The Israeli premier has for years spoken about the warming ties between Israel and the Arab world, citing not only Iran as a common enemy but also many countries’ interest in cooperating with Israel on security and defense matters, as well as Israel’s growing high-tech industry.

The effort to forge ties with Sudan comes as Khartoum has looked to move closer to Sunni Gulf states after years as an ally of Iran.

In early 2017, Khartoum joined Sunni Bahrain and Saudi Arabia in severing its ties with the Islamic Republic.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir prepares to cast his ballot for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in Khartoum, Sudan, April 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa’ab Elshamy, File)

At the time, the country also appeared to make overtures toward Israel. Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a 2016 interview that Sudan was open to the idea of normalizing ties with Israel in exchange for lifting US sanctions on Khartoum. According to Hebrew-language media reports at the time, Israeli diplomats tried to drum up support for Sudan in the international community after it severed its ties to Tehran.

In the past, Sudan has allegedly served as a way-station for the transfer of Iranian weapons to the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. Israel has reportedly intercepted and destroyed transfers of weapons from Sudan bound for Gaza.

In 2009, the International Criminal Court also issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, relating to the bloody conflict in the western Darfur region.

However, since it broke ties with Iran, Sudan is no longer perceived by Israel as a threat, but rather as a potential ally.

New era

Earlier on Sunday, Déby became the first president of Chad to visit Israel and pledged a new era of relations when meeting Netanyahu, 46 years after ties were severed.

In remarks to journalists after a closed-door meeting, Déby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of reestablishing diplomatic relations.”

Déby said he was “proud” that he had accepted Israel’s official invite. “It can be called breaking the ice,” he said. “We came here indeed with the desire to renew diplomatic relations. Your country is an important country. Your country, like Chad, fights against terrorism.”

Chad, a Muslim-majority, Arabic-speaking country in central Africa, broke off relations with Israel in 1972.

Despite the lack of formal ties, both Déby and Netanyahu on Sunday stressed the centrality of security cooperation between the two countries.

Chad is also one of several African states engaged in Western-backed operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State jihadists in West Africa. Earlier this month, the US donated military vehicles and boats worth $1.3 million to Chad as part of the campaign against Islamist militancy in the country.

File: Chadian soldiers gather on February 1, 2015 near the Nigerian town of Gamboru, just across the border from Cameroon. (AFP/Marle)

Under Déby, Chad’s government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses and rigged elections. He took over the arid, impoverished nation in 1990 and won a disputed fifth term in April 2016.

On Sunday, Chadian security sources were quoted by Reuters saying that Israel had sent Chad arms and money earlier this year to help the country in its fight against Islamist groups. Netanyahu in his remarks to journalists thanked Déby for his visit and hailed “flourishing” ties between Israel and African nations. He declined questions about whether the two leaders discussed potential Israeli arms sales to Chad.

Netanyahu portrayed the unprecedented visit as the result of his hard-won diplomatic efforts, referring to his three visits to Africa over the last couple years and his surprise trip to Oman in October.

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israel’s diplomatic push in Africa is driven in part by a desire to ease air travel to Latin America. Flying in the airspace of traditionally hostile African countries — namely Chad and Sudan — would allow airlines to offer faster, more direct flights between Israel and the continent.

Channel 10 estimated that flying directly from Israel to Brazil over Sudan would shave some four hours off the average journey, which currently takes at least 17 hours, and requires a stopover in either Europe or North America.

Separately, Hadashot television news reported on Sunday that Netanyahu has secured reassurances from Oman that airlines flying to and from Israel — including national carrier El Al — would be permitted to fly over the kingdom’s airspace. The prime minister received this message during his surprise visit to Muscat last month — the first by an Israeli leader in over 20 years, the television report said.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

 

Amritsar grenade attack could be ‘terrorist act’, say Punjab police

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

INDIA Updated: Nov 18, 2018 17:13 IST

Amritsar Bomb blast,bomb blast in Amritsar,blast in Amritsar
Police inspect the site of blast at the Nirankari Bhawan, where two men on a motorcycle threw a grenade during a religious congregation, in Adliwal village near Amritsar, Punjab, Sunday, Nov 18, 2018.(PTI)

Punjab police said Sunday the grenade attack on a religious congregation on the outskirts of Amritsar city appears to be a “terrorist act”.

“It (this incident) appears to have a terror angle. Because it is against a group (of people) and it is not against any individual. There is no reason to throw a hand grenade on a group of people, so we will take it as a terrorist act. Till proven otherwise, prima facie we will take it as that,” Punjab Director General of Police Suresh Arora told PTI.

To a question, the DGP said there was no specific input about any possible attack on Nirankari Bhavan.

“There was no issue with this group as such… There was no specific input on (Nirankari Bhavan),” he said.

Three persons were killed and at least 10 injured in a grenade attack on a religious congregation on the city outskirts on Sunday, police said.

The attack took place inside the Nirankari Bhavan at Adliwal village near Amritsar’s Rajasansi, close to the international airport, police said.

A religious congregation of the Nirankari sect was being conducted inside the Bhavan at the time of the incident.

“A grenade was lobbed and three people have died in the incident while 10 have been injured in the incident, two of them critically,” Inspector General of Police S S Parmar, who visited the incident spot, told reporters.

He said about 200 devotees were inside at the time of the attack. No CCTV camera was installed at the premises, preliminary investigations found, he said.

“We have launched relief and rescue operations,” he said.

After the attack, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh reviewed the law and order situation and directed the Home Secretary, DGP (Law and Order) and DG Intelligence to rush to Rajasansi to supervise investigations.

First Published: Nov 18, 2018 17:00 IST

At Least 8 Dead At Pittsburgh Synagogue Execution, Many Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

(THOUGH I HAVE LITTLE TO NO FAITH IN PRESIDENT TRUMP AS A PERSON OR AS A LEADER HE IS STILL SOMETIMES CORRECT ON THE ISSUES FACING ALL OF US IN OUR DAILY LIVES, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE TIMES. SHOOTERS LIKE THIS ALWAYS GO TO TARGETS WHERE THEY KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE NO GUNS AVAILABLE TO SHOOT BACK AT THEM. THINK ABOUT IT, SYNAGOGUES, CHURCHES, SCHOOLS. THESE ARE SHOOTINGS DONE BY PURE COWARDS, THEY ARE CALLED SOFT TARGETS.) (THIS COMMENT IN RED IS BY TRUTHTROUBLES.WORDPRESS.COM ,OLDPOET56) 

Trump says Pittsburgh shooting has ‘little’ to do with gun laws, armed guard could have prevented tragedy

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump responded to the shooting in Pittsburgh, which left at least eight dead inside a synagogue, telling reporters that an armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

As Trump boarded Air Force 1 heading to Indianapolis, he told reporters he was monitoring the events unfolding near the Tree of Life Synagogue and said “something has to be done.”

But, Trump rebuffed questions about whether now was the time to examine gun laws.

“This has little to do with it if you take a look,” Trump said on gun laws. He continued, explaining armed guard could have prevented the tragedy.

“If they had protection inside the results would have been far better,” the president said. “Maybe it could have been a very much different situation.”

Police have a man in custody after the attack, which left at least eight dead and multiple people injured, including four police officers. Multiple media, including CNN, CBS and KDKA, identified the shooter as Robert Bowers.

Hello! We’ve got complete midterm election coverage right here. Let’s begin!

Teams of armed police swarmed the Squirrel Hill neighborhood near downtown Pittsburgh just before 10 a.m. Saturday. Residents were urged to shelter in place as armed law enforcement agents canvassed the neighborhood.

More: What we know about the shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

More: Shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue: Politicians, local leaders react to tragedy

Pittsburgh television station KDKA-TV and NBC reported that eight people have been killed and a number of others injured at Tree of Life synagogue. A male suspect has surrendered to police and three police officers were also reportedly shot, according to KDKA-TV.

Trump said he was monitoring the shooting and said the U.S. needed to “stiffen up” its death penalty laws.

“They should pay the ultimate price,” Trump said. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing what’s going on with hate in our country, frankly, and all over the world. And something has to be done.”

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Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Add IRGC and Individuals to Terror Lists

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain Add IRGC and Individuals to Terror Lists

Tuesday, 23 October, 2018 – 15:00
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards march during a military parade in Tehran September 22, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo
Riyadh- Asharq Al-Awsat
In multilateral action, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain added on Tuesday Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and senior officers of its Quds Force to their lists of people and organizations suspected of involvement in terrorism.

SPA quoted a statement from the security services saying Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, and the force’s Hamed Abdollahi and Abdul Reza Shahlai were named on the list.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s State Security Presidency and the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a US-Gulf initiative to stem finance to militant groups, sanctioned and designated nine individuals associated with the Taliban and their Iranian facilitators.

TFTC has taken action “in a collective effort to identify, tackle and share information related to terrorist financing networks and their activities of mutual concerns, including threats emerging from countries supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations,” a statement on SPA read.

It designated the following Taliban figures and Iranian facilitators: Mohammad Ebrahim Owhadi, Esmail Razzavi, Abdullah Samad Farugui, Mohammad Daoud Muzzamil, Abdulrahim Manan, Mohammad Naim Barich, Abdulaziz Shah Zamani, Sadr Ibrahim, and Hafiz Abdulmajid.

The center was established in May 2017 during US President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and the US co-chair the group and Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This action is the third collective TFTC designation action since the center’s establishment.

The TFTC is a bold and historic effort to expand and strengthen TFTC members cooperation to counter terrorist financing, coordination to disrupt funding of terrorism, sharing the information and capacity building to target the financing networks and the related activities that pose threats to the TFTC members national security.

As a result of this action, and pursuant to TFTC members domestic laws, all assets, properties and related revenues to these names will be frozen in the designating countries and persons are prohibited from engaging in any transaction with the designated names.

ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

ISIS Launches New Bloody Threats Against West

Monday, 22 October, 2018 – 08:45
New ISIS poster threatening to carry out attacks against the West. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
London- Asharq Al-Awsat
An ISIS-affiliated group threatened to launch new attacks in the West through a new poster celebrating the Orlando nightclub massacre.

The poster reminds of the June 2016 shooting rampage at the Pulse gay club that left 49 people dead and dozens more wounded.

It depicts a masked, gun-wielding militant in combat gear, an explosive, terror attack headlines, and the bloody caption, “Soon in your homelands”.

Notably, ISIS-affiliated groups routinely publish propaganda online threatening attacks against everything, from London’s Oxford Street shopping district to Halloween events in the US.

The post threatening new attacks was shared online by SITE Intel Group, which monitors terrorist activity on the internet.

In a related matter, a picture was published last week threatening a new attack in Paris, and it depicted a drone carrying explosives and a gun-wielding attacker at the Eiffel Tower.

The caption warned: “Await for our surprises”.

Orlando assassin Omar Mateen, 29, pledged allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call that he made during the attack, which at the time was the deadliest mass shooting in US history.

He claimed that the death of ISIS leader Abu Waheeb, who was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq just weeks earlier, motivated him to carry out the massacre along with US military action in Iraq and Syria.

Mateen was shot dead when a SWAT team stormed the nightclub.

In the aftermath, investigators said Mateen may have been inspired by ISIS, but there was no evidence that he was instructed by or had been in contact with any terrorists.

ISIS has suffered heavy losses over 2017 as major offensives in Iraq and Syria pushed them out of their strongholds.

Last year, ISIS propaganda encouraged militants to attack Christmas markets in Europe, including those in the UK, France, and Germany.

One poster depicted a militant with a blood-stained knife stalking a Christmas market near the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

Another depicted a masked terrorist preparing to decapitate Father Christmas in what appeared to be London’s Regent Street.

Afghanistan Elections Marred By Murders, Again, At Least 28 Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) At least 28 people have been killed in violent incidents across Afghanistan as people voted Saturday in long-awaited legislative elections, officials said.

Meantime, balloting hours were extended — some into Sunday — at many polling stations across the country after technical glitches and lack of staff delayed operations, leading to long lines, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, or IEC, said.
The elections already had been delayed for three years because of security concerns, and the assassination Thursday by the Taliban of an important provincial police chief only added to many Afghans’ sense of unease as they turned out to cast their ballots.
Afghan men line up to cast votes Saturday in Helmand province.

Seventeen civilians, 10 police officers and one army officer were killed, Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said, adding that at least 192 incidents had also left dozens of people injured.
One deadly attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who targeted a polling station in Kabul, the capital, said Basir Mojahid, a spokesman for the city’s police chief. The attacker was identified and detonated his bomb before reaching the station, he said. The death toll wasn’t immediately known.
An explosion in Kabul killed a child as voting was underway, Italian-run nongovernmental organization EMERGENCY said, adding that its staff had received 36 patients needing treatment.
Afghan women line up to cast their votes Saturday outside a polling station in Kabul.

Much rests on the vote: Hundreds of women and young people are among candidates standing for election, riding a wave of hope that the notoriously corrupt and inefficient political system in Afghanistan can be overhauled.
After casting his ballot Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked law enforcement, election officials and citizens who made the election possible, “despite the risks involved.”
“Today we proved together that we uphold democracy. With casting our ballots without fear we honor the sacrifices of the fallen,” he tweeted.
The Taliban had warned Afghans ahead of the vote not to participate in what they called “an American project from start to finish.”
It’s not yet clear how logistical problems at many polling stations will affect turnout figures, but the IEC said 401 polling stations would open on Sunday — including 45 stations in Kabul — due to Saturday’s technical and staffing issues.
Voter enthusiasm may already have been chilled by the killing of Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, Kandahar’s police chief, the latest in a long line of violent attacks in the country. Two Americans also were wounded in the shooting attack.
Voting in Kandahar was delayed for a week after Raziq’s death.
A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province.

‘This is a failed process’

Efforts were being made to resolve delays in the opening of some of the voting sites and centers due to technical issues, Shaima Alam Soroush, a deputy spokeswoman for the IEC, told reporters in Kabul.
A campaign manager, Israr Karimzai, told CNN that he had “20 reports of different centers across the country where people are being denied their right to vote” because “no ballot papers or no biometric devices or IEC staff have shown up” at the polling stations.
A candidate in Kabul told CNN she had been waiting for more than an hour to vote.
“This is a failed process,” Mariam Solaimankhil said.
Idrees Stanikzai, also in Kabul, told CNN that voters were complaining about still waiting for their polling station to open more than two hours after their arrival.
Afghan women wait in line to vote Saturday at a polling center in Herat province.

The head of the provincial council in Maidan Wardak province, Sharifullah Hotak, told local Afghan TV station Shamshad that the biometric system in voting centers was not working in the whole of the province.
And in Herat, hundreds of people were standing in line as polling stations there also experienced technical issues.
More than 20,000 polling stations were open across the country, with the exception of Kandahar and Ghazni provinces, where voting will take place at a later date, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said earlier.
Some 70,000 members of the Afghan forces have been deployed to ensure the security of the elections, he said.

Women and young people stand for election

The risks have not deterred more than 2,500 candidates nationwide, including more than 400 women, to run for 250 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament.
Maryam Samaa, a 26-year-old former journalist and news presenter on the nation’s largest private broadcaster, TOLO TV, felt a duty to stand, she told CNN. She is running for one of Kabul’s 33 parliamentary seats.
“It’s a responsibility every human being must take on,” she said. “Everyone has to question the society around them: Why is there so much inequity, and what is my role in reforming that society?”
Like many other young candidates, Samaa said she decided to run because there are few “actual representatives of the people” in the current parliament. Rather than the house of the people, Samaa said, the parliament has become a home for competing “mafia networks.”
Only 9.6% of respondents were satisfied with the work of the current parliament, a survey conducted this year by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, an independent research institute based in Kabul, found.

France points finger at Iran over bomb plot, seizes assets

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

France points finger at Iran over bomb plot, seizes assets

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Tuesday there was no doubt Iran’s intelligence ministry was behind a June plot to attack an exiled opposition group’s rally outside Paris and it seized assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.

The hardening of relations between Paris and Tehran could have far-reaching consequences for Iran as President Hassan Rouhani’s government looks to European capitals to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal after the United States pulled out and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

“Behind all this was a long, meticulous and detailed investigation by our (intelligence) services that enabled us to reach the conclusion, without any doubt, that responsibility fell on the Iranian intelligence ministry,” a French diplomatic source said.

The source, speaking after the government announced asset freezes, added that deputy minister and director general of intelligence Saeid Hashemi Moghadam had ordered the attack and Assadollah Asadi, a Vienna-based diplomat held by German authorities, had put it into action.

The ministry is under control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei,

“We deny once again the allegations against Iran and demand the immediate release of the Iranian diplomat,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The incident was a plot “designed by those who want to damage Iran’s long-established relations with France and Europe,” he said.

The plot targeted a meeting of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) outside the French capital. U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and several former European and Arab ministers attended the rally.

It unraveled after Asadi, an accredited diplomat in Austria, was arrested in Germany, two other individuals were detained in Belgium in possession of explosives, and one other individual in France.

On Monday, a court in southern Germany ruled the diplomat could be extradited to Belgium.

“We cannot accept any terrorist threat on our national territory and this plot needed a firm response,” the diplomatic source said.

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte, near Paris, France, June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

TARGETED ASSET FREEZES

The asset freezes targeted Asadi and Moghadam. A unit within the Iranian intelligence services was also targeted.

The French government gave no details of the assets involved, describing its measures as “targeted and proportionate”.

The diplomatic source said the freezes covered assets and financing means in France, although neither individual at this stage had any assets in the country.

“We hope this matter is now over. We have taken measures and said what we needed to say,” the source said, suggesting Paris was seeking to turn a page on the issue.

France had warned Tehran to expect a robust response to the thwarted bombing and diplomatic relations were becoming increasingly strained.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke to their Iranian counterparts about the issue at the U.N. General Assembly after demanding explanations over Iran’s role.

An internal French foreign ministry memo in August told diplomats not to travel to Iran, Reuters revealed, citing the Villepinte bomb plot and a toughening of Iran’s position toward the West.

Paris has also suspended nominating a new ambassador to Iran and not responded to Tehran nominations for diplomatic positions in France.

While not directly linked to the plot, the diplomatic source said a French police raid on a Shi’ite Muslim faith center earlier on Tuesday was aimed at also sending a signal at Iran.

The deterioration of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran.

France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Tehran agree to curbs on its nuclear program in return for a lifting of economic sanctions.

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte, near Paris, France, June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/File Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has said it expects renewed sanctions to hurt the Iranian economy hard.

Additional reporting by Paris bureau, Maria Sheahan in Frankfurt; Editing by Jon Boyle, William Maclean, Richard Balmforth

Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Lebanon Stresses Compliance With US Measures Against Hezbollah

Friday, 28 September, 2018 – 09:45
Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh delivers a speech during the plenary session of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in Tokyo. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao
Beirut – Nazeer Rida
The new US draft-law on Hezbollah is moving to an advanced stage involving media funders, economic and social institutions linked to the group, in what seems to be “an attempt to isolate the supporters of the party, which is facing increased financial pressure,” according to experts.

The new draft-law imposes sanctions on the supporters of “Bayt al-Mal” and “Jihad Al-Bina”, which is involved in construction works, as well as the party’s media institutions, and includes advertisers who broadcast ads through Hezbollah’s channels.

While the bill seeks to “increase pressure on banks dealing with the group,” Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday in response to a question about his willingness to enforce the sanctions: “We, as the central bank, issued circulars a while ago, and there aren’t new notices.” He explained and these circulars make Lebanon comply with the laws of countries that have currency or banks dealings with it.

He pointed out in a radio interview that those circulars were sufficient enough whatever the new sanctions, adding that there was nothing new on this subject.

The US House of Representatives unanimously voted to pass a bill calling for new and harsh sanctions against Hezbollah. The new sanctions aim to limit the party’s ability to raise funds and recruit members, as well as increase pressure on the banks that deal with the group and the countries that support it, especially Iran. The sanctions also prohibit anyone who supports the party materially and in other means from entering the United States.

According to Dr. Sami Nader, Director of Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs (LISA), the new bill shows that the circle of sanctions is widening, since it started with Hezbollah’s officials, then reached the entities associated with the party, and today includes the supporters of the group’s institutions.

 

 

MWL, Algerian Islamic Council Partner to Confront Extremism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

MWL, Algerian Islamic Council Partner to Confront Extremism

Tuesday, 25 September, 2018 – 11:15
Lebanon’s Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi receives MWL Chief Dr. Mohamed Al-Issa’s , Asharq AL-Awsat
Algeria, Beirut- Boualam Ghimrasah and Asharq Al Awsat
Religious authorities in Algeria partnered with the Muslim World League for organizing awareness campaigns against extremism in a number of Arab countries facing the threat of religious radicalism.

The partnership was struck during the MWL Chief Dr. Mohamed Al-Issa’s visit to Algeria, which lasted two days.

During his stay, Issa met Algeria’s Head of the Supreme Islamic Council Bouabdallah Gholamallah and other officials from both the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs Endowments and Ministry of Interior.

“The agreement between the two sides is aimed at using well-known Imams to carry out this mission, especially in the Sahel countries, such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where extremist groups are active and seek to recruit youth into armed action,” an insider source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The source said that Issa’s meetings tackled societies facing religious extremism, and praised the “policy for reconciliation” in Algeria, which swayed thousands of extremists into peaceful means of living.

The agreement encourages scholars and intellectuals to “renew religious discourse and propagate moderation, values of tolerance and dialogue, as well as to discuss plans to combat extremism and terrorism.”

The MWL has worldwide influence, so Algeria is looking forward to cooperating with it on exposing baseless arguments against Islam and Muslims, Gholamallah was quoted as saying.

For his part, Al-Issa said that the agreement signed with the Supreme Islamic Council framed the cooperation that will be carried out by both bodies with the main objective being to clarify the real face of Islam as a religion and abolish extremism and terrorist ideologies.

Most recently, Issa met with religious leaders on an official visit to Lebanon.

He started his visit by meeting with Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdullatif Durian, later meeting with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rahi.

During meetings, the secretary-general stressed the importance of dialogue in order to promote common values based on love, respect and cooperation, and to confront hatred.

He visited Elias Audi, Metropolitan bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch. They discussed bilateral cooperation and coordination.

Issa also met with the president of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council, Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan.

He also met with Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Al-Aql Naim Hassan, with Bishop Boulos Matar, Chaldean Bishop Michel Kasarji and Armenian Catholic Patriarch Krikor Bedros.

Israel: Parents say they alerted PA, Israel before deadly stabbing of Fuld

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Terrorist’s parents say they alerted PA, Israel before deadly stabbing of Fuld

Palestinian official says stabber’s father informed PA forces of son’s disappearance, while IDF says mother told soldiers that her son planned to commit an attack

17-year-old Khalil Jabarin, who fatally stabbed Israeli Ari Fuld in a West Bank terror attack on September 16, 2016 (Screenshot/Twitter)

17-year-old Khalil Jabarin, who fatally stabbed Israeli Ari Fuld in a West Bank terror attack on September 16, 2016 (Screenshot/Twitter)

The parents of a Palestinian teenager who carried out a deadly terror attack in the central West Bank on Sunday warned both Palestinian Authority and Israeli security forces about their son before the lethal stabbing, according to a senior PA official and Israeli military sources.

On Sunday, 17-year-old Khalil Jabarin of Yatta, a village south of Hebron, fatally stabbed 45-year-old Ari Fuld, an American Israeli resident of the Efrat settlement and a father of four, outside a shopping mall at the Gush Etzion Junction.

A senior PA official based in the southern West Bank said Jabarin’s father warned PA security forces that his son had gone missing Sunday morning, after he fought with him about going to school.

“The father and his son got into a fight this morning. The father wanted his son to go to school, but he refused and eventually the father beat him,” the official, who asked not to be named, told The Times of Israel. “The son then ran away and the father told the security forces that his son went missing. The security forces tried to find him, but they weren’t able to before [the stabbing].”

Ari Fuld, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist outside a West Bank shopping mall on September 16, 2018. (Facebook)

When asked if the PA security forces informed their Israeli counterparts that Jabarin had gone missing, the official said that the father had only informed them that his son had disappeared and not that he was planning to carry out an attack.

“All we knew was that the boy had run away. So we did not inform the Israeli side,” the Palestinian official said. “We did not know he was planning to carry out a stabbing.”

Jabarin’s mother, however, went to the nearby Meitar checkpoint in the southern West Bank and told soldiers, at approximately the same time the stabbing took place, that her son planned to commit an attack, according to the Israeli army.

She did not provide specific details about where or when she believed Jabarin would carry out an attack, the army said.

Israeli security forces planned to arrest members of the terrorist’s family in order to further investigate what information they had about his plans before he carried out the attack, the IDF added.

Shortly before noon on Sunday, Jabarin stabbed Fuld in the back, as they stood on the sidewalk outside the shopping mall, which is frequented by both Israelis and Palestinians.

Despite his wounds, Fuld chased and shot his attacker before collapsing to the ground. Fuld was rushed to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in serious condition. After resuscitation efforts failed, doctors there pronounced his death.

Jabarin was shot by Fuld and another armed civilian at the scene. He was taken to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus in moderate condition with multiple gunshot wounds, hospital officials said.

Ari Fuld, father of four, and resident of Efrat. Fuld was a member of the emergency squad in Gush Etzion, pictured here at a celebratory event on October 31, 2017, carrying his rifle with. He was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction on September 16, 2018. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90/File)

Jabarin’s grandfather, Jamal, who is also the principal at the school where Jabarin studied, said family members were concerned when the teenager did not show up to school Sunday morning.

“Nobody knows what happened exactly. At 7 a.m., the boy was missing, and we started searching for him everywhere. We even notified the Palestinian security forces and the coordination services with Israel [the Israeli Civil Administration],” Jamal Jabarin said.

“He told his mother he was going to train, and he wore sports clothes,” the principal added. “She waited for him to return.”

The family was stunned by the attack, he said, calling Khalil “a quiet boy, learned, respectful, conscientious.”

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