LIVE WORLD NEWS

29 December 2016

Evening NEWS DIGEST
29  Dec.2016: 29 Rabiul Awwal 1438: Vol:8, No:75
Russia, China, Pakistan for flexible ties with Taliban, India ignored: Times of India
New Delhi: As Russia, China and Pakistan work towards building a new axis in Afghanistan to accommodate Taliban as a tool against the Islamic Sate terror group, it could have unforeseen consequences for the Russia-India relationship.On Tuesday, China, Pakistan and Russia met in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan's "deteriorating" security situation, despite strong protests from the Afghan govt . 3 countries relented towards the end of the day's discussions and said that they would expand the group to include Afghanistan the next time. There is already a move to induct Iran into this group. Nandan Unnikrishnan, Russia analyst at Observer Research Foundation, said, "In the present context of limited communication between India and Russia, Russia's actions could lead to a drift in relations." India only recently reaffirmed its ties with Russia by announcing almost $10 billion in defence purchases from Moscow.The statement issued at the end of the meeting said,"Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China as UNSC permanent members confirmed their flexible approach to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and Taliban."This could, if Russia and China press ahead, and if the US does not block, result in the removal of some top Taliban leaders from the UNSC sanctions list. Afghanistan, incidentally, has asked for the new Taliban chief to be included in the list.Conspicuous by its absence at the meet was India, which continues to hold Taliban as the biggest threat in Afghanistan. Besides India, the Afghan govt  and the US both agree to this. Afghan govt  is currently going through its own political crisis, with the 2 key leaders of the unity govt , President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah, at loggerheads. India is holding on to the "red lines" for integration of Taliban into the Afghan govt but that seems to be getting diluted by the new axis, which is less Afghan-led and more Pak-led, putting Pakistan once again in the driver's seat on Afghanistan's future.Iran, which has been doing its own outreach to Taliban, is equally apprehensive of the fallout of IS cadres relocating to Afghanistan as they get driven out of Syria and Iraq. This is essentially a return to the good-Taliban, bad-Taliban argument, as everybody wants to do a peace settlement in Afghanistan. India will remain out of this move yet again. Russia is looking for two things -an opening to Pakistan and a lever against IS that Moscow believes could be at its doorstep, given Russians form the largest group of IS fighters. The last time Russia was on India's side. But this time, Russia says its more worried about the IS than about losing India's friendship. timesofindia
Pak, China, Russia agree to expand talks on Afghan: IANS
Uniform Common code part of govt's political agenda: Oppn tells Law Commission
Most of the opposition parties who have responded to the Law Commission questionnaire on the contentious uniform civil code have dubbed the move to refer the matter to it as part of BJP govt's "political agenda" with some of them even questioning the timing ahead of UP polls. Responding to the questionnaire, parties such as Congress, BSP and TMC are learnt to have refrained from saying as to whether they support to a common code or not. They have, however, dubbed the decision of the govt to refer the matter to the law panel as part of its political agenda to further its political interests, sources said. Some parties have also questioned the timing of the decision to refer the matter to the Commission ahead of the UP Assembly polls due early next year. BSP, which was perhaps the first party to respond to the law panel, has slammed PM Narendra Modi for allegedly imposing the agenda of RSS on the people.Responding to the law panel's request to answer the questionnaire, BSP said the party is attaching a press statement issued by Mayawati on Oct.25 in Lucknow. Instead of answering 16 questions put out by the law panel, the BSP said the press statement is its response to the questionnaire. Asaduddin Owaisi's AIMIM is learnt to have opposed a common code and has supported its stand through certain court orders.NCP is learnt to have opposed the practice of "instant triple talaq" but has by and large supported separate personal laws. Highly-placed sources in the panel said the questionnaire has so far received over 40,000 responses which continue to pour in even after the expiry of the deadline. While the deadline to send the responses ended on Dec.21, the law panel said it would continue to entertain responses received after the deadline."Uniform Civil Code is one of the important projects before the Law Commission. The responses/replies received by the Commission are being processed. The response/replies received, if any, after the date may also be considered," it said in a brief statement. DNA India
DEMONETISATION
Minimum Rs 10,000 fine for holding old notes, no jail term: Govt
New Delhi:Govt has made holding of more than 10 junked Rs 500/1000 notes a penal offence punishable with a minimum Rs 10,000 fine, but the harsher four-year jail term has been dropped. Specified Bank Notes Cessation of Liabilities Ordinance, approved yesterday by the Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, allows individuals to hold no more than 10 notes of the old currency. It allows 25 such currencies to be held by research scholars. Top sources said the ordinance, which will be sent to the President for his assent shortly, will come into effect from Dec31. It provides for making holding of old 1,000 and 500 rupee notes after March 31 a criminal offence that will attract a fine of Rs 10,000 or five times the cash held, whichever is higher.PTI
RBI says reasons behind demonetisation cannot be made public:PTI
New Delhi:Why were Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes demonetised by the govt?  50 days after the govt announced that these notes would cease to be legal tender, RBI feels that the reasons behind the sudden announcement cannot be made public. "The query is in the nature of seeking future date of an event which is not defined as information as per Section 2(f) of RTI Act," RBI said in response to an RTI query. Bankers' Bank refused to disclose reasons behind demonetisation of about Rs 20 lakh crore of currency in the country citing Section 8(1)(a) of RTI.The section states, "Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence."
Is RBI’s autonomy under threat? Post Modi’s demonetisation, experts feel so
Demonetisation: Here's why rates of some vegetables are seeing a dip
New Delhi:Tomato and other vegetables prices, including those of onion and potato, have come down after demonetisation.But National Horticulture Board, which tracks horticultural produce markets across the country, has found that the fall has more to do with transporters' resistance to pick up the produce from farms than to a poor cash flow at the farmers' end. Ground reports, shared with the board, have noted a pattern where middlemen have been trying to misuse the situation, creating logistical problems, making lifting of produce difficult. This year, because of a bumper crop, the apparent non-cooperation of transporters hasn't yet affected retail vegetable rates as much. While some of the output is perforce being left to rot in the fields, much of it is still making its way to the retail markets, preventing an even steeper fall. The transporter problem, ground reports indicate, is particularly visible in some states such as Karnataka. This state had a bumper tomato crop this year. Though middlemen try to play with the market sentiment after demonetisation, Dec, post-harvest fall in prices in one or the other region isn't unusual. Ground reports with the board noted that the transporters' resistance in certain regions needs to be probed."The fall in vegetable prices is nothing unusual at this time. We have noticed a steep fall in the wholesale rates of perishable items even in the past when certain regions had bumper crops. We have examples where farmers had to dump their produce because of logistical reasons transport or absence of cold chain", said AK Singh,managing director of the National Horticulture Board(NHB).PTI
Lakshadweep to soon go cashless: Administrator Farooq
Minicoy: The Lakshadweep islands will soon become a 100% cashless society as part of the Centre’s Digital India initiative, the Union Territory Administrator Farooq Khan said here. He also said, steps are underway to achieve this goal and they are hopeful of reaching it soon. “Because of communication problems, we have certain issues. But the govt of India is attending to those issues,” he told reporters here on the sidelines of the valedictory of two-day national Minicoy festival last evening.“Very soon all the shops in the islands would have digital money transaction facilities.PTI
Demonetisation is no issue for BJP; UP unit buys 1,650 bikes for upcoming elections
The demonetisation move may have led to over 100 deaths and huge discomfort for a majority of the people, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the BJP is facing no such issues.A few weeks after reports emerged that they party had been purchasing land in Bihar and UP, the BJP has now again spent a sizeable amount to purchase motorcycles. And no, we are not talking about a dozen: 1,650 bikes, in fact, post demonetisation for UP  by BJP.The job entrusted to the these bikes will be to deliver BJP’s agenda and failure of SP govt  to the people in every nook and corner of the state.TCN
Salaries through banks ordinance gets President's nod
Modi likely to address nation before dawn of New Year:PTI
Demonetisation biggest scam in India’s political history: Congress leader Surjewala
OTHERS
ED to file money laundering FIR against Zakir Naik: HT
Mumbai: The new year is likely to bring in more trouble for Dr Zakir Naik. Reason:Enforcement Directorate (ED) is to register a Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) case.Sources in the central agency, which probes money-laundering cases, stated Naik will be booked in January for a thorough investigation. “There is a predicate offence against Naik registered by NIA. FIR has accused him of speeches that spread communal harmony. Our investigation will focus on the proceeds of crime and if he has gained anything financially,”said a high-ranking officer. “Investigations will also focus on if he has invested the earned money,” he added. The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police investigated the foreign funding of the IRF. ED sources revealed they will refer to the police’s findings in this regard as well.Naik’s spokesperson Aarif Malik said the preacher has not been given an opportunity to clarify. “IRF and Naik have been open to any investigation from the start since July, when the entire case came into light, but throughout these months, no agency posed even a single question to Naik or contacted him or gave him any chance to clarify on any of the allegations. Not a single FIR/notice or any contact was made with him with any official or non-official channel. The first FIR was filed after the ban. IRF and Naik will remain open to probe, but the irony is that the ban is now being justified by allegations made through FIR’s of financial or non-financial nature.” HT
Soon, ED to lodge money laundering case against Naik
Kerala BJP demands NIA probe into functioning of Islamic centre in Malappuram
Kerala BJP has asked the Centre to order a NIA probe into the functioning of Sathya Sarani, an Islamic centre in Malappuram, to unearth its alleged anti-national activities. BJP State chief Kummanom Rajasekharan made request in a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was here to attend the 27th meeting of Southern Zonal Council.“A probe by NIA should be ordered to unearth the anti-national activities of the organisation,” he said.He pointed out that Sathya Sarani was controlled by PFI, which the saffron party charged was the new form of banned SIMI. He alleged that nearly 500 persons from Hindu and Christian religions were converted into Islam by Sarani and many of them had joined terror outfit IS in Syria.PTI
UP ATS trying to de-radicalise youths caught spreading hate
The state ATS is attempting to deradicalise 16 youths, found spreading extremist ideology on social media, by holding sessions explaining the outcome of getting involved in terrorist activities. ATS has not initiated any legal action against the youths, as they were not found involved in any act of terror, despite trying to influence others to take up conflict against “non-believers”. The youths hail from Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Allahabad and Lucknow. Officials have also involved family members, close relatives and friends of the youths in the process.“We are keeping a close watch on their movements and making contact on a regular basis. Our effort is to ensure these youths remain in mainstream society,” said IG, ATS, Aseem Arun.Official claims to have managed to convince 5 of them to get married and be with their families.Arun said the youths, who belong to families mostly in different businesses, are between 21 and 28 years old.“We briefed family members about the activities of these youths and ask them to keep a watch on their activities. In some cases, when youths refused to listen to family members, the agency contacted close relatives and friends to intervene.We are trying to deradicalise these youths by explaining the outcomes of getting caught in terror activities,”said another official. indian express
 Rights watchdog NHRC hopes to earn more teeth
New Delhi:From highlighting custodial deaths to putting a spotlight on poor fire safety compliance in hospitals, the NHRC championed the upholding of human rights in 2016 and is looking ahead with a hope to earn more teeth to enforce its orders on violations.NHRC, since its inception, has impacted human lives and striven for justice, liberty and equality for all, with some landmark cases, punctuating its eventful journey of over 20 years. Chairperson of the rights panel Justice HL Dattu has pitched for vesting NHRC with “more power”, and as it clocks another year, the Commission would be looking forward to move in that direction. “Everyone wants to have more power. We (NHRC) also want to have more power,” he had said on its Foundation Day celebrations in October.According to NHRC,UP  recorded highest number of cases of custodial deaths in the country between Oct.2015 and Sept.2016, with as many as 401 deaths taking place in judicial custody and 27 in police custody. indianexpress
Bastar: Rights advocate writes to NHRC, says ‘threat tactics’ being used
New Delhi: An advocate of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group, which fights cases of human rights violations in Bastar, has written to NHRC, alleging that “intimidatory and threatening tactics” were being used against her. She also expressed apprehension that false cases may be charged against her. Shalini Gera wrote that she recently got a call from a person claiming to be the Superintendent of Police of Bastar. According to her, the caller said that the police have received a complaint that accuses her of meeting a Maoist commander and exchanging demonetised currency notes. The allegations, she maintained, were made “simply to malign and harass” her. indianexpress
Mumbai blast case: HC refuses furlough to Yakub Memon’s sister-in-law
Mumbai:Bombay High Court recently refused to grant furlough to Rubina Suleman Memon, sister-in-law of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon who was hanged for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast case. The HC held that since Rubina had been convicted under TADA, she could not be released on furlough under Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959. In its order, the HC stated that since Rubina was the sister-in-law of Memon, she would spend her period of furlough in Mahim area, “where people of all communities reside”. Moreover, people would turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem. This was stated in view of the fact that thousands turned up for the funeral of Yakub Memon. Meanwhile, appearing for Rubina, Farhana Shah submitted that 3 co-accused also convicted under TADA had been released on bail. They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, Nasir Abdul Kadar,Isa Abdul Razak Memon. indianexpress
Bajrangi seeks regular bail; cites blindness, ‘deafness’
Ahmedabad: Ex-Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi, sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 Naroda Patiya massacre case, has moved a plea before the Gujarat High Court, seeking regular bail citing “complete loss of vision” and developing “deafness” in one of his ears. The High Court, in this regard, has issued a notice to the Supreme Court appointed-SIT, which is expected to file its response next month. The petition was moved last week.indian express
8 Suspended JNU Students Reply to Notice, Refute Charges
New Delhi:JNU administration today said it has received a joint reply to the notices served to 8 suspended students accused of disrupting Academic Council meeting wherein they have refuted the charge against them, even as the students staged a protest on campus against the suspension.JNUSU said it will organise a protest march on the campus tomorrow demanding revoking of suspension of the students."A group of students today staged a protest over suspension of students on the campus. We have also received a joint reply on the notices served to 8 suspended students, in which it has been claimed that the charge of disrupting AC meeting is wrong," said a senior JNU official.Proctorial enquiry against the 8 students is on and the suspension will continue till it is completed, he added.Congress'-affiliated student outfit NSUI staged a protest over and took out a march towards the HRD ministry but were stopped by police on Raiseena Road. out look
JNU students protest suspension
JNU’s journey from ‘prestigious’ to ‘anti-national’
Punjabi youths on death row in UAE: HC gives Jan 23 deadline to reach deal with kin of murdered Pak man
Jalandhar: The High Court of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday gave permission to Dubai-based Punjabi hotelier-cum-social worker, SP Singh Oberoi, in the capital punishment case of 10 Punjab youths for the murder of a Pakistani national, to hold talks with the family of the deceased Muhammad Farhan Muhammad Ezaz regarding payment of blood money till Jan23. A court of Al Ain city of UAE had sentenced the 10 Punjabis to death on Oct.26. The appeal in this case was admitted in the Abu Dhabi High Court. Oberoi said from Dubai on Wednesday that he, appeared in the HC with his counsel during the day, and said that he wanted to pay blood money to the family of the deceased to save the life of the 10 youths.Worried families also got some relief. “We have been praying for their safe return and today’s development has given us hope,” said Jagtar Singh, father of Satminder Singh of Barnala.Oberoi, who had saved over 70 youths from the gallows and also got another 17 youths on death row in UAE from Punjab and Haryana released in the past, said most of the young men from Punjab indulged in the bootlegging business there which is illegal and a very serious offence. indian express
‘Unshackled’: What Kashmir Reader’s front page said after lifting of ban
Srinagar: Kashmir Reader, an English daily from the Valley that was banned since Oct.2, hit the stands on Wednesday, a day after the ban was formally revoked.The publication of the newspaper was banned by the state govt since Oct.2 for “inciting violence”.The order received by the newspaper from the Srinagar DM on Tuesday read: “Kashmir Reader was directed to abstain from printing and publishing under Section 144 CrPC. That order remains enforceable for two months only as such has lapsed on 30/11/2016. Since no extension has been ordered by the govt , there is no ban on publishing of the newspaper as on date”.Jumping back into business, the newspaper’s front page carried reports of people blinded by the use of pellet guns. The two case studies were accompanied by an editorial headlined: “UNSHACKLED — We are back!” The piece said it was the paper’s “greatest pleasure” to resume its “duty to our readers, the most important aspect of a newspaper, to whom we owe gratitude”.HT
Separatist Masarat Alam set free by HC, but J&K govt will block release
Srinagar: J&K govt has decided to slap another preventive detention law on Masarat Alam Bhat, the separatist Islamist leader of Muslim League in Kashmir, after the high court ordered his release on Tuesday.Alam is considered the mastermind of the 2010 unrest in which over 120 persons were killed and many injured in violent demonstrations across the state, which continued for more than 3 months. However, he was arrested under PSA in Oct.2010.The court's verdict was based on the ground that the detention order against Alam had been issued merely on one single allegation against him. However, highly placed sources in the state govt  said that Alam was not likely to be released. "The govt  may keep him in preventive custody with fresh charges already registered against him," official sources said.TOI
HC rejects plea to interfere in Bhopal ‘encounter’ probe
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh high court declined to interfere in the alleged SIMI encounter probe, citing that a designated panel is already handling the case.Disposing of a petition, MP HC on Wednesday declined to interfere in the alleged SIMI encounter probe, citing that a designated panel is already handling the case. Abdul Rashid, brother of Abdul Majid — one of the 8  SIMI suspects killed in an alleged encounter in October — had filed a petition seeking a probe through an independent agency. He is a resident of Mahidpur in Ujjain.In his plea, Abdul wanted the HC to direct the respondents to keep the case evidence in a sealed cover, to be opened only before the inquiry commission in presence of petitioner’s counsel. Justice Sanjay Yadav, however, rejected the petition and observed that “the matter is being inquired upon by a panel, constituted under Commission of Inquiry Act and comprising a retired high court judge...this court refrains from causing indulgence.”HT
Bhopal jailbreak, encounter, Probe proceeding at a snail’s pace: Free Press Journal
SIMI encounter haunted Shivraj Chouhan in 2016: PTI
Owaisi, 4 others acquitted in 2005 Masjid demolition case
New Delhi: AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi and 4 others were acquitted in 2005 Muthangi Masjid demolition case by Medak’s Sangareddy Court. After the verdict was announced, Owaisi took to Twitter questioning Congress’ reaction after this pronouncement. He asked if the party will apologise for allowing the demolition of the masjid without due process of the law.He tweeted, “Will Congi leaders have courtesy to apologise they where in power 2005 false case reg, they allowed masjid demolition w/o due process of law.” indian express
Chargesheet filed against terror suspect Abdul Rehman
Cuttack: Odisha Police today filed a chargesheet against AQIS suspect Abdul Rehman who was arrested by the Delhi Police from the outskirts of Cuttack on Dec.15, 2015.Sources said the special task force of the Odisha Polices crime branch filed the chargesheet against Rehman in a court at Salepur.Rehman was running a madrasa here at an isolated place where young children from neighbouring Jharkhand were put in a very unhygienic condition. PTI
 Muslim children’s festival ‘Taare Zameen Par’ begins in Goa: Maulana Jalaluddin Umari delivers inaugural speech
Verna (Goa): Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) Ameer (President) Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari called upon the Muslim community to provide opportunities to the younger generation of the community to excel in education.In a televised address at the inaugural function of Taare Zameen Par – Muslim Children’s Festival, Maulana Umari said that the Muslims of others states in the country should emulate TZP event being organized in Goa and take initiatives to impart the Islamic knowledge with new orientations.“The biggest challenge before us is how we nurture our future generation so that they are successful in this life and the hereafter. It is the responsibility of the parents to provide the best upbringing of their children. While they have to provide them the best of contemporary education, they should also be provided with the best of Islamic knowledge”, he stated.Board of Islamic Education (BIE) in association with Hikmah Foundation’s House of Wisdom is organizing the first ever Muslim Children’s Festival titled ‘Taare Zameen Par’ (TZP) from 26 – 30 Dec.at Gulmohar Baug Complex at Verna. Chief Guest of the function, Dr Taha Mateen who is the National Convenor of the Medical Service Society emphasized on the need to inculcate moral values in the younger generation. JIH Goa President Abdul Waheed Khan said that the Muslims in Goa need to overcome the inferiority complex and realize that the community children are equally competent in every field.TCN
Madras High Court judge raises doubts over Jayalalithaa’s death, says truth must come out
New Delhi: A fresh controversy surrounding former Tamil Nadu CM  J Jayalalithaa’s death ignited Thursday when Justice Vaidyalingam of the Madras High Court expressed doubts over her demise.“Media has raised a lot of doubts, personally I also have doubts in Jayalalithaa’s death,”said Justice Vaidyalingam. He was hearing a petition demanding an inquiry into ex-CM ’s death. “When she was admitted in hospital, it was said that she was on proper diet. At least after her death now, truth should be revealed,” he said.Several petitions, including one moved by expelled AIADMK MP Sasikala, have been filed in courts over Jayalalithaa’s death. ndian express
Why can't we order exhumation of Jayalalithaa's body, asks Madras HC
Sasikala has accepted AIADMK general secretary post, Paneerselvam says
Dalit Muslim Vikas Party: Founder dead, so is the party
New Delhi:Dalit Muslim Vikas Party has been dormant since its president, Abdul Kadir Barni, died in 2009. At the registered address, Barni’s home, are now Nazeer Hussain and his family. “My father did register a political party, and this was its address, but I know nothing further about it,” said Hussain. He said he did not know the year of the party’s registration, or the number of office-bearers. “We still receive mail in the party’s name, but the party itself wound up after my father’s death. I don’t know who or where the other members were, but the Dalit Muslim Vikas Party is no more,” he said. indian express
AIMIM’s track record of fighting elections shows it only picks states where BJP is strong: Soroor Ahmed, TCN
Jharkhand: FB post leads to communal tension, 5 arrested
Medininagar: Objectionable material, posted on Facebook on Tuesday night, triggered communal tension in Medininagar town. 5 persons were on Wednesday arrested by the police here in Palamau district for allegedly attacking people and ransacking shops following a write-up on the social media on animal sacrifice. The objectionable material, posted on Facebook on Tuesday night, triggered communal tension in this town, prompting the police to act swiftly and arrest 5 persons, including Mohammad Taz who wrote the post, Palamau SP Indrajeet Mahatha said. PTI
National Anthem: No section under which arrests can be made, relying on recent SC order, says Kerala’s DGP
New Delhi:  Touching upon this national anthem controversy that has taken the state by storm, Loknath Behera, Kerala’s DGP, who had worked with the NIA and had been involved in highly sensitive cases including the Staines case, Mumbai serial blast,Purulia arms case, among others, said,"There is no such law or section under which such an arrest can be made – action is taken based on the recent Supreme Court judgement on respecting the national anthem. In this context, legal pundits say that those who violate it are violating SC’s judgement."
Court cannot decide faith of millions of Hindus on Ram temple: VHP leader Champatrai
VHP is not ready to accept the division of a piece of land of Ram Temple in Ayodhya as per the decision of Allahabad High Court. The action plan will be prepared in the meet of VHP to pressurise Central Govt to pass a bill in the Parliament to pave way for the construction of Ram Temple.Champatrai, General Secretary of International Wing of VHP said, suit was not filed to decide the partition of the land, but is a matter of faith of millions of Hindus. It is well beyond the purview of the court. Verdict of Allahabad HC cannot satisfy Hindus as well as Muslims. The order was challenged in the Supreme Court and got stayed. Thehitavada
With rents as low as Rs 50 a month, Doon Waqf properties making huge loss
AAP announces Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh as candidate against Punjab CM from home turf Lambi
WORLD
Countrywide ceasefire in Syria begins at midnight today, says Putin: Turkey confirms
Russian President Vladimir Putin says an agreement has been reached on a countrywide ceasefire plan for Syria, with Russia and Turkey to act as guarantors. Syrian state news agency SANA said on Thursday that the ceasefire announcement excluded the ISIL group and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front.Putin said the truce was set to begin at midnight on Thursday and would be followed by peace talks between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's govt and the opposition in the Kazakh capital Astana.He also said that the Russian military had been ordered to scale down its presence in Syria, where it has been providing crucial support to Assad's forces.He did not say how many troops and weapons would be withdrawn but said Russia would continue "fighting international terrorism in Syria" and would maintain its presence at both an air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and the naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartus."The agreements that have been reached are no doubt very fragile and they demand attention and follow-up in order to keep them and develop them. Nevertheless, it's a significant result of our work, the defence ministry, the ministry of foreign affairs, our partners in the region.Sergei Shoigu, Russia's defence minister said the truce would include 62,000 opposition fighters across Syria, and that the Russian military has established a hotline with its Turkish counterpart to monitor compliance.Turkish foreign ministry confirmed the agreement and called on countries with influence on groups fighting in the country to provide the necessary support for the ceasefire to last.Al Jazeera's Natasha Ghoneim, reporting from Moscow, said 3 different documents had been signed in a trilateral agreement between Russia, Turkey and Iran."The first document lays out an agreement between the Syrian govt and opposition groups on the ground. The second document includes measures designed to control the ceasefire and the third lays out what needs to happen next in order for there to be peace talks." " Details about the agreement remained hazy, our correspondent said, and it was unclear which opposition groups had been involved in the negotiating process.Putin also said that the Russian military had been ordered to scale down its presence in Syria, where it has been providing crucial support to Assad's forces. aljazeera
Russia, Turkey, Iran eye cutting Syria into zones of influence:Reuters
 Russia announces nationwide Syria ceasefire deal
Putin says Syrian govt, opposition sign ceasefire deal
Turkey and Russia 'agree' on nationwide Syria ceasefire
Iraq resumes Mosul operation after a two-week lull
Iraqi troops backed by US-led air strikes have pushed deeper into eastern Mosul after a two-week lull in the operation to retake the city held by the ISIL group.Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a senior officer in Iraq's counterterrorism service, said the second phase of the operation, now in its third month, began on Thursday. aljazeera
2,093 Saudi Daesh members
The  latest figures from the Saudi Ministry of Interior show that there are 2,093 Saudi citizens abroad fighting for Daesh, with just under three quarters of them in Syria.In an interview with Saudi funded pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat, Mansoor Al-Turki, spokesperson for the Saudi Ministry of Interior, said that there are currently 1,540 Saudis fighting in Syria, 147 fighting in Yemen,31 in Afghanistan and Pakistan, five in Iraq and 297 in various other parts of the world. middleeastmonitor
Iran’s Gulf Ally Oman Said to Signal Rapprochement With Saudis
Oman told Saudi Arabia it will join a Saudi-led military alliance, the kingdom’s official news agency reported, a sign that Iran’s closest ally in the region is ready to improve its ties with the kingdom.Oman’s defense minister sent a letter to Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announcing the decision to join the Islamic Military Alliance Against Terrorism, the Saudi Press Agency said. The prince will go to Oman in the coming weeks to pave the way for a visit by King Salman, according to a person familiar with the matter. The king’s trip would help re-establish security, military and economic cooperation, the person said on condition of anonymity.Oman’s ties with Saudi Arabia and its allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council have been strained because of its close relationship with Iran, the kingdom’s biggest regional rival.Bloomberg
New York Police Dept allows Sikh and Muslim officers to grow beards
New York Police Department has relaxed its policies to allow Sikh and Muslim officers to grow beards of 1.27cm long for religious reasons, in a move aimed recruiting more minorities.Police Commissioner James O'Neill announced the new rule on Wednesday following a graduation ceremony for new police recruits.Under the revised rules, Sikh officers will also be allowed to wear turbans in place of the traditional police cap, O'Neill said.Officers would need approval to wear the turban that would have to be navy blue and have the NYPD insignia attached. Aljazeera
US, Israel relations hit rock bottom: In parting shot, John Kerry says Jewish state is ruled by ‘most right-wing govt’
US-Isreal relationship has hit rock botton following US Secretary of State John Kerry’s claim that Israel is ruled by the “the most right-wing” govt  in its history which believes only in one state solution.Kerry’s claim on Wednesday has divided the US lawmakers and raised eyebrows in both Israel and the incoming Donald Trump administration in the US. In an hour-long speech on Wednesday, Kerry said the US supports the two-state solution to Israel-Palestine conflict and believes it is the only way to achieve a lasting peace in the reason.The outgoing Obama administration’s parting shot, however, invited angry reactions not just from Israeli PM Netanyahu but also from Trump, who asked Israel to “stay strong” till he takes over the Presidency from Obama on Jan.20. financialexpress
John Kerry: 2-state 'peace solution in jeopardy'
Brotherhood leader complains of abuse inside Egyptian prison
Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie has complained of harassment inside prison, raising objections to his mistreatment because he “has never offended or abused anyone along his life,” Anadolu reported yesterday.The complaint came during Badie’s hearing along with 682 other Brotherhood leaders and members.During his dialogue with the court, Badie said: “I do not care about chanting against me, but insulting my mother and father or spitting at me inside the prison, this is not acceptable.” He asked the court to stop the prisoners abusing him. middleeastmonitor
Iranian investments in Egyptian media likely to anger Saudi
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 7:43 PM)

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