Pakistan frees 78 Indian fishermen

Sun, 2017-07-09 14:33

KARACHI: Pakistan on Sunday released 78 Indian fishermen held for trespassing into its territorial waters, officials said.
“The fishermen were released from Karachi’s Landhi jail,” an official of the provincial Home Department of Sindh, Naseem Siddiqui told AFP.
The freed fishermen are expected to cross over into India on Monday.
Siddiqui said “298 Indian fishermen are still imprisoned and will be released on completion of the verification of their nationalities by India.”
Indian and Pakistani fishermen are frequently detained for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.
The fishermen often languish in jail, even after serving their terms, as poor diplomatic ties between the two neighbors mean fulfilling bureaucratic requirements can take a long time.
Relations between India and Pakistan have plummeted since a deadly attack on an Indian Army base in the disputed region of Kashmir in September, that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947. Both claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region.

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Western doctors say Chinese Nobel winner can travel

Sun, 2017-07-09 12:15

SHANGHAI: US and German medical experts who examined Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo said Sunday it was safe to transport him abroad for cancer treatment, contradicting the assertions of Chinese doctors.
The statement by the foreign physicians looked likely to add to international pressure on China to release its most prominent democracy advocate for treatment overseas.
The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang where Liu is being treated for late-stage liver cancer had said Saturday it was “unsafe” for him to travel due to his deteriorating condition.
But American oncology expert Joseph Herman from the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center and German doctor Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University, who visited Liu on Saturday, said otherwise.
“While a degree of risk always exists in the movement of any patient, both physicians believe Mr. Liu can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support,” they said in a joint statement.
“However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible.”
Their statement added that both of their respective institutions had agreed to accept Liu for treatment.
Beijing has come under fire from human rights groups over its treatment of Liu and for waiting until he became terminally sick to release him from prison more than a month ago.
Liu, 61, and his family want him to be allowed to seek treatment abroad.
Rights activists and Chinese dissidents accuse Beijing of stalling and falsely claiming Liu is too sick to travel for fear of giving him a platform to speak freely overseas.
“The statement by the two experts shows that the Chinese authorities lied when the hospital released the statement yesterday,” Amnesty International China researcher Patrick Poon said.
“The Chinese government should face it instead of covering up and faking news any more. They should respect Liu Xiaobo’s wish to leave the country before it’s too late.”
Herman and Buchler said they “acknowledge the quality of care” that Liu had received at the Chinese hospital.
But while noting that the hospital is recommending a focus on relieving the symptoms of Liu’s terminal illness, the foreign doctors implied that more could be done.
“Additional options may exist, including interventional procedures and radiotherapy,” they said.
That appeared to jar with the hospital’s account of their visit.
The hospital has said Saturday that the Western experts claimed they knew of “no better method” for treating Liu other than the care he was now receiving.
Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China’s one-party Communist system.
He was later sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for “subversion” after calling for democratic reform. At the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.
He is also known for his efforts to help negotiate the safe exit from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military violently suppressed the protests.
A group of Liu’s friends fear he is near death and they issued an open letter earlier this week calling on the Chinese government to give them access to him on “humanitarian” grounds.
Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese activist and good friend of Liu, called for increased pressure on China in the wake of the doctors’ statement.
“Now we’re waiting for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to unlock the doors of Liu’s prison. Liu’s supporters need to increase the pressure,” Hu said.

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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe in Singapore for medical check

Sun, 2017-07-09 12:36

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe is in Singapore for a “routine medical check-up,” state media reported Sunday.
“President Mugabe on Friday left the country for Singapore for a routine medical check-up,” the Sunday Mail newspaper reported.
The paper said the veteran ruler is expected back in Zimbabwe midweek.
Mugabe’s medical trips to the Southeast Asia city state have become more frequent in recent years. His previous visit was in May, also said to be for a “routine medical check-up.”
In 2011 and 2014 he had eye surgery in a hospital in Singapore.
Mugabe now walks with difficulty and sometimes dozes off during meetings.
His health has been the subject of increased speculation in recent years and authorities in March arrested two journalists over a report alleging that he was “in bad shape.”
In 2016, the government had to deny that he had died abroad during his annual vacation.
Mugabe has declined to name a successor and his ruling ZANU-PF party has been riven by factionalism for years.
Despite Mugabe’s advanced age, the party last year endorsed him as its candidate for the 2018 general elections.
The leader is not the only African president currently abroad for treatment for an undisclosed condition.
Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari has been in London since May 7, and his lengthy absence has caused political uncertainty in Africa’s most populous nation.
Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos recently spent a month in Spain for medical treatment and on Monday officials announced that he had gone back for what was described as a “private visit.”

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UK Muslim man stopped for wearing too much clothing

Aisha Fareed | Arab News Staff
Sun, 2017-07-09 22:15

JEDDAH: In London wearing too much clothing in hot weather is not only a fashion crime, but may also leave you being stopped and searched by police.
A Muslim man discovered this the hard way when he was stopped, handcuffed and searched in a London street by officers as he walked to a nearby mosque to pray.
The police claimed the unnamed man was stopped because the three layers of clothing he was wearing in the height of summer, with temperatures peaking at 25°C, gave cause for suspicion.
In a statement released by the man through Documenting Oppression Against Muslims (DOAM), he said he was rushing to the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park for Friday prayers. “I was rushing to Jummah Salat (Friday prayer) and, when I was near the Masjid (mosque) all of a sudden the police come and put handcuffs on me,” said the man. “The woman (who stopped me) — the undercover police officer said I was wearing too many clothes… but I was wearing two layers of clothes.”
In a video shot by a man, who said he was Muslim and wanted to document the encounter, the police can be seen searching the handcuffed man’s clothes.
“The police falsely accused me of carrying a weapon,” the man’s statement added. “They searched me and found nothing as usual.”
He was released shortly after. “They took my date of birth, address and name and they let me go,” he added.

Muslim man stopped, handcuffed and searched because he was wearing too many clothes! #WearingClothesWhileMuslim

— DOAM (@doamuslims) July 7, 2017

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Iraqi Prime Minister Declares Mosul “Liberated” From The Islamic State

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul on Sunday to announce the city’s “liberation” from the Islamic State, and to congratulate the Iraqi armed forces and people on their “victory” in the city after nearly nine months of urban warfare, and bringing an end to jihadist rule in the city, the WSJ reported. As a reminder, Mosul is where the Islamic State achieved its greatest military victory when it captured the city in just four days in June 2014 and handed the Iraqi military a humiliating defeat, sending shock waves through the region. Subsequent looting of Mosul’s central bank provided the Islamic State with over $400 million in “seed funding” which the terrorist organization promptly put to bad use.

The Iraqi PMI was expected to make an official victory announcement in the northern city later Sunday, after U.S.-backed Iraqi forces waged more than eight months of battle to reclaim it.

Troops have in recent days been fighting to clear the final Islamic State-occupied pockets of Mosul’s dense Old City, on the western bank of the Tigris river.


Loaders and other heavy machinery cleared paths for Iraqi soldiers, who appeared at ease ahead of the recapture, despite bursts of gunfire nearby.

At the same time, the U.S.-led coalition said Sunday it had carried out two strikes near Mosul that destroyed 21 Islamic State fighting positions. Reporting on location, the WSJ adds that Humvees patrolling the area rolled over downed electrical lines “in a stark indication of the toll the siege has taken on Mosul’s infrastructure and the likely high cost of rebuilding the city and resuming basic services there.”

The symbolic victory takes place three years after the Islamic State seized Mosul in a 2014 blitz that saw it capture one-third of Iraq’s territory, including the northern city. The battle for Mosul – by far the largest city to fall under the militants’ control – left large areas in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly one million people.

“The commander in chief of the armed forces (Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and Iraqi people for the great victory,” his office said in a statement.

As Reuters adds, Abadi met commanders in west Mosul who led the battle, but he has yet to issue a formal declaration that the entire city has been retaken for the group which is also known as ISIS. Still, French President Emmanuel Macron – whose country is part of the coalition that has conducted airstrikes and provided training and assistance to Iraqi forces on the battlefield, welcomed the defeat.

“Mosul liberated from ISIS: France pays homage to all those, who alongside our troops, contributed to this victory,” Macron said on Twitter.

Mossoul libérée de Daech : hommage de la France à tous ceux, avec nos troupes, qui ont contribué à cette victoire.

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) July 9, 2017

The Islamic State lost its administrative grip over Mosul in October, when government forces pushed it from the eastern half of the city, and its ultimate defeat here was all but a foregone conclusion. In its final days, the terrorist group mustered only a couple hundred fighters, cornered on a tiny patch of territory on the western bank of the Tigris River.

Source: ISW

The loss of Mosul, while largely expected, is a major blow for ISIS, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where it has planned global attacks.  Amusingly, ISIS had group vowed to “fight to the death” in Mosul, but Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state TV that 30 militants had been killed attempting to flee by swimming across the River Tigris that bisects the city. Cornered in a shrinking area, the militants have resorted to sending women suicide bombers among the thousands of civilians who are emerging from the battlefield wounded, malnourished and fearful, Iraqi army officers said.

That said, the Islamic State is far from vanquished in Iraq and elsewhere in the region It still controls small swaths of Iraq and large stretches of neighboring Syria. Its members and followers, more dispersed than ever, are likely to pose a terrorist threat in Baghdad, the Middle East and beyond for years to come. As the WSJ adds, “Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul would be a major military, psychological and political blow for the ruthless Sunni Muslim militant group.

What happens next?

Aside from Mosul, across the border in Syria a battle is raging to dislodge IS from Raqqa, the second capital of its self-declared caliphate. Fighting will push down the Euphrates valley to Deir al-Zour, the jihadis’ last big urban stronghold.

But the fall of Mosul also exposes ethnic and sectarian fractures that have plagued Iraq for more than a decade.

The victory risks triggering new violence between Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories or between Sunnis and Shi’ites over claims to power, egged on by outside powers that have shaped Iraq’s future since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni minority-rule and brought the Iran-backed Shi’ite majority to power.


For Iraq, stunned by the blitz on Mosul by Islamic State in 2014 and the collapse of its army, victory could thus turn out to be as big a problem as defeat. The federal model devised under the Anglo-American occupation and built on a power-sharing agreement between Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds collapsed into ethno-sectarian carnage spawned by the al Qaeda precursors of Islamic State.


In the three years since the jihadis swept across the border from Syria where they had regrouped in the chaos of the rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, IS was the rallying point uniting a fractured Iraq.


But now that the group faces military defeat, the unity that held Iraq together is starting to come apart.

Read more on the challenges faced by post-ISIS Iraq here.

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