Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines Plan To Incease Anti-Terror Sea Patrols, With U.S., Australia to Assist

December 12, 2017

Philippine Star — December 12, 2017

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A member of Philippine Navy loads bullets for a machine gun during a bilateral maritime exercise in June 2014. AP/Noel Celis, file
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ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Security against cross-border kidnapping and piracy in waters shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines will be boosted when more joint patrols, which could include Australia and the US, are launched next year.
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Around $5 trillion in commercial cargo passes through the waters, which needs to be better secured against abductions and hijacking by groups affiliated with the Abu Sayyaf group.
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R.Adm. Rene Medina, commander of Naval Forces Western Mindanao, said the trilateral patrols with Malaysia and Indonesia in border waters have drawn more attention from the Australian and US navies, which have indicated interest in participating.
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Medina said the Philippine Navy held joint patrols with the Royal Malaysian Navy and Indonesian Navy late November. He said that arrangement will continue under the Trilateral Cooperative Agreement among the three countries.
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The Philippine Navy also held drills with the Royal Australian Navy along the southern border in late November. Medina said he and his Australian counterpart have discussed holding joint patrols aside from maritime exercises.
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“The US Navy was also talking with us on how they can come up or join in the area with regards to bilateral patrol,” Medina said. — Roel Pareño
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http://www.philstar.com/nation/2017/12/12/1767695/more-joint-patrols-along-southern-border-seen-2018

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Hardline Indonesian Muslim groups burn U.S., Israeli flags over Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 11, 2017

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Members of Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) burn a mock-up of the U.S. flag during a protest to condemn Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta Reuters

By Kanupriya Kapoor

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Hardline Muslim groups in Indonesia burned photos of U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as U.S. and Israeli flags, on Monday during a protest outside the U.S. embassy against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, has joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s controversial move on Israel, which they say threatens security and stability in the Middle East and the world.

The status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Jerusalem’s eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state that they seek, while Israel maintains that all of Jerusalem is its capital.

Hundreds attended the protest outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, which was barricaded by barbed wire and dozens of police officers.

“Let us witness the destruction of Israel’s hegemony,” one protest leader shouted into a megaphone as protesters burned an Israeli flag. “We will support Palestine with our blood.”

Many protesters waved Palestinian flags and carried banners supporting “intifada”, or an uprising against Israel, and rally leaders also shouted anti-Semitic slogans.

The protest was led by the Islamic Defenders Front, an aggressive vigilante group that calls for sharia, or Islamic religious law, to be imposed in Indonesia, a secular country.

The demonstration followed a much larger protest at the weekend, where thousands called for diplomatic relations with the United States to be severed and for the U.S. ambassador to be expelled.

Indonesia supports a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

(Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Paul Tait)

Anti-Trump protests wane in Jerusalem, West Bank; flare in Beirut

December 10, 2017

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian protests waned in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip on Sunday while violence flared near the U.S. embassy in Beirut over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Four days of protests in the Palestinian territories over Trump’s announcement on Wednesday had largely died down, but his overturning of long-standing U.S. policy on Jerusalem — a city holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians — drew more Arab warnings of potential damage to prospects for Middle East peace.

“Our hope is that everything is calming down and that we are returning to a path of normal life without riots and without violence,” Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Army Radio.

But Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan, the de facto leader of the United Arab Emirates, said the situation threatens to stoke violence.

Image result for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, photos

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan

“The U.S. move could throw a lifebuoy to terrorist and armed groups, which have begun to lose ground in the region,” he said.

In Beirut, meanwhile, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water canons at protesters, some of them waving Palestinian flags, near the U.S. embassy.

Demonstrators set fires in the street, torched U.S. and Israeli flags and threw projectiles toward security forces that had barricaded the main road to the complex.

Along Israel’s tense frontier with the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military on Sunday destroyed what it described as a “significant” cross-border attack tunnel dug by the enclave’s dominant Islamist group, Hamas.

There was no immediate comment on the demolition, which came as Palestinian factions tried to meet Sunday’s deadline for an Egyptian-mediated handover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas after a decade’s schism.

Pre-dawn Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday killed two Palestinian gunmen after militants fired rockets from the area into Israel on Friday.

PROTESTS IN INDONESIA

In the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Sunday, thousands protested outside the U.S. embassy, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including from Western allies.

Arab foreign ministers who met in Cairo on Saturday urged the United States to abandon its decision and said the move would spur violence throughout the region.

Israel says that all of Jerusalem is its capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in a 1967 war, to be occupied territory and say the status of the city should be decided at future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to critics in a statement before talks in Paris on Sunday with French President Emmanuel Macron, to be followed by a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels.

“I hear (from Europe) voices of condemnation over President Trump’s historic announcement, but I have not heard any condemnation for the rocket firing against Israel that has come (after the announcement) and the awful incitement against us,” Netanyahu said.

The Trump administration has said it is still committed to reviving Palestinian-Israeli talks that collapsed in 2014.

It said Israel’s capital would be in Jerusalem under any serious peace plan, adding that it has not taken a position with regard to the city’s borders.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has said the Palestinians will be looking for a new peace talks broker instead of the United States and would seek a United Nations Security Council resolution over Trump’s decision.

Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Tom Perry in Beirut, Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta and Sami Aboudi in Dubai; Editing by David Goodman

Thousands of Indonesians again protest Trump’s Jerusalem move

December 10, 2017

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Protesters hold a rally outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, to condemn the U.S. decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, December 10, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Thousands protested outside the U.S. Embassy in the Indonesian capital on Sunday against U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, many waving banners saying “Palestine is in our hearts”.

Leaders in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, have joined a global chorus of condemnation of Trump’s announcement, including Western allies who say it is a blow to peace efforts and risks sparking more violence.

Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority countries in Asia have rallied in recent days to condemn the U.S. move.

Israel maintains that all of Jerusalem is its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state and say Trump’s move has left them completely sidelined.

Palestinian people were among the first to recognize Indonesia’s independence in 1945, Sohibul Iman, president of the controversial Islamist opposition Prosperous Justice Party which organized the rally, told protesters.

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Sohibul Iman at a Protest against US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Indonesia should be more proactive in “urging the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) member states and U.N. Security Council and the international community to respond immediately with more decisive and concrete political and diplomatic actions in saving the Palestinians from the Israeli occupation and its collaborator, the United States of America,” Iman said.

“Indonesia as the world’s largest Muslim country has the largest responsibility toward the independence of Palestine and the management of Jerusalem,” he told reporters, adding that he hoped Indonesia would take a leading role within the OIC on the matter.

“Trump has disrupted world peace. It’s terrible,” one protester, Yusri, told Reuters.

The decision was “a major disaster for the Palestinian people, while the Palestinian’s own rights have been taken away for a long time,” said Septi, a student at the rally.

Violence erupted for a third day in Gaza on Saturday in response to Trump’s decision, which overturned decades of U.S. policy towards the Middle East.

Indonesia’s foreign minister left for Jordan on Sunday to meet the Palestinian and Jordanian foreign ministers “to convey Indonesia’s full support for Palestine”.

(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Fergus Jensen; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Angry protesters lash out against Trump across Muslim world

December 9, 2017

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) — Large crowds of worshippers across the Muslim world staged anti-U.S. marches Friday, some stomping on posters of Donald Trump or burning American flags in the largest outpouring of anger yet at the U.S. president’s recognition of bitterly contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In the holy city itself, prayers at Islam’s third-holiest site dispersed largely without incident, but Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in several dozen West Bank hotspots and on the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli warplanes struck Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip Friday in response to a rocket fired from the zone that Israel’s military said was intercepted by its Iron Dome missile-defense system.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 15 people were injured in Friday’s air strikes.

Earlier, a 30-year-old Gaza man was killed by Israeli gunfire, the first death of a protester since Trump’s dramatic midweek announcement. Two Palestinians were seriously wounded, health officials said.

Dozens of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza were hit by live rounds or rubber-coated steel or inhaled tear gas, the officials said.

Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem triggered warnings from America’s friends and foes alike that he is needlessly stirring more conflict in an already volatile region.

Muslim faithful prayed in the compound of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem on Friday amid heightened tension following a decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Dec. 8)

The religious and political dispute over Jerusalem forms the emotional core of the Israeli-Arab conflict. The ancient city is home to major Muslim, Jewish and Christian shrines and looms large in the competing national narratives of Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump’s decision on Jerusalem is widely seen in the region as a blatant expression of pro-Israel bias, but it was unclear if protests and confrontations would maintain momentum after Friday. More extensive violence has erupted in the Palestinian areas in the past, including deadly bloodshed triggered by disputes over Jerusalem.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement and other groups had called for three “days of rage” this week. However, Abbas remains an opponent of violence, saying it’s counterproductive and that he might at some point order his security forces to contain protests.

Separately, Fatah’s rival, the Gaza-based Islamic militant Hamas, called this week for a third uprising against Israel, but such appeals have fizzled as Palestinians become more disillusioned with their leaders.

On Friday, demonstrators in the West Bank torched heaps of tires, sending columns of thick black smoke rising over the cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem. Palestinian stone-throwers traded volleys in the streets with soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Along the Gaza-Israel border fence, Israeli troops fired at stone-throwers.

Across the region — from Asia’s Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan to North Africa’s Algeria and Lebanon in the Levant — thousands of worshippers poured into the streets after midday prayers to voice their anger. Some protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags or stomped Trump posters that showed the president alongside a Nazi swastika.

In Jordan’s capital of Amman, thousands marched through the center of town, chanting “America is the head of the snake.”

Pro-Western Jordan is a crucial U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic extremists, but King Abdullah II cannot afford to be seen as soft on Jerusalem. His Hashemite dynasty derives its legitimacy from its role as guardian of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site.

Trump’s decision has also strained U.S. foreign relations.

U.N. Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov told an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council on Friday that Trump’s announcement created a “serious risk” of a chain of unilateral actions that would push the goal of peace further away.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour warned of the danger of “a never-ending religious war that will only be exploited by extremists, fueling more radicalism, violence and strife in the region and elsewhere.”

Even traditional U.S. allies sharply criticized Trump’s decision.

Sweden’s U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog said the U.S. action “contradicts international law and Security Council resolutions.” Britain’s Ambassador Matthew Rycroft called the U.S. decision “unhelpful to peace,” the French envoy expressed regret and Italy’s Sebastiano Cardi warned of “the risk of unrest and tensions in the region.”

The U.S. ambassador, Nikki Haley, told the council that the Trump administration is more committed to peace “than we’ve ever been before — and we believe we might be closer to that goal than ever before.” Haley did not explain.

In Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday played down the impact of Trump’s policy shift, which also included a pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Tillerson said it will likely take years for the U.S. to open an embassy in Jerusalem.

In a news conference with the French foreign minister, Tillerson said Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital “did not indicate any final status for Jerusalem.”

The United States is making clear that Jerusalem’s borders will be left to Israelis and Palestinians to “negotiate and decide,” he said.

Most countries around the world have not recognized Israel’s 1967 annexation of east Jerusalem and maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv. Under a longstanding international consensus, the fate of the city is to be determined in negotiations.

Trump’s announcement delivered a blow to Abbas, a supporter of the idea of reaching Palestinian statehood through U.S.-led negotiations with Israel. In siding with Israel on Jerusalem, he has said, the Trump administration effectively disqualified itself as a mediator.

However, Abbas has not decided how to move forward, including whether he will rule out future U.S.-brokered negotiations. Trump has said he still intends to propose a Mideast peace deal.

More than two decades of intermittent Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have failed to bring the Palestinians closer to statehood. Some in Abbas’ inner circle say the old paradigm, with the U.S. serving as mediator, is no longer relevant.

On Thursday, a senior Fatah official said the Palestinians would not receive Vice President Mike Pence when he visits the West Bank later this month, but it was not immediately clear if the official spoke for Abbas.

The Arab League, an umbrella group of close to two dozen states, is to meet Saturday to try to forge a joint position, followed next week by a gathering in Turkey of the 57-state Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Turkish officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Turkey next week for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Jerusalem’s status and other issues.

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Laub reported from Jericho, West Bank. Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, Alice Su in Amman, Jordan, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations also contributed to this report.

From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Muslims vent fury at Trump’s Jerusalem stance

December 8, 2017

© Fethi Belaid, AFP | A Tunisian protester burns a poster bearing images of the US and Israeli flags during a rally in Tunis on December 8.

Text by FRANCE 24 

Latest update : 2017-12-08

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across the Muslim world on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing their outrage at US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Trump’s declaration departed from decades of US policy and upended longstanding international assurances that the fate of Jerusalem, which Palestinians also claim as their capital, would be determined in peace negotiations.

The move drew stern criticism from governments across the Middle East and in other Muslim countries, where security was stepped up outside US embassies in anticipation of unrest following Friday prayers.

The expected protests turned violent in the Palestinian territories, where demonstrators staged a “day of rage” and clashed with Israeli security forces.

But the repercussions of Trump’s move were felt far and wide, with protesters from Malaysia to Somalia venting their anger at Washington and expressing their solidarity with the Palestinians.

>> ‘Deplorable and unacceptable’: Trump provokes diplomatic firestorm over JerusalemIn the Egyptian capital of Cairo, a crowd of several hundred gathered at the famed al Azhar mosque and chanted, “Jerusalem is Arab! O Trump, you madman, the Arab people are everywhere!” Egypt is a US ally and has a peace treaty with Israel.

The imam leading the prayers at al Azhar said the US plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem was a “terrorist decision” that proved America’s bias towards Israel.

In Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, hundreds rallied in the capital Amman chanting, “America is the head of the snake.”

The protesters raised posters showing Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site, whose religious guardian is the Jordanian king.

IRANIANS TAKE TO THE STREETS AFTER TRUMP’S DECISION

There were larger protests in Tunisia and Lebanon, with more than 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinians marching from a mosque in western Beirut to a nearby cemetery where several Palestinian commanders are buried.

In Iran, which has never recognised Israel and supports anti-Israel militant group Hezbollah, demonstrators burned pictures of Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while chanting, “Death to the Devil.”

Iranian media said similar rallies took place in other cities and towns across the country after Friday prayers.

‘Slap in the face for Muslims’

Protests were also reported in several Turkish cities, including a small gathering outside the heavily protected US embassy in Ankara, where police prevented protesters from setting US flags alight.

A much larger crowd, estimated at 3,000, gathered outside a mosque in Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district before marching toward a park waving Palestinian flags and chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

“What Trump says is empty words and means nothing to us,” said Merve, a young student in the crowd. “Whenever we see the name of Israel on a map, we cross it out and write Palestine,” she added.

Protesters step on a poster of US President Donald Trump during a demonstration in Istanbul on December 8, 2017. © Ozan Kose, AFP

Radical Islamic groups in Pakistan organised rallies in Islamabad and other cities, with some protesters torching effigies of the US president. Protests took place in the port city of Karachi, Pakistan’s largest, as well as Multan and Lahore, the capital of eastern Punjab province.

Islamist leaders addressed the crowds and urged Muslim countries to cut diplomatic ties with Washington to pressure Trump to reconsider his decision.

There was further unrest in neighbouring India, where protesters burned US and Israeli flags at rallies in restive Kashmir province.

Anti-American sentiment also ran high at a rally in the Somali capital Mogadishu, where a crowd of several hundred shouted, “Trump, down!”

More protests were reported in Indonesia, home to the world’s largest Muslim population, and in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, where more than 1,000 people rallied outside the US embassy.

“This insensitive action will inflame the hearts of Muslims worldwide,” said Mohamad Rasul, a 51-year-old train driver in the Malaysian capital, describing Trump’s move as a “slap in the face for Muslims”.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Thousands of Muslims in Asia protest against Trump’s Jerusalem plan

December 8, 2017

Protests in Malaysia — Photo: AFP – Kamarul Akhir

JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia joined rallies on Friday to condemn Washington’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as authorities tightened security outside U.S. embassies.

Leaders in both Asian countries have joined a global chorus of voices condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s move.

Several thousand protesters, some shouting anti-U.S. slogans and burning an effigy of Trump, gathered in front of the American embassy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

In Indonesia, hundreds of protesters mostly clad in white were arriving outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country. Some wore checkered scarves and waved Palestinian flags, while others shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).

“We have prepared personnel and patrols to secure the U.S. embassy. We are expecting between 500 and 1,000 demonstrators,” said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

The U.S. embassy in Jakarta advised its citizens to avoid areas where there were demonstrations and said its consulate in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya had suspended public services on Friday.

Indonesia has been a long-running supporter of the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there have been public demonstrations in support of Palestine in recent years.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday urged the United States to reconsider its decision and instructed his foreign minister to summon the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.

In Malaysia, leaders from the ruling party United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) and the popular right wing Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), both of which represent the majority ethnic Malay-Muslims, led the rally and representatives of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas are expected to join.

Protests are also expected in South Asia. Pakistan’s major Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami has announced rallies in all major cities after Friday prayers.

President Trump said on Wednesday that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem in the coming years.

Protests have already broken out in the West Bank and the Gaza strip as the Islamist group Hamas urged Palestinians to launch a fresh uprising against Israel.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Michael Perry

See also:

http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/12136

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EDITORIAL: Trumpeting Jerusalem

  • EDITORIAL

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Fri, December 8, 2017 | 07:52 am

EDITORIAL: Trumpeting Jerusalem

Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump at the manger square in Bethlehem on Dec. 5, 2017. US President Donald Trump told Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in a phone call that he intends to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Abbas’s office said. (Agence France-Presse/Musa Al Shaer)

Many world leaders, including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, have angrily condemned United States President Donald Trump for officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. For the American president, his decision is a matter of legal technicality, political practicality and an opportunity to show off his leadership muscle.

Protests and condemnation have spread globally, with critics crying foul over the policy that defies international conventions. But the unpredictable American leader does not care about repercussions resulting from his act, like the rise of anti-American sentiment across the world and more acts of terrorism. Trump might still believe in the US might and know well that the enemies of Israel are preoccupied with infighting and quarrels.

Trump insisted he simply implemented the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which requires the relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv no later than May 1999. Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has declared the holy city for three religions its capital, although the United Nations has never recognized it.

For Trump, his recognition of Jerusalem is merely part of the realization of his campaign promises, which also include scrapping the Paris Climate Accord, banning the entry of citizens of certain countries, reducing taxes for the super-rich, expelling undocumented migrants and erecting high walls along the Mexican border.

Although Trump said his decision “marks the beginning of a new approach” to the endless conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we believe his much-anticipated announcement on Wednesday has only kick-started a catastrophe.

Palestine is determined that Jerusalem should become its capital when one day it can achieve its long-standing goal of becoming a fully independent state. Palestinians put little hope in Washington playing the role of an honest peace broker, and Trump’s decision has by all means killed any such expectation.

The status of Jerusalem is among the contentious issues of the decades-long peace talks, which have tabled a two-state solution, apart from the right to return and the issue of illegal Jewish settlements that nevertheless have expanded under the watch of the hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Further, tension will mount with Muslims wary of what will happen with the Old City and the Al Aqsa Mosque if Israel moves to formally make all of Jerusalem its capital. The mosque in East Jerusalem, at the center of battlegrounds since the Crusades, has deep symbolic meaning to Muslims, who pray there every day.

But as we will see increased fury against the US, it is actually the local Palestinians who will bear the brunt of Israel’s rule. Nevertheless, the Palestinians should also blame themselves for Trump’s move, because they have been unable to forge unity vis-à-vis foreign intervention.

As a Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has rightly spoken out to reject President Trump’s decision. President Jokowi has placed Palestine’s independence high on his foreign policy agenda. It is time for Jokowi to show the world that Indonesia can do more than simply joining the chorus of condemnation against Trump’s recklessness.

http://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2017/12/08/editorial-trumpeting-jerusalem.html

Australia Foreign Policy White Paper hits China’s activities in South China Sea — SCS is a “major fault line” in regional order.

December 6, 2017
In this April 21, 2017, file photo, Chinese structures and an airstrip on the man-made Subi Reef at the Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130. CSIS AMTI via DigitalGlobe, File

MANILA, Philippines — Expressing concern over the scale of China’s activities in the disputed South China Sea, Australia urged all claimants to clarify the full nature of their claims in accordance with international law.

In its 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper released a few weeks ago, Australia stressed its position that the UN-backed tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines’ arbitration case against China is “final and binding on both parties.”

Clarifying that they are not taking sides in the competing claims, Australia considers the South China Sea as a “major fault line” in the regional order.

“Like other non-claimant states, however, we have a substantial interest in the stability of this crucial international waterway, and in the norms and laws that govern it,” the Foreign Policy White Paper read.

Australia noted that they have urged all claimants to refrain from actions that would increase tension in the region. They have also called for a halt on Beijing’s land reclamation and construction activities.

Resolving dispute should be based on international law, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Australia said in its foreign policy paper.

“Australia opposes the use of disputed features and artificial structures in the South China Sea for military purposes,” the white paper read.

The Australian government vowed to ensure international law, particularly UNCLOS, will be respected and implemented to protect freedom of navigation in the region.

Meanwhile, China criticized Australia for its “irresponsible comments” on the South China Sea.

Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian stressed that Australia is not in a position to make comments on the contested waters as they are not a claimant country.

“It has been proven by facts that interference from countries outside the region can only complicate the South China Sea issue and will be of no help to regional peace and stability,” Wu said in a press briefing.

Earlier this year, Beijing also slammed US Secretary Rex Tillerson for his comment that China is using its economic powers to buy its way out of problems.

“China is a significant economic and trading power, and we desire a productive relationship, but we cannot allow China to use its economic power to buy its way out of other problems, whether it’s militarizing islands in the South China Sea or failure to put appropriate pressure on North Korea,” Tillerson said in Sydney last June.

Beijing had been insisting that the situation in the South China Sea has “cooled down” following direct consultations and dialogues with claimant states.

RELATED: China assures Philippines: No military force in South China Sea

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/12/06/1765852/australia-hits-chinas-activities-south-china-sea-foreign-policy-paper

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Who are the “anti-blasphemy” Islamists wielding new political influence in Pakistan?

December 3, 2017

The public perception after the crackdown against protestors is overwhelmingly anti-PML(N), while the Pakistan military has gained more sympathy for refusing the act against them. The stage has now been set for the PML(N) exit in the elections next year

Written by Umer Ali | Updated: December 1, 2017 10:43 am

pakistan, pakistan protests, pakistan blasphemy laws, pakistan protests blasphemy laws, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool-ullah, pakistan news, indian express, indian express news

Members of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan far right Islamist political party shout slogans during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 10, 2017. Reuters

The last three weeks have laid bare Pakistan’s claims of countering extremist ideology, both militarily and ideologically. The state shut down social media websites and TV channels in order to counter protesting supporters of the newly-formed religious party, Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool-ullah around Islamabad, and ordered the deployment of troops to restore order. But as a clear sign of insubordination, the military instead objected to the way the protest was handled.

It is important to explore the genesis of TLYP – a group of Barelvi religious organizations behind these protests. For decades, the Deobandi-Salafist groups championed the cause of violent jihad in Pakistan, while the Barelvi groups mostly remained apolitical and non-violent. However, unlike the common belief that only Deobandi-Salafist groups apostatize other sects, Barelvi literature is also rich with fatwas against the followers of other Islamic sects. One reason why Barelvi groups weren’t radicalized during the Afghan jihad is because the Saudi funding to fight the Soviet Union was directed towards Deobandi and Salafist groups due to their ideological affinity. However, over the past few years, Barelvi groups have gained significant political influence and street power.

Barelvi (Urduبَریلوِی‎, BarēlwīUrdu pronunciation: [bəreːlʋi]) is a term used for the movement following the SunniHanafi school of jurisprudence, originating in Bareilly with over 200 million followers in South Asia.[1] The name derives from the north Indian town of Bareilly, the hometown of its founder and main leader Ahmed Raza Khan (1856–1921).[2][3][4][5][6] Although Barelvi is the commonly used term in the media and academia, the followers of the movement often prefer to be known by the title of Ahle Sunnat wa Jama’at, (Urduاہل سنت وجماعت‎) or as Sunnis, a reference to their perception as forming an international majority movement.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barelvi

Since then, Qadri, a Barelvi himself, became the poster boy for Barelvi religious groups. They now champion the ishq-i-rasool (love for the prophet), and remain at the forefront of anti-blasphemy campaigning in Pakistan. The much-needed catalyst to bring their followers on the streets was the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri to death. TLYP was born out of the protests against Qadri’s death. The current leader Khadim Hussain Rizvi gained fame through his fiery speeches against the government.

Unlike the several militant outfits which turned on the military after Pakistan decided to aid the United States’ war on terror in Afghanistan, TLYP focuses its criticism on the civilian government, and not the military. Unlike the Deobandis and Salafis, experts say, Barelvi leaders pose as pro-army and pro-state, who want themselves affiliated with the army, thus giving an impression that everything they are doing is lawful.

This stands true in the current fiasco as well, when General Qamar Bajwa reportedly refused to deploy the military to disperse the protestors, saying “they are our people”. Now that a deal has been struck between the government and the protestors with the arbitration of an ISI Major General, and Law minister Zahid Hamid has resigned, several questions arise: why did an ISI General act as an arbitrator between the government and protestors? If the government was willing to accept the protestors’ demand, why wait for three weeks? Perhaps, the military pressurized the government to accept the protestors’ demands.

The deal itself has been subject to severe criticism by various quarters, with leading commentators describing it as “surrender”. Unfortunately, such deals were struck with the likes of TTP leaders Mullah Fazlullah in Swat and Nek Muhammad in Waziristan, but ultimately, the state had to launch military operations against them.

If one was to learn from those experiences, accepting the demands of an outlawed group is acknowledging them as stakeholders, which only worsens the situation. With this deal as well, the government conformed to the outrageous demands of a small group of protestors – setting another very bad precedent.

Now that someone’s faith is subject to suspicion by a mob, it is clear the mob won’t stop with Zahid Hamid. According to some reports, Punjab Law minister Rana Sanaullah needs to testify his belief in the finality of Prophethood in front of some clerics. If this continues, no one even with a slightly dissenting opinion will be able to live peacefully in Pakistan.

However, there is another important factor to be considered. The military in Pakistan has a history of using religious groups to further their agenda. Currently, the establishment is working hard to destroy the PML(N) votebank ahead of the 2018 general elections. What better way to do so but pitting Barelvism – a large part of the Pakistani population adheres to this school of thought – against the PML(N) ?

The signs have been there. In the recent by-elections for the National Assembly seat vacated by the disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, TLYP received more than 7,000 votes, while the Milli Muslim League – a political front of the banned LeT (or JuD) – received more than 5,500 votes. Both parties built their campaigns based solely on anti-PML(N) rhetoric.

One reason the military establishment is now relying on Barelvi groups is because the previous “assets” have now become a liability. Pakistan faces continuous pressure from the international community for not acting against terror groups like Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or its previous incarnation, the Lashkar-e-Toiba. By using the Barelvi groups, over an issue as sensitive as blasphemy, the military establishment might be preparing alternative assets to be deployed against their political rivals in Pakistan. The public perception after the government crackdown against protestors is overwhelmingly anti-PML(N), while the Pakistan military has gained more sympathy for refusing the act against them. Pakistan’s ultra-conservative population believe they were fighting for a noble cause.

The stage has now been set for the PML(N) exit in the elections next year, but at a hefty cost. A dangerous precedent has been set, and the majority Muslim sect has been weaponized. History is repeating itself in Pakistan.

Umer Ali is an award-winning Pakistani journalist who has reported extensively on terrorism, blasphemy, and human rights. He tweets @iamumer1
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Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan an Islamist political party, attends Friday prayers during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood Reuters

Blasphemy Uproar in Pakistan: Drive to Halt Insults Against Islam Gains Political Clout in Pakistan — “This is a mini revolution.”

December 3, 2017

Anti-blasphemy uprising in majority sect wins influence through protests, prosecutions

Protesters chanted slogans at their protest site in Islamabad, Pakistan on Nov. 27.Photo: CAREN FIROUZ/Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—An emerging religious movement is gaining political clout in Pakistan around the incendiary issue of blasphemy, posing a particular challenge to the country’s leadership because it springs from the country’s mainstream Islamic sect.

Religious activists led by a cleric with a weeks-old political party besieged Pakistan’s capital in late November and forced the government to give in to all of their demands, including promises of stricter implementation of blasphemy laws.

“This is a mini revolution,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on religious extremism.

The anti-blasphemy wave, supported by vigilantism and political activism, is reviving religious strife in the society and politics of Pakistan, which is gradually surfacing from a decadelong struggle with Islamist terrorism.

This time the conflict comes not in militant attacks but an inquisition over who is a proper Muslim.

Khadim Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah political party, addresses the media during protests in Islamabad, on Nov. 27.Photo: caren firouz/Reuters

With national elections set to be held by September, the concessions to protesters last month underscored the threat that the movement could pose to Pakistan’s ruling party among voters and lawmakers, some of whom are threatening to leave the party over the issue.

Laws prohibiting blasphemy—statements or actions against Islam—have long been on the books in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. But there are more cases recorded in Pakistan, with harsher punishments, including a mandatory death penalty for using derogatory language about the Prophet Muhammad.

Anti-blasphemy campaigns are also growing in other parts of the Muslim world, including Indonesia, where a conservative party gained clout this year with accusations of blasphemy against the governor of Jakarta, who is Christian. He lost re-election, was convicted and is serving a two-year prison sentence.

In Pakistan, the new campaign was ignited by a February 2016 decision by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to execute a police officer, Mumtaz Qadri, who had shot dead a politician who had sought to make the blasphemy law less open to abuse. Some 300,000 people turned out for Mr. Qadri’s highly charged funeral.

Khadim Rizvi, then a little-known firebrand cleric at a small mosque in Lahore, seized on the moment, using social media to build a following and launch a group called Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, or Movement in Response to God’s Prophet’s Call.

A Pakistani security force helicopter patrols over the tomb of Mumtaz Qadri, who was hanged in February 2016 for killing a politician who had sought to make Pakistan’s blasphemy laws less open to abuse, on the outskirts of Islamabad on March 1, one year after Mr. Qadri’s funeral.Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

In recent weeks, Mr. Rizvi made the group a political party, which came third in two by-elections, ahead of long-established parties.

“There’s a big conspiracy, coming from Europe, to take Pakistan towards liberalism,” Mr. Rizvi said in an interview in November. He said there can be no forgiveness for blasphemy, and no punishment for anyone who kills a blasphemer.

In November, Mr. Rizvi led a three-week sit-in protest in Islamabad to directly challenge the government and Mr. Sharif’s ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party.

His group has drawn most of its followers from the Barelvi sect of Islam, which is followed by the majority of Pakistan’s population and has been largely moderate, resistant to the militancy spawned by purist forms of the religion. Mr. Rizvi represents one arm of a broader anti-blasphemy movement that isn’t yet unified, but is now organizing.

The U.S. had viewed the Barelvi as a moderate bulwark against militancy, and in 2009 gave a Barelvi group a $36,000 grant to organize a rally against the Pakistani Taliban, according to the State Department. That group, the Sunni Ittehad Council, is now also part of the anti-blasphemy movement.

The Barelvi venerate the Prophet Muhammad with an absolute devotion, making a perceived insult an inflammatory issue.

The funeral of Mashal Khan, a student who was killed by his classmates in April after he described himself as a “humanist,” in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in northwest Pakistan. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Mr. Rizvi is an upstart in the Barelvi world, which doesn’t have a single leader. But his influence is pushing the sect in a harder direction.

The head of a Barelvi seminary in Lahore said the message of tolerance he tries to teach to his students can’t compete with the fiery oratory they hear online from Mr. Rizvi.

An accusation of heresy in Pakistan can trigger a mob: In April, a university student who described himself as a humanist was beaten to death by other students in the northwest of the country. A later police investigation found no blasphemy had been committed by the student.

In the November protests in Islamabad, Mr. Rizvi’s group won concessions including the resignation of the law minister and positions for group representatives on the education boards that decide on the contents of school textbooks.

An editorial in Dawn, a leading daily newspaper, described the agreement as “a surrender so abject that the mind is numb and the heart sinks.”

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Tuesday said the deal “was not desirable but there was little choice,” as religious riots would have followed.

Members of Mr. Sharif’s party privately accuse the powerful military, which has long allied itself with radical religious clerics, of backing Mr. Rizvi’s protest to further weaken an administration that has been critical of the armed forces. The military didn’t respond to a request for comment, but has in recent years insisted it no longer interferes in politics.

Related

  • Pakistanis Throng Funeral of Man Hanged for Killing Critic of Blasphemy Laws
  • Curfews, Obligatory Prayers, Whippings: Hard-Line Islam Emerges in Indonesia
  • Pakistani Government’s Deal With Islamist Protesters Signals Weakening Stance

The blasphemy laws apply to Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan. In Punjab province, Mr. Sharif’s home region and the place where most blasphemy cases are registered, between 2011 and November 2017 there were 1,572 blasphemy charges filed, according to police figures.

The number of cases in Punjab had dropped after 2015 because of a procedural change that means only a senior police officer can now register a case, provincial officials said. A band of lawyers has organized to bring blasphemy prosecutions pro bono.

The blasphemy wave has spread watchfulness and paranoia. Cases are often concocted to settle personal scores, human-rights groups said.

Pakistan’s telecoms regulator has twice this year sent text messages to all cellphone users asking citizens to report blasphemy committed online. This year, a Muslim man was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court over a blasphemous Facebook post.

A professor of Urdu literature is currently on trial for blasphemy for asking his class, in a lesson on a poem on a religious theme, to consider whether the Quran’s description of heaven was to be taken literally or metaphorically.

“In my religion, there isn’t any room for ‘free speech’,” said Rao Abdul Rahim, an Islamabad-based lawyer who specializes in prosecuting alleged blasphemers.

Write to Saeed Shah at saeed.shah@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/drive-to-halt-insults-against-islam-gains-political-clout-in-pakistan-1512216000

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Image may contain: 5 people, people sitting

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan an Islamist political party, attends Friday prayers during a sit-in in Rawalpindi, Pakistan November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood Reuters