Tag Archives: Saudi Arabia

VIF News Digest: National Security – Defence Studies & Terrorism, 01-15 February 2023


  • Defence Budget 2023-24.
  • Mission Mode (MM) projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Commander of Royal Cambodian Army visiting India.
  • HAL’s Helicopter Factory at Tumakuru inaugurated by PM.
  • Operation Dost.
  • NSA Shri Ajit Doval visited Moscow from 07-09 February 2023.
  • Maiden landing of LCA Navy and Mig-29K fighter aircraft on board INS Vikrant.
  • MoD signs contract worth over Rs 2,585 crore, for Corps of Engineers of Indian Army.
  • 11th meeting of India-Mongolia Joint Working Group.
  • Prime Minister inaugurates Aero India 2023
  • Defence Secretary meets delegations from Saudi Arabia, USA and Oman on the sidelines of Aero India 2023
  • Defence Secretary meets UK Delegation.
  • Raksha Mantri hosts Defence Ministers’ Conclave.
  • Indigenous manufacturing of aero-engines; MoD working on the details
  • Raksha Mantri calls for joint efforts to develop India as MRO hub.
  • Defence Secretary holds talks with several defence delegations.
  • Record 75 per cent of defence capital procurement budget earmarked for domestic industry in FY 2023-24.


  • “lack of employment- a main driver of violent extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa”: UNDP
  • Taliban killed three IS operatives in a raid in Kabul.
  • “Afghanistan remains primary source of terrorist threat for Central and South Asia”: UN report.
East Asia
  • South Korean police arrested two foreigners funding terrorist groups using cryptocurrency.
  • Singaporean law-enforcement authorities detained an 18 years-old IS supporter for planning terror attacks in the country.


Jammu and Kashmir
  • Security forces arrested six JeM terrorists from Kulgam.
Left-Wing Extremism
  • A key-Maoist surrendered in Jharkhand.
Islamic Extremism (excluding J&K)
  • NIA searched multiple locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka in connection with ‘Coimbatore car bomb blast’ and ‘Mangaluru blast’ cases.
  • “Popular Front of India wanted to turn Bharat into Islamic State by 2047”: Maharashtra ATS.
  • NIA filed charge sheet against a PFI operative in ‘Activities of IS module in India’ case.
  • NIA arrested two accused in the ‘Phulwarisharif Patna PFI’ case.
Khalistan-inspired Extremism
  • Bharat condemned vandalism in Melbourne, Australia.
Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) cases
  • Assam-based FICN racket busted in West Bengal.
  • STF team recovered FICNs worth ₹ 31 lakh from Odisha.


Defence Budget 2023-24.

The Armed Forces allocation fornon-Salary revenue outlay has been enhanced to Rs 90,000 crore in BE 2023-24, representing a 44% jump. The Union Budget for Financial Year 2023-24 envisages a total outlay of Rs 45,03,097 crore. Of this, Ministry of Defence has been allocated a total Budget of Rs 5,93,537.64 crore, which is 13.18 % of the total budget. This includes an amount of Rs 1,38,205 crore for Defence Pensions. The total Defence Budget represents an enhancement of Rs 68,371.49 crore (13%) over the Budget of 2022-23. The Capital Allocations pertaining to modernisation and infrastructure development of the Defence Services has been increased to Rs 1,62,600 crore representing a rise of Rs 10,230 crore (6.7%) over FY 2022-23.
For more information: Click here to read…

Mission Mode (MM) projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Government has worked out the Mission Mode (MM) projects of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). As on date, DRDO is working on 55 MM Projects for a total sanctioned cost of Rs 73,942.82 crore. These are in the area of Decoys, Nuclear Defence Technologies, Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), Combat Suite, Propulsion System, Air Droppable Container, Torpedo, Fighter Aircraft, Cruise Missile, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, AEW&C Aircraft System, Gas Turbine Engine, Assault Rifle, Warhead, Light Machine Gun, Rocket, Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS), Infantry Combat Vehicle Command, Ordnance Disposal System, Tactical Radios, EW Systems, Radars, Life Support System, Geographical Information System, Surface to Air Missile, Anti-ship Missile, anti-Airfield Weapon, Glide Bomb, Simulator etc.
Reference: Click here to read…

Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Commander of Royal Cambodian Army visiting India.

Lieutenant General Hun Manet, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Commander of Royal Cambodian Army along with a delegation visited India from 02 to 04 February 2023. This was the maiden visit by any Commander of Royal Cambodian Army and is a milestone in Army to Army relations between both countries. He called on Mr Giridhar Aramane, Defence Secretary and was briefed on Indian indigenous defence equipment manufacturing eco-system by the Department of Defence Production (DDP) and the Army Design Bureau. He later called-on the Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Jagdeep Dhankar, Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh, Hon’ble External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar and Deputy National Security Advisor Mr Vikram Misri.
For more information: Click here to read…

HAL’s Helicopter Factory at Tumakuru inaugurated by PM.

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Helicopter Factory at Tumakuru in Karnataka on February 06, 2023. He took a walk through of the Helicopter Facility & Structure Hangar and unveiled the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). The factory is India’s largest helicopter manufacturing facility and will initially produce LUHs. The LUH is an indigenously designed and developed three-ton class, single engine multipurpose utility helicopter with unique features of high maneuverability. Initially, this factory will produce around 30 helicopters per year and can be enhanced to 60 and then 90 per year in a phased manner.

The Greenfield Helicopter Factory, spread across 615 acres of land, is planned with a vision to become a one-stop solution for all helicopter requirements of the country. After initially producing LUHs, the factory will be augmented to produce other helicopters such as Light Combat Helicopters (LCHs) and Indian Multirole Helicopters (IMRHs). It will also be used for Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul of LCH, LUH, Civil Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and IMRH in the future. Potential exports of civil LUH will also be catered to from this factory. The HAL plans to produce more than 1,000 helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonnes, with a total business of over Rs four lakh crores over a period of 20 years.
For more information: Click here to read…

Operation Dost

Following the massive earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria on 6 February 2023, Prime Minister directed that all possible assistance be extended to the affected people. In pursuance of this, Operation Dost was launched to provide necessary support in terms of search and rescue (SAR) efforts as well as medical assistance. This swift response led to the first C-17 IAF aircraft with a specialized SAR team leaving for Türkiye within hours of a request of assistance being received. Since then, India has been able to send more than 250 personnel, specialized equipment and other relief material amounting to more than 135 tons to Türkiye on 5 C-17 IAF aircrafts.

These include three self-sustained teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) numbering more than 150 specially trained personnel, along with dog squads, specialized equipment, vehicles and supplies. Their equipment allows for detection, location, access and extrication of people trapped under collapsed structures. In addition, personnel and equipment have been sent to set up a 30-bed self-sustained field hospital of the Indian Army. This includes a team of 99 specially trained personnel, with essential medicines, advanced equipment, vehicles and ambulances. The hospital will provide for a fully functional Operation Theatre, and facilities such as X-ray, ventilators, etc.
For more information: Click here to read…

NSA Shri Ajit Doval visited Moscow from 07-09 February 2023.

NSA visited Moscow from 07-09 February 2023. He participated at the 5th Multilateral Meeting of Secretaries of Security Councils/National Security Advisers on Afghanistan on 08 February 2023. Apart from the host country, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan were represented at this meeting. Issues discussed included the security and humanitarian challenges facing Afghanistan.

In his remarks, NSA stressed the need to ensure that the territory of Afghanistan does not become a source of radicalization and terrorism, regionally or globally, as well as to intensify intelligence and security cooperation to deal with terror outfits, including those designated under the UNSCR 1267. He also pointed out that the well-being and humanitarian needs of the Afghan people is India’s foremost priority.

NSA also called on the President of the Russian Federation Mr. Vladimir Putin and had wide-ranging discussions on bilateral and regional issues. It was agreed to continue work towards implementing the India-Russia special and privileged strategic partnership.

On 09 February 2023, NSA held a bilateral dialogue with Secretary of the Russian Security Council, and discussed issues, including bilateral relations, regional and international developments. He also met with Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and Minister of Trade and Industry and discussed issues pertaining to bilateral defence and economic cooperation.
For more information: Click here to read…

Maiden landing of LCA Navy and Mig-29K fighter aircraft onboard INS Vikrant.

The Carrier has been undertaking extensive Air Operations with Rotary Wing and Fixed Wing aircraft since 13 Dec 22 towards Air Certification and Flight Integration Trials for achieving the ultimate aim of being ‘Combat Ready’. As part of the aviation trials, landing of LCA (Navy) and MiG-29K on board INS Vikrant was carried out on 06 Feb 23 for the first time.
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MoD signs contract worth over Rs 2,585 crore, for Corps of Engineers of Indian Army.

Ministry of Defence has approved the proposal for indigenous manufacture of 41 sets of Modular Bridges for the Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. These game-changing bridges have been designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and shall be produced by Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as DRDO-nominated production agency. The contract for the procurement of Modular Bridges was signed with L&T on February 08, 2023 at an estimated cost of over Rs 2,585 crore.
For more information:

11th meeting of India-Mongolia Joint Working Group.

The 11th meeting of India-Mongolia Joint Working Group was held today on 10th February 2023 in New Delhi. Both sides reviewed the progress on various bilateral defence cooperation initiatives and identified means to further enhance the existing areas of cooperation and articulated steps in this direction. During the meeting, both the sides expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries despite the limitations imposed by Covid-19 pandemic.

India established diplomatic relations with Mongolia in 1955. The Indian Resident Mission in Ulaanbaatar was opened in 1971. This relationship was upgraded to “strategic partnership” in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Mongolia and declared it as an essential component of ‘Act East Policy’.
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Prime Minister inaugurates Aero India 2023.

Prime Minister inaugurated the 14th edition of Asia’s largest aero show –– Aero India 2023 – in Bengaluru, Karnataka on February 13, 2023. February 13th to 15th were the business days, while 16th & 17th were public days to allow people to witness the show. The event comprised of a Defence Ministers’ Conclave; a CEOs Round Table; Manthan start-up event; Bandhan ceremony; breath-taking air shows; a large exhibition; India Pavilion and a trade fair of aerospace companies.

Organised at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in a total area of around 35,000 sqm, the event, the biggest-ever till date, witnessed the participation of 98 countries. The Defence Ministers of 32 countries, Air Chiefs of 29 countries and 73 CEOs of global and Indian OEMs were expected to attend the event. Eight hundred and nine (809) defence companies, including MSMEs and start-ups, showcased the advancement in niche technologies and the growth in aerospace and defence sector.
For more information: Click here to read…

Defence Secretary meets delegations from Saudi Arabia, USA and Oman on the sidelines of Aero India 2023.

Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane held bilateral meetings on 12 February 2023 with three defence delegations on the sidelines of Aero India 2023 at Bengaluru. Defence Secretary met Mr. Engr Turki Saad, General Manager Industrial Relations, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and discussed a number of bilateral defence cooperation issues.

A US delegation led by Mr. Jedijiah P. Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, and accompanied by Ambassador Elizabeth Jones, Charge D’Affairs US Embassy and Maj Gen Julian Cheator, US Air Force, met the Defence Secretary.
A wide range of ongoing and future defence cooperation issues were discussed. US is participating in Aero India with a number of officials, companies and aircrafts.

Later, Defence Secretary met a delegation from Oman led by HE Dr Mohammed Nasser Al Zaabi, Secretary General, Ministry of Defence. The ongoing defence cooperation was reviewed and possible opportunities for increasing the depth and scope of engagements was discussed.
Reference: Click here to read…

Defence Secretary meets UK Delegation.

Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane had a bilateral meeting with UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement Mr Alex Chalk. The meeting was conducted on the side-lines of the Aero India 2023 which was inaugurated by Hon’ble Prime Minister on 13 February 2023. A number of ongoing and future defence cooperation issues were discussed including areas for potential defence industrial cooperation. The UK Minister was accompanied by British High Commissioner to India Mr Alex Ellis.
Reference: Click here to read…

Raksha Mantri hosts Defence Ministers’ Conclave.

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh hosted the Defence & Deputy Defence Ministers of 27 countries at the Defence Ministers’ Conclave held on the sidelines of Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru on February 14, 2023. The broad theme of the conclave was ‘Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence’ (SPEED). It sought to address aspects related to deepening cooperation for capacity building (through investments, R&D, joint ventures, co-development, co-production and provisioning of defence equipment), training, space, AI and maritime security to grow together.

Over 160 delegates from several countries, including Defence & Deputy Defence Ministers from 27 countries, 15 Defence and Service Chiefs and 12 Permanent Secretaries from 80 countries participated in the conclave attesting to India’s tremendous growth and engagement in the defence and security sectors.
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Indigenous manufacturing of aero-engines; MoD working on the details.

Ministry of Defence is working on the details of indigenous manufacturing of aero-engines to provide a new fillip to the aerospace sector and achieve complete self-reliance. This was stated by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh during his inaugural address at a seminar titled ‘Indigenous Development of ‘Futuristic Aerospace Technologies including Way Forward for Development of Indigenous Aero Engines’, organised by Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) as part of 14th Aero India in Bengaluru on February 14, 2023.
For more information: Click here to read…

Raksha Mantri calls for joint efforts to develop India as MRO hub.

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has called for joint efforts to develop India as a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) hub. He emphasised the need for MRO services to safeguard our defence equipment and systems, and protect our defence forces. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the seminar on “Sustenance in MRO and Obsolescence Mitigation: Op capability Enhancers in Aerospace Domain” organised by the Indian Air Force at Aero India 2023 on February 14, 2023.

Speaking on the need to give a push to indigenisation, Shri Rajnath Singh mentioned that the requirement for minimum 50% indigenous content in ‘Buy Indian- IDDM’ category currently does not include maintenance. He suggested that the procurement cost as well as maintenance and support should have 50% indigenous content to make the acquisition truly “Buy Indian- IDDM” and give a boost to Aatmanirbharta. He further pointed out the need to consider the cost of defence products over their entire lifespan. “The Life Cycle cost of high value defence equipment, including service and maintenance, should be examined at the time of acquisition for a clear estimate of total expenditure on these products throughout their usable life, and to enable us to get better value for money”, he suggested. He said that this will also enable us to understand the overall financial implications and estimate the level of indigenisation in particular defence equipment.
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Defence Secretary holds talks with several defence delegations.

Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane met a number of defence delegations on the sidelines of Aero India 2023 at Bengaluru on 14 February 2023. A bilateral meeting was held with UAE delegation led by Mr Matar Salem Ali Marran Aldhaheri, Defence Secretary, Ministry of Defence, UAE. They discussed a number of ongoing defence cooperation issues and expressed satisfaction at the regular military engagements.

Defence Secretary met a Myanmar delegation led by Lt Gen Kan Myint Than, Chief of Defence Industries. The ongoing defence cooperation issues were discussed. A bilateral meeting was held with Brazil. The Brazilian delegation was led by Brig Rui Chagas Mesquita, Head of Secretariat for Defence Production. They discussed a number of defence industrial cooperation issues and the possibilities for further cooperation.

Defence Secretary met a Cambodia delegation led by Gen Yun Min, Secretary of State, Ministry of National Defence. They reviewed the current cooperation between the two countries and discussed ways to enhance the defence cooperation.
A bilateral meeting was organized with Ms Katerina Gramatikova, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Republic of Bulgaria with Defence Secretary. Issues related to defence industrial cooperation were discussed.

A Mauritius delegation led by Mr Kechan Balgobin, Permanent Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Mauritius met Defence Secretary Shri Giridhar Aramane. They considered the ongoing and future defence cooperation matters and exchanged views on important issues.
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Record 75 per cent of defence capital procurement budget earmarked for domestic industry in FY 2023-24.

Record 75 per cent (approx. Rs one lakh crore) of the defence capital procurement budget has been earmarked for domestic industry in Financial Year (FY) 2023-24, up from 68 per cent in 2022-23. This was announced by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh during the Bandhan ceremony of 14th Aero India in Bengaluru on February 15, 2023.

The Bandhan ceremony also witnessed the forging of 266 partnerships including 201 MoUs, 53 major announcements, nine product launches and three Transfers of Technology, worth around Rs 80,000 crore.
For more information: Click here to read…


“Lack of employment- a main driver of violent extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa”: UNDP.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report— Journey to Extremism in Africa: Pathways to Recruitment and Disengagement, released on 07 February 2023, lack of job opportunities is the leading factor driving people to join violent extremist groups in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“Lack of income, lack of employment and livelihoods, means that desperation is essentially pushing people to take up opportunities, with whoever offers that,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP administrator.

Sub-Saharan Africa has become a new global epicenter of violent extremism with almost half of global terrorism deaths recorded there in 2021. After lack of employment, peer pressure from family members or friends is cited as second most common driver; followed by religious ideology for joining up the terror group.
For more information: Click here to read…

Taliban killed three IS operatives in a raid in Kabul.

In an overnight operation on 14-15 February 2023, the Taliban’s intelligence wing killed three Islamic State (IS) terrorists and arrested one during a raid in the Karti Naw neighbourhood in Kabul. According to a Taliban-appointed spokesman for Afghanistan’s General Director of Intelligence— Khalil Hamraz, “the raid on a residential building targeted IS terrorists who were involved in recent attacks in Kabul.”
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“Afghanistan remains primary source of terrorist threat for Central and South Asia”: UN report.

The United Nations (UN)’s 31st report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (ISIS/ISIL, al-Qa’ida) highlighted that due to the Taliban’s failure to implement a successful security policy, organisations like the Islamic State (IS/ISIL/ISIS), al-Qa’ida, and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) continue to pose a significant threat to Central and South Asia.

The report also mentioned that IS’s branch in Afghanistan— Islamic State-Khurasan Province (IS-KP) is the primary rival to the Taliban de-facto administration, having strategic focus on Afghanistan and beyond in the historical Khurasan region. IS-KP’s main objective is to unearthed the Taliban’s in-capabilities to provide effective security in the country. By attacking diplomatic missions, IS-KP seeks to undermine the relationship between the Taliban and neighbouring countries.
For more information: Click here to read…

East Asia
South Korean police arrested two foreigners funding terrorist groups using crypto currency.

On 15 February, South Korea’s National Police Agency (NPA) arrested two foreign nationals for funding al-Qa’ida-linked terrorist group— Katibat al-Tawhidwal-Jihad (KTJ), using crypto currency. Police arrested an Uzbek and a Kazakh man who were later sent to the Supreme Prosecutors Office on charges of breaking the anti-terrorism and anti-terrorist funding acts. The United Nations (UN) designated KTJ as a terrorist group in March 2022. According to the police statement, in December 2022, nine foreign nationals were arrested on charges of funding KTJ and were later deported. It was suspected, the Uzbek collected some 10 million won (USD 7,770) by instigating other foreigners based in Yeongam, South Jeolla province, and sending funds to KTJ since August 2022. The Kazak national allegedly sent 01 million won of crypto currency to KTJ.
For more information:Click here to read…

Singaporean law-enforcement authorities detained an 18 years-old IS supporter for planning terror attacks in the country.

Singaporean law-enforcement agency detained an 18 years-old Islamic State (IS) supporter for allegedly planning to carry out terror attacks in the country. As reported, Muhammad Irfan Danyal bin Mohammad Nor, a Singaporean student, was detained under the Internal Security Act. “Muhammad Irfan became radicalised after viewing IS group propaganda online, adding that he wanted to use social media to gather terrorists to conduct attacks in Singapore”, read the statement released by the authorities.
For more information: Click here to read…


Jammu and Kashmir
Security forces arrested six JeM terrorists from Kulgam.

On 03 February 2023, security forces arrested six Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists— i) Shahid Ahmad Padder, ii) Ubaid Ahmad Itoo, iii) Danish Ahmad Dar, iv) Nawaz Ahmad Ganie, v) Abid Mushtaq, and vi)Kifayat Ahmad Lone, from Kulgam district and recovered huge cache of arms and ammunition from their possession. “On the basis of intelligence inputs regarding carrying out of subversive actions in Mirhama and Damhal Hanjipora area of Kulgam district, joint team of Police and 9 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) arrested six JeM terrorists in the operations,” said police.

Security forces recovered a pistol, a pistol magazine, eight pistol rounds, a hand grenade, four UBGL (Under Barrel Grenade Launcher) shell, 30 rounds of AK-47, 446 rounds of M4, eight magazines of M4, one each magazine of AK-47 and INSAS, a wireless set and four walkie-talkies.
For more information: Click here to read…

Left-Wing Extremism
A ‘regional commander’ surrendered in Jharkhand.

On 10 February 2022, a key Maoist— Mithilesh Singh aka Duryodhan Mahto, who carried a bounty of ₹ 15 lakh, surrendered before security forces in Ranchi district, Jharkhand. Mithilesh was a ‘regional commander of the CPI (Maoist) group. He was ‘most-wanted’ in 104 cases in various districts of the State.

“In past three years, more than 1,300 Maoists were arrested, around 50 Maoists surrendered and 31 of them were killed in gunfight with security forces. The base area of the Maoists has shrunk, and they are now restricted to few pockets in the State,” said Inspector-General (IG) of Police (Operations)—Amol V Homkar.
For more information: Click here to read…

Islamic Extremism (excluding J&K)
NIA searched multiple locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka in connection with ‘Coimbatore car bomb blast’ and ‘Mangaluru blast’ cases.

On 15 February 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) searched 32 locations in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in connection with the ‘Coimbatore car bomb blast’ case— RC-01/2022/NIA/CHE and eight locations in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka in ‘Mangaluru blast’ case— RC-47/2022/NIA/DLI.

The case— RC-01/2022/NIA/CHE pertains to a bomb blast in a car, laden with explosives in front of Kottai Eswaran temple in Coimbatore district. The accused— Jamesha Mubeen, after swearing allegiance to Islamic State (IS), planned to carry out a suicide attack on 23 October 2022. The case— RC-47/2022/NIA/DLI relates to a ‘pressure cooker bomb’/improvised explosive device (IED) blast that took place in a moving auto-rickshaw in Mangaluru, Karnataka. In two cases, during the search operations large numbers of digital devices and cash amounting to ₹ 4 lakh.
For more information: Click here to read…

“Popular Front of India wanted to turn Bharat into Islamic State by 2047”: Maharashtra ATS.

In its charge sheet filed in a local court on 02 February 2023, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) highlighted that the Popular Front of India (PFI), a banned organisation, aimed to establish the ‘Rule of Islam’ in Bharat by 2047, and also had plans to obtain arms and ammunition with the assistance from foreign countries or their organisations to achieve the objectives. The ATS claimed to have recovered a document called— “India 2047-towards rule of Islam in India”.

As per the charge sheet, PFI wanted to create a split among several communities by projecting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as an organisation interested in the welfare of upper-caste Hindus.
For more information: Click here to read…

NIA filed charge sheet against a PFI operative in ‘Activities of IS module in India’ case.

On 11 February 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filed a charge sheet against Mohammad Sohail, a PFI operative involved in conspiracy to disturb peace and spread communal hatred and enmity. Mohammad Sohail, along with other PFI members, have conspired to radicalise Muslim youth to commit violent and unlawful activities. Mohammad Sohail was arrested on 10 February 2023 from Jaipur, Rajasthan.
For more information: Click here to read…

NIA arrested two operatives in the ‘Phulwarisharif Patna PFI’ case.

On 04 February 2023, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) searched eight locations and arrested two PFI operatives— i) TanveerRaza, and ii) Mohammad Abid, from Motihari, Bihar, in ‘Phulwarisharif Patna PFI’ case. Both accused were involved in conspiracy to carry out targeted killing in East Champaran district, Bihar. Few days ago, Yakoob, the PFI trainer, had posted derogatory and inflammatory Facebook video post which was aimed at disturbing the peace and harmony. Other users on Facebook trolled this post abusively. Yakoob, Tanveer, and Abid had identified some of the users and conspired to execute the killing of targeted users.
For more information: Click here to read…

Khalistan-inspired Extremism
Bharat condemned vandalism in Melbourne, Australia.

On 02 February 2023, Bharat condemned the recent anti-Bharat incidents of vandalism in various parts of Australia and asked the Australian government to ensure that country’s territory is not used for activities detrimental to “Bharat’s security, integrity, and national interest”.

“We (Bharat) strongly condemn such attacks by extremist elements. We urge the local authorities to investigate and punish the perpetrators. We have been repeatedly taking up with the Australian authorities our concerns about actions by such elements, including the proscribed terrorist organisations. Bharat has expressed a firm rejection of the Khalistan referendum and other politically-motivated activities by extremist elements,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)’s spokesman Arindam Bagchi.
For more information: Click here to read…

Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) cases
Assam-based FICN racket busted in West Bengal.

On 01 February 2023, the Kolkata Special Task Force (STF)’s anti-FICN team busted an Assam-based Fake Indian Currency Note (FICN) racket and arrested two racketeers— i) Abdul Rejjak Khan, and ii) Shahar Ali. During the arrest, STF team recovered a total of 2,000 notes of ₹ 500 from the possession of the duo. STF registered the case under Sections 120B, 489B, and 489C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
For more information: Click here to read…

STF team recovered FICNs worth ₹ 31 lakh from Odisha.

On 01 February 2023, Odisha’s Special Task Force (STF) and police seized a consignment of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICNs) worth ₹ 31 lakh during a raid in Bolangir district in Odisha. The joint team seized FICNs from a man standing near the main gate of Titlagarh bus stand.
For more information: Click here to read…

West Asia Roundup-December 2022


For West Asia, 2022 ended with a hectic diplomatic activity. Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) of Saudi Arabia visited several countries in the region to ensure the presence of West Asian leaders at the ensuing China -Gulf and China -Arab Summits during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Kingdom from December 6-8. The statements issued were quite significant as China tried to retrieve and reinforce its regional influence and sync its BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) projects with the Vision 2030 and developmental paradigms of various regional powers. President Xi has been successfully able to wade through the regional rivalries especially between the Sunni Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the Shia Islamist regime in Iran as well as the Israeli dynamic while underscoring the support to the Palestinian cause. Several agreements were signed. MBS stressed that the historical relationship between the Arab countries and China is based on mutual respect, friendship, and cooperation in many fields reiterating that “Our countries attach utmost importance to supporting the development process to develop their economies and the well-being of their peoples”. He lauded the role of China in putting forward several valuable initiatives, notably the Friends of Global Development Initiative, which matches many aspects of Saudi Arabia’s priorities towards supporting sustainable development and promoting food security.

On the other end of the spectrum, Israel witnessed the onset of an ultra-rightist government led by PM Benjamin Netanyahu which created deep concern in the region as well as in the US. Biden Administration said that they will hold PM Netanyahu personally responsible for the acts of his far right cabinet members including Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, who have called for leveling the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and denying citizenship to non-Jews. In any case most observers feel that situation between Israel and Palestine might worsen.

Tunisia was said to be bright spot of the Arab Spring but in recent times the democracy dividend appears to have been decimated by the subsequent governments. President Kais Saied since 2021 is being accused of further undermining it. The December Parliamentary elections witnessed the citizens’ apathy and the lowest voter turnout.

As Qatar finally hosted the FIFA 2022 successfully, the controversies not only regarding the inhumane treatment of labourers continued in the western media but the influence peddling accusations by Qatar also surfaced. Members of the European Parliament voted to suspend access to the hemicycle’s premises to Qatari representatives as it was suspected of having offered “large sums of money” and “substantial gifts” to MEPs and assistants in a bid to influence European decision-making. Greek MEP Eva Kaili, together with three other suspects, has been charged with participation in a criminal organisation, corruption and money laundering.

Qatar and Germany signed a 15 year LNG deal following similar deal with China.

Saudi Arabia and UK signed a defence cooperation plan.

An estimated 10-20,000 registered Israelis bought tickets for the World Cup in Qatar, the Jerusalem Post reported, but only 3,500 registered as Israelis. However, it was not easy for Israel to find any private airline to initiate direct flights between Israel and Qatar, according to National Public Diplomacy Directorate head at Israeli Foreign Minister, Lior Haiat.

Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, flew to the UAE to meet with President, Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Herzog reassured Bin Zayed that “the Abraham Accords are a national consensus in Israel.”Herzog, told Bin Zayed: “Now, we have to reach cruising altitude. That is, to upgrade ties between us even more, to strengthen them and to bring more nations into the Abraham Accords.”

President Herzog also visited Bahrain, where he addressed the Bahrainis, saying: “You are at the forefront of making history in the region, where Jews and Muslims can dwell together, the sons of Abraham, and move forward in peace.”

Following Herzog’s visit to the two Gulf States, and to consolidate economic ties, the Israeli delegation met with Moroccan officials in Rabat and signed a gas and oil exploration deal. Israeli New Med Energy said that it had signed agreements with Adarco Energy Limited and Morocco’s National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines.

Iran condemned the recent sanctions imposed by the EU against 20 individuals and one entity linked to the violent crackdown on demonstrations over the death of young Mahsa Amini as the protests and even executions leading to more protests have continued as tenor of their demands switched more against the regime and its removal. Meanwhile, United States claimed that the relationship between Russia and Iran has become a complete defence partnership. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia and Iran are giving each other an unprecedented level of military support. Kirby said a defence partnership between Iran and Russia where both will jointly produce drones will harm Ukraine and disturb peace in West Asia.

UAE and Saudi Arabia led mediation efforts saw the release of US basketball star Brittney Griner in a prisoner exchange between Russia and the US. In a joint statement, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, announced the success of the mediation led by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown for the release and exchange of two prisoners between the United States of America and the Russian Federation. It also highlighted the important role played by the leaderships of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in promoting dialogue between all parties.

The second edition of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership supported by France was held on December 20 in Amman, Jordan. At the summit, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and several more Arab nations were present apart from representatives from the European Union, United Nations, Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council, and Organization of Islamic Cooperation. President Macron also paid the bilateral visit to deliberate with King Abdullah II of Jordan preceding the conference. Amman invested a great deal of political capital in promoting Kadhimi, and a number of multilateral forums were established during his tenure, from the Baghdad Conference to the kingdom’s ongoing high-level meetings with Iraq and Egypt. This conference indicated the continuation of relations and their importance under new Iraqi PM Sudani between Jordan and Iraq.

Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar visited UAE to attend the 5th Indo-Ocean conference and to discuss and bolster bilateral cooperation. He called on the President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, who has also been invited by India for the G20 Summit as the special invitee. UAE Minister Noura Bint Mohammed said, speaking on India’s Presidency and tenure at the UNSC said “Congratulate you and the Indian mission at very successful 8th term on the Security Council. Your voice at this chamber is necessary and UAE reiterates its endorsement of India’s bid for permanent membership of the reformed UNSC.”

More Details…
Xi Jinping’s visit to Saudi Arabia

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Saudi Arabia between 6 and 8 December. Saudi Arabia is keen to expand its global alliances beyond its strategic partnership with the US. Xi Jinping’s last visit to Saudi Arabia was in 2016. Both states signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement and 20 bilateral deals worth US$ 29.26 billion. China and Saudi Arabia also signed 34 investment agreements in sectors such as green hydrogen, IT, transport and construction. Riyadh signed deal involving tech giant, Huawei Technologies to develop cloud computing, data centers and high tech complexes in Saudi cities. Jinping also attended the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit in Riyadh. The US warned that China’s attempt to expand its global influence is not conducive to the international order. The US security officials cautioned that equipment from Huawei could be used to interfere with fifth generation (5G) wireless networks and collect sensitive information.

New Government in Israel

In Israel’s latest election in November, the right-wing parties i.e. Likud with 32 seats; Religious Zionist party with 14 seats; Shas with 11 seats; United Torah Judaism with 7 seats secured a majority of 64 seats in the 120 seat Knesset. The new grouping has been called as the most right-wing government in Israel’s history that could further worsen the status of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. The Israeli Prime Minister has called the settlement expansion in occupied West Bank as the top priority of his government. Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet officially took oath of office on 29 December after Knesset passed a vote of confidence in the new government. Among the 120 members, 63 voted in favour of the government and 54 voted against. US President Joe Biden mentioned that his government is looking forward to working with Netanyahu calling him “friend for decades”. The US President talked about jointly addressing challenges in the region including threat from Iran. Russian President Vladimir Putin also welcomed Netanyahu’s return to power and called for strengthening cooperation in all areas and ensuring peace and security in the region.

IS attack in Iraq, Syria and Egypt

The Islamic State (IS) on 18 December carried out bomb blast in Kirkuk killing nine federal police officers. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has ordered a clamp down to dismantle IS hideouts and suggested the security forces to maintain vigilance. In Syria’s Raqqa, IS on 26 December killed six Kurdish fighters in a targeted attack on security and military buildings. Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) subsequently launched offensive dubbed as Operation al-Jazeera Thunderbolt. On 30 December attacked Al-Taim oil field in Syria’s Deir Zor province. IS in December carried out 14 attacks in Deir Az Zor area, Hasakah and the al-Hol camp killing 55 people.

On 31 December, the terrorist group attacked a police checkpoint in the Egyptian city of Ismailia killing at least four people and injuring 12 others. The IS fighters after setbacks in Syria and Iraq have re-grouped in the security scarce Sinai Peninsula. Egyptian forces have been fighting against IS in the northern part of Sinai Peninsula. Earlier in 2018, Egyptian security forces launched campaign to dismantle IS hideouts in Sinai, parts of Nile Delta and border region close to Libya killing around 1000 terrorists. In May 2022, IS had killed 11 Egyptian soldiers in Sinai region.

Italian Prime Minister’s visit to Iraq

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during her first bilateral trip outside Europe visited Iraq and met with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and President Abdul Latif Rashid. Italy is pushing for close economic and energy ties with the oil-rich Arab state. The Italian Prime Minister identified economic cooperation with Iraq in agriculture, water and health. Moreover, security and cultural cooperation are crucial drivers in the growing bilateral relationship. Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Sudani invited Italian firms specialized in infrastructure and gas exploration to help in the state’s rebuilding process. Iraq is the second largest crude oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) producing more than 3.3 million barrels per day.

Low Turnout in Tunisia Election

Tunisian parliamentary election held on 17 December witnessed a low 11.2 percent turnout. The low turnout reflects the anguish by Tunisians against President Kais Saied’s efforts to consolidate power and diluting the progress in democratization in the post 2011 Arab Spring period. Saied dissolved the government in July 2021 and suspended the parliament. The President has stripped the powers of the parliament. The latest election was boycotted by all major political parties. Earlier on 10 December, hundreds of Tunisians organized protest with banners and chants saying “Saied get out”. It indicates frustration with Saied’s power grab. The protestors demanded a return to democracy.

Protest in Jordan

Public demonstrations have erupted in Jordan in December to criticize the high fuel prices that occurred due to limits on subsidies imposed by the IMF. The state is facing enormous debt and the unemployment level has reached at 23 percent. The government has taken measures such as cap on fuel prices, however inflation has continued. In Maan, one police official was killed during violent protest on 15 December. On 19 December, three more police officers were killed during a raid to arrest the suspected killers of the police officer killed on 15 December. The government has promised to take tough steps and deploy more anti-riot police to prevent violent protests.

Sanctions against Iran

The US and Canada on 9 December announced new round of sanctions against Iranian officials accused of human rights violations during the ongoing protest in Iran. The US has claimed that that the three officials have carried out illegal detentions and violence against protestors. The US also drafted a resolution to remove Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women for applying systematic violations of women’s rights. The 54 member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted the resolution passed by 29 for and 8 against votes. 16 states abstained from voting. Iran condemned the move that could create an “unwelcome precedent”. The ministers of the European Union of Foreign Affairs imposed new sanctions on 20 individuals including Iranian clerics, senior officials and state media executives and one entity i.e. Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting due to their role in suppressing protestors as well as for supplying drones to Russia

Iran in a tit for tat response imposed sanctions on 23 individuals and nine entities in the European Union (EU) and the UK. The sanctions include media institutions, military base and current and former politicians. Tehran blacklisted Radio Farda and French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo; two German firms i.e. Water Engineering Trading GmbH and Gidlemeister Projekta GmbH. Iran also sanctioned Tony Blair Institute of Global Change, British Institute of Human Rights Chair, Geoffrey Bindman and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) co-founder, Bernard Kouchner.

On 20 December, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held meeting with European Union’s Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell in Amman on the sidelines of the second meeting of the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership hosted by Jordanian King Abdullah. The meeting was aimed at identifying measures to restore the 2015 nuclear deal. The EU foreign policy chief emphasized on curbing military support to Russia and stopping internal repression in Iran.

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – January 05, 2023

Islamic Emirate Rejects US Official’s Remarks on Its Commitments: Tolo News

The Islamic Emirate rejected the remarks by US State Department spokesman Ned Price and said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to all its promises.The deputy spokesman of the Islamic Emirate, Bilal Karimi, said there is no evidence to show that Afghan soil will be used against any other count“All territory of the country is controlled by the Islamic Emirate and there is no evidence to show that there is any action from our country towards other countries and their activities,” Karimi said. Click here to read…

TTP Threatens Top Pakistani Leadership Weeks after Ending Ceasefire: The Khaama Press

Pakistani Taliban warned the country’s main ruling parties of “concrete action” for “declaring war” against it, according to sources, months after the group ended ceasefire. A statement released by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), commonly known as the Pakistani Taliban, on Wednesday explicitly named Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Sharif is the president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) which along with Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) are the main coalition partners in the government. Click here to read…

High Commissioner Pranay Verma calls on Bangladesh I&B Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud – NewsOnAIR

Talking to the media after the meeting, High Commissioner Pranay Verma said that they discussed a wide range of issues including those related to the Information and Broadcasting sector. He said that Information and Broadcasting Ministries of both sides play a very important role through the exchange of media including film and television. Click here to read…

Bangladesh: Hindu activist Rakesh Roy sentenced to 7 years in jail over ‘blasphemy’ case, Roy says he was framed – OpIndia

Rakesh Roy, a Bangladeshi Hindu and the organising secretary of Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote, was sentenced to a rigorous seven-year prison term by Sylhet Cyber Tribunal judge Abu Kashem. In addition to serving a prison sentence, a fine of Taka 1 Lakh has also been imposed on him. Click here to read…

Bangladesh reiterates call for Rohingya repatriation – New Age

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday said the next election would be held as per country’s constitution and there was no problem if foreign observers came to monitor elections. ‘The next election will be held as per the constitution,’ prime minister’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim quoted her as saying while briefing reporters after four MPs of the British All-Party Parliamentary Group called on her at Prime Minister’s Office. Click here to read…

NBR allows imports from Bhutan through Akhaura land port – The Business Standard

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has released a new list of importable products which allows the import of all products from Bhutan (except potatoes and yarn) through Akhaura land port in Brahmanbaria. A few new products have been added to the list published on Wednesday. The newly added products include marble chips, sesame, fly ash and a few other things. Click here to read…

India-Bhutan relationship: A testimony of friendship and camaraderie – The Print

The relationship between India and Bhutan is based on the pillars of trust, goodwill and mutual understanding. The two neighbours have a close civilisational, cultural and economic relationship that dates back centuries. Bhutan considers India as gyagar, meaning the holy land, as Buddhism originated in India, which is the religion followed by the majority of BhutaneseClick here to read…

Research conducted on connecting India and Maldives to a single grid – Avas

India’s Power Ministry said in its annual summary published on December 27 that a team from India had visited the Maldives to conduct research under the ‘One World, One Sun, One Grid’ initiative to interconnect India’s power grid with other countries’ power grids. The team researched ways to link India and the Maldives in one grid via the islands of Lakshadweep. Click here to read…

Maldives welcomes 1.67 million tourists in 2022 – Raajje

Maldives Immigration has disclosed that the Maldives welcomed 1.67 million tourist in 2022. According to the statistics publicized by Maldives Immigration, 184،051 tourists were welcomed to the Maldives in December 2022. Looking at the monthly statistics publicized by the Ministry of Tourism, 131,764 tourists were welcomed during January, 149,008 tourist arrivals during February, 150,739 tourists welcomed during March and 145,280 tourists welcomed during April. 125,522 tourists were welcomed during May followed by 110,889 tourists in June and 133,561 tourists welcomed during July. In August, Maldives welcomed 131,862 tourists, followed by 111,986 in September. Click here to read…

Myanmar allocates 170 billion kyat for small and medium enterprises – Mizzima

Military junta’s Deputy Union Minister of Planning and Finance Maung Maung Win said that his government granted allocation of 170 billion kyat for establishing a MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) Development Fund from its supplementary budget for 2022-23 financial year. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s Military Junta Takes Step Toward Controversial Election – The Diplomat

Speaking during a ceremony in Naypyidaw yesterday marking the 75th anniversary of Myanmar’s independence from Great Britain, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing urged the Myanmar people and the wider world to support the election. He described it as an important step toward what the military establishment refers to as “the genuine, discipline-flourishing multiparty democratic system.” Click here to read…

Myanmar junta marks 75th year of independence with show of force in Naypyitaw – Mizzima

Myanmar troops and weaponry paraded through the military-built capital Naypyidaw to mark the country’s Independence Day Wednesday, days after the junta jailed democracy figurehead Aung San Suu Kyi for 33 years. Swathes of the Southeast Asian country have been engulfed by fighting between junta troops and anti-coup rebels since the military seized power almost two years ago. The junta, which recently wrapped up a series of closed-court trials of Aung San Suu Kyi, says it is preparing for fresh elections later this year that the United States has said would be a “sham.” Click here to read…

Dahal meets Nepal seeking support for vote of confidence – The Kathmandu Post

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal held a meeting with CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal on Wednesday. During the meeting the prime minister sought the support of the Unified Socialist for the upcoming vote of confidence. The party has 10 members in the 275-member House of Representatives. Earlier, the Unified Socialist, which had decided to unify the party with Dahal’s CPN (Maoist Centre) after the elections, had remained undecided on whether to join the Dahal-led ruling coalition. But Dahal had been insisting that the party come on board. Click here to read…

Nepal villagers again pelt stones on Indian side of Kali river in Uttarakhand – Hindustan Times

Villagers from Nepal have again pelted stones on the Indian side at the Indo-Nepal border in the Dharchula area of Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh district, officials said on Wednesday. The incident occurred when labourers on the Indian side were building an embankment on the Indian side of Kali river, which acts as the border between Nepal and India, on Tuesday evening. Click here to read…

Nepal to receive 1.5 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine – The Himalayan

Nepal is all set to receive 1.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines (for booster dose) from the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) next month. According to the government, the GAVI has confirmed dispense of such quantity of vaccine to Nepal on February 2. The vaccine will be arriving in the Himalayan Nation in the first week of February. Click here to read…

Sources: China-Nepal to meet on belt and road initiative– Wion News

China is keenly looking at increasing its stakes in South Asia and now Nepal is on its radar. Sources say a high-level Chinese delegation will be visiting Kathmandu next week, and the focus of their visit will be the belt and road initiative. Click here to read…

Pakistan banks on Saudi Arabia to avoid default: The Express Tribune

At a joint press conference with the government’s economic team, Dar showed his commitment to the IMF programme but at the same time stressed that he would not take any steps that would put a burden on the people. At the presser, Dar did not say categorically that the National Security Committee (NSC) clearly backed the IMF programme plan. Click here to read…

PTI’s white paper paints ‘bleak’ economic picture: The Express Tribune

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has painted a bleak picture of the economy as it released a white paper on the economic situation of the country, blaming the PML-N led coalition government of pushing the economy into a tailspin.The white paper, which was unveiled on Tuesday at a ceremony in Lahore, said inflation had increased by 45 per cent during the last eight months under the coalition government.The Consumer Price Index (CPI), the inflation monitor, rose by 24.5% in December compared to the same period of last year, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) reported on Monday. Click here to read…

PMLN MPAs told to be in Lahore for assembly session: The News

These directions were passed to the party MPAs in a meeting held under the chair of Federal Interior Minister and party’s Punjab president Rana Sanaullah Khan here on Wednesday.The meeting discussed in detail the possibility that the CM of Punjab may try to take a vote of confidence during the assembly session called on January 9, 2023. The meeting also discussed the present numbers game. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka crisis: Parents forced to pick which child can go to school – BBC

Six months ago, Sri Lanka was in the eye of the storm for its worst economic crisis since independence. While calm has largely returned to the island nation, the full impact of mass unemployment and dramatic price rises is now visible among many families. Today Malki’s first day back at school and she wants to be spotless. But her siblings must stay at home – her family can only afford to send her. Click here to read…

UN assures crisis-hit Sri Lanka with financial, technical support – Siasat

UN Assistant Secretary-General and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Kanni Wignaraja has assured Sri Lanka with UN’s financial and technical support as the South Asian island country attempted to recover from an economic crisis. Click here to read…

Tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka on rise despite economic crisis – THBL

Sri Lanka received over 7,00,000 tourists in 2022 despite the ongoing economic and political situation in the island nation which is recovering from the worst economic crisis in decades. This marks a significant increase from the pandemic hit in 2021. In 2021, the tourist arrivals were under 195,000, according to Sri Lanka’s Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA). Click here to read…

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – December 27, 2022

Deputy Minister Reiterates Commitment to Fight Drugs: Tolo News

The deputy minister of counter-narcotics, Abdulhaq Akundzada, said the commitment to fight drugs and said alcoholic beverages, as well as a number of illicit drugs, are brought to Afghanistan from Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia. Akhundzada asked the countries to prevent the trafficking of drugs to Afghanistan. “If the narcotics are being trafficked to Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian countries or anywhere else, we will prevent it. We have arrested many of them. Click here to read…

Taliban (IEA) Bans Two Female Training Centers in Kabul & Hera: The Khaama Press

Authorities of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan closed two educational centers in Kabul and Herat accommodating more than 1200 female students.Roya Mahboob, the Founder of the Afghan Girls Robotic Team tweeted on Monday that the Taliban authorities forcibly shut the education centers in Herat and Kabul. More than a thousand female students were taking pieces training in business, Robotics, coding, and Information Communications Technology. Click here to read…

Senior ministers sound alarm over foreign interference – Dhaka Tribune

Momen said that other countries do not need to give prescriptions to Bangladesh on democracy and human rights, as both are deeply rooted in Bangladesh’s DNA. He said the current government is committed to holding free, fair, transparent, and inclusive elections under the independent Election Commission. The foreign minister also said Bangladesh welcomes constructive suggestions from foreign friends. Click here to read…

Mongla port upgrade: Tk 6,014 crore deal inked with Indian firm – Daily Star

The Mongla Port Authority (MPA) and Egis India today signed the related agreement for the “Upgradation of Mongla port” project, at the Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden in the capital. Rear Admiral Mohammad Musa, chairman of the MPA, and Laurent Germain, chief executive officer of Egis India, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective parties.
Of the estimated Tk 6,014 crore project, the government will finance Tk 1,555 crore from its own coffer while India will provide Tk 4,459 crore as assistance under its third line of credit. The project is scheduled to be complete by July 30, 2024. Click here to read…

Bangladesh, ADB ink deals worth $627mn for development, climate projects – Business Standard

The ADB said it will provide about $278 million in loan for the Third Public-Private Infrastructure Development Facility– Tranche 2, and $100 million for the Greater Dhaka Sustainable Urban Transport Project (BRT-Gazipur). Meanwhile, the bank will also give about $246 million in loan for the Coastal Towns Climate Resilience Project and a grant of $4 million for the Coastal Towns Climate Resilience ProjectClick here to read…

Hydropower revenue to drop by 4 percent – Kuensel online

The overall hydropower generation of Druk Green Power Corporation’s (DGPC) power plants for the year was forecast to be around 6,914 Gigawatt hours (GWh) with expected revenue of Nu 11.51 billion (B). This, according to the DGPC, would be a decrease of about 4 percent or Nu 497.54 million (M) from last year. In 2021, the country generated Nu 12B from electricity. As of November this year, the DGPC’s power plants generated 6,919.12GWh of electricity, less by 34.68GWh compared to the same month last year. The country generated 6,953.8GWh of electricity as of the same month last year. Click here to read…

Cambodia eyes rice sales to Maldives – Phnompenh Post

Cambodia plans to begin the formal export of milled rice to the archipelago nation of Maldives, a month after its Phka Rumduol jasmine variety was crowned as the “World’s Best Rice” for a fifth time, as part of a campaign to raise the profile of the local grain on the regional and international stages. At a ceremony marking the beginning of work to revamp the 95.27km National Road 41 on the morning of December 26, Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that he would visit the Maldives next month to discuss milled-rice sales as well as stepping up tourism ties. Click here to read…

Myanmar court to deliver final verdicts this week in Suu Kyi trials – Reuters

A court in military-ruled Myanmar will deliver its final verdicts in cases against deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday, said a source familiar her trials, wrapping up marathon proceedings that have been condemned in the West as a sham. Suu Kyi, 77, was arrested when the military seized power on Feb. 1 last year in a coup that ended a decade of tentative democracy and plunged the country into chaos. Click here to read…

Myanmar Junta’s Worst Massacres of 2022 – The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s regime has stepped up atrocities during 2022, including arbitrary killings and the torturing of civilians, burning people alive and using civilians as human shields. Arson attacks, the looting of homes, shelling and airstrikes on residential areas and sexual violence have also increased this year. Click here to read…

Manipur to beef up security along Myanmar border: CM Biren Singh – Dajji World

The Manipur government would strengthen the security in the state’s border areas along with Myanmar by setting up more outposts to curb illegal peddling of drugs, exotic wildlife, various contraband besides cross-border crimes, Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said on Monday. Click here to read…

Prime minister settled, all eyes on President and Speaker race – The Kathmandu Post

With the CPN (Maoist Centre) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal becoming prime minister with the backing of the second largest party, the CPN-UML, the latter is set to get two other major positions—the President and the Speaker. After Dahal decided to join the UML camp following Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba’s refusal to allow him to lead the government for the first half of the next five-year term, the new coalition of seven parties will now distribute among themselves 35 constitutional positions including the President, Vice-President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly chair and vice-chair, chief ministers, speakers, deputy speakers and provincial chiefs of seven provinces. Click here to read…

Explained: How Prachanda Outsmarted Sher Bahadur Deuba To Be Nepal’s PM, What It Means For India? – Outlook

The surprise development of Prachanda becoming the Nepal’s Prime Minister may not bode well for India-Nepal ties as he and Oli have had some run-ins with New Delhi previously over territorial issues. Prachanda is seen as pro-China. He has in the past said a new understanding with India needed to be developed on the basis of a “changed scenario” in Nepal and after addressing all outstanding issues, like revision of the 1950 Friendship Treaty and resolving Kalapani and Susta border disputes. Click here to read…

A parlous path ahead for Rabi Lamichhane – The Kathmandu Post

Rastriya Swatantra Party president Rabi Lamichhane took the oath of office and secrecy as Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister at the Sheetal Niwas on Monday—a remarkable turn of events for a person who was running a TV show until six months ago. The Rastriya Swatantra Party—which Lamichhane formed after resigning from his TV job in June just five months prior to the November 20 elections—emerged as the fourth-largest force in the House of Representatives (HoR) in its first-ever elections. The party won 20 federal seats. Its head has now bagged a coveted ministry, becoming one of the country’s most influential leaders. Click here to read…

Finance minister inherits a troubled economy again – The Kathmandu Post

Amid rumours that Bishnu Poudel is becoming the new finance minister, the share market began to make upward moves from Monday morning. As the market closed, the Nepal Stock Exchange (Nepse) index rose by 56.88 points, appearing to welcome Poudel’s appointment as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the new Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government. Click here to read…

Shehbaz renews pledge to crush terrorism menace: Dawn

As the country reels from multiple incidents of terrorism, claimed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) over the past few days, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday vowed to eradicate militants across the country amid criticism by his predecessor Imran Khan, who grilled the government over a steep rise in militancy during its eight-month stint.
Addressing a gathering in Dera Ismail Khan, PM Shehbaz said that with the help of provincial governments and security forces, the government will eliminate terrorism in all its forms. Click here to read…

Rs2.2 trillion spent on interest and defence: The Express Tribune

Sources in the Ministry of Finance told The ExpressTribune that during July-November period of the current fiscal year, there was an alarming increase of 83% in the interest cost on the Rs50 trillion federal government debt stock. The Ministry of Finance paid nearly Rs1.7 trillion in the interest cost, up by Rs763 billion or 83%, according to the sources. Similarly, excluding military pensions and expenses on the armed forces development programme, Rs517 billion was spent on defence in five months. It was Rs112 billion or nearly 28% more than the previous fiscal year, according to the sources. Click here to read…

Security advisory: Saudi Arabia, Australia ask citizens in Pakistan to limit movement: The News

In the wake of recent terror incidents in the country, the Saudi embassy has issued a security alert for its citizens in Pakistan, advising them to remain careful and limit their movement. Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka PM urges new envoys to promote foreign investment, exports, tourism – Colombo Page

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena meeting with a group of new envoys on Monday noted that the economic diplomacy rather than traditional diplomacy has gained priority in the world and emphasized the importance of innovative diplomacy that promotes investment attraction, exports and tourism. Newly appointed Ambassadors and High Commissioners to 16 countries participated in a special discussion held with the Prime Minister at Temple Trees. Click here to read…

We face the repercussion of handing over the country to politicians: Prelate – Daily Mirror

What we are experiencing now is the consequence of handing over everything in the country to politicians, the Chairman of the National Movement for the Protection of the Nation Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thera said. “We have never heard of an era where the people of our country are suffering as much as they do these days,” he lamented. “Now I am hearing several opinions being discussed about the issues in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country. “The Government should not do that. It will be creating more national problems at a time when people are worried over their next meals,” he said. Click here to read…

Distribution of dry rations at Abhayagiriya – Daily Mirror

Arrangements have been made to distribute 50,000 parcels of dry rations among needy families by the China Buddhist Association and Fa-Xien Charity Trust with the participation of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and Acting Chinese Ambassador Hu Wei in the presence of Atamasthanadhipathi Ven Pallegama Hemaratana, Chief Incumbent Abhayagiriya Temple Ven Dr Kallanchiye Ratanasiri on Tuesday (27) at 1.30 pm at the Abhayagiriya premises in Anuradhapura. The event is organized by the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the China Sri Lanka Buddhist Friendship Association. Click here to read…

China Daily Scan, December 12, 2022

He Wei elected Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party chairman: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

He Wei was elected as chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party (CPWDP) on Thursday. The decision was announced after the CPWDP, a non-communist political party with about 192,000 members, concluded its 17th National Congress. Click here to read…

Xi says China to continue supporting Iraq’s reconstruction: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping said here on Friday that China will continue supporting Iraq’s economic reconstruction and help it restore industries, improve people’s livelihood and achieve sustainable development. Click here to read…

Full text of Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at China-GCC Summit: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech here Friday at the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit. The following is the full text of the speech:

Building on Past Achievements and Jointly Creating a Brighter Future of China-GCC RelationsClick here to read…

Full text of Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at China-Arab States Summit: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech here Friday at the first China-Arab States Summit. The following is the full text of the speech:

Carrying Forward the Spirit of China-Arab Friendship and Jointly Building a China-Arab Community with a Shared Future in the New EraClick here to read…

China to launch SSE 50 index options trading: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

China’s top securities regulator agreed that China Financial Futures Exchange could launch the options trading of the SSE 50 stock index from December 19, China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement Friday. Click here to read…

China to issue 750 bln yuan of special treasury bonds: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

China will issue 750 billion yuan (about 108 billion U.S. dollars) worth of three-year special treasury bonds to bolster its economy, the finance ministry said on Friday. The notes will be issued on Dec. 12, and will be targeted and issued to particular banks in the interbank bond market, the Ministry of Finance said. Click here to read…

Chinese mainland reports 2,171 new local confirmed COVID-19 cases: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

The Chinese mainland on Sunday reported 2,171 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said Monday. Altogether 6,455 local asymptomatic carriers were newly identified. Click here to read…

“Zero-carbon” heating, electricity project in Tibet readied: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

With the successful electrification of a 110-kV booster station in Tibet’s Ngari Prefecture, the local “zero-carbon” solar photovoltaic energy storage project has been readied to further enhance the supply capacity of clean energy in the autonomous region. Upon completion, the project is expected to provide an average of 357.95 million kWh of clean electricity to the power grid each year and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 254,000 tonnes. Click here to read…

China puts three AG600M large amphibious aircraft into flight test: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

China has put three AG600M aircraft, a full-configuration firefighting model belonging to the AG600 large amphibious aircraft family, into flight test missions, announced the developer Friday. The third AG600M firefighting aircraft prototype successfully completed its first flight test mission on Friday in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong Province, said the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country’s leading plane-maker. Click here to read…

CPPCC members discuss improving mechanism for evaluating scientific and tech achievements: China Daily
December 9, 2022

Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee, on Friday, discussed measures to improve the mechanism for evaluating scientific and technological achievements at a consultation session in Beijing. Click here to read…

Chinese defense minister delivers video speech at SCO, CIS defense ministers’ meeting: China Military
December 10, 2022

Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe attended and addressed the meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) defense ministers via video link upon invitation on December 9, 2022. Click here to read…

AI assistance to boost efficiency of judicial sector: China Daily
December 10, 2022

A competent artificial intelligence system to support the judicial sector is expected to be set up by 2025 to help improve legal services, China’s top court said. The goal was embedded in the Opinions on Regulating and Strengthening the Application of Artificial Intelligence in Judicial Fields, a 20-article guideline issued on Friday by the Supreme People’s Court. Click here to read…

Chinese netizens visit Beijing courts online: China Daily
December 10, 2022

A visit to Beijing courts was livestreamed on Saturday, as a part of the nationwide weeklong campaign to improve public knowledge of the country’s Constitution. The online visit was organized by the Supreme People’s Court, China’s top court, to celebrate the ninth national Constitution Day, which fell on Dec 4. Click here to read…

New Omicron variant inspires new control measures: China Daily
December 10, 2022

With a significantly lower pathogenicity of the current Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, the focus of the country’s COVID-19 control have shifted to the intervention of potential severe cases. Zhong Nanshan, a prominent respiratory expert, commented on the country’s COVID-19 control measures, which have been optimized, as he met the media on Friday. Click here to read…

China, Saudi Arabia achieve steady progress in cultural communication: People’s Daily
December 10, 2022

The Murabba’ Palace, also known as the Qasr al Murabba, which means “the square” in Arabic, is a two-story structure in the southwest corner of the yard of the national museum in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. It is a witness to the China-Saudi Arabia friendship. Click here to read…

To build a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era: People’s Daily
December 10, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Dec. 8, and will attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit on Dec. 9 in Riyadh upon invitation. Xi and leaders from Arab states are expected to jointly lay out the blueprint for future cooperation, usher in a bright future of China-Arab strategic partnership, chart the course for building a China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era, and inject confidence and impetus in promoting world peace and development. Click here to read…

Newsmaker: China’s Wang Huning, a backstage ideologue and political survivor: Reuters
December 10, 2022

When ex-Chinese leader Hu Jintao was escorted from the stage in October at the Communist Party Congress, a powerful behind-the-scenes figure took a brief turn in the spotlight as China-watchers pored over video to try to figure out what happened. Wang Huning, one of just two top officials reappointed to join President Xi Jinping on the elite seven-man Politburo Standing Committee, has carved an unusual career path as the party’s top theoretician. Click here to read…

China regulators, state banks split staff as fears mount about new COVID outbreaks: Reuters
December 10, 2022

Chinese regulators and state-owned banks are taking steps to split staff at their workplaces in Beijing, sources told Reuters, as businesses brace for a possible spike in COVID cases after China relaxed virus restrictions in a major policy shift. Click here to read…

US watching China’s space activities: Kyodo
December 10, 2022

The US is closely monitoring Chinese activities that potentially threaten US assets in space as debris rapidly accumulates in low Earth orbit, the head of US Space Force said yesterday.
US Space Command Commander James Dickinson cheered the overwhelming passage in the UN of a resolution that countries not conduct direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) tests that create vast fields of space debris, which endanger satellites and space stations. Click here to read…

China opposes inclusion of Taiwan-related content in U.S. bill: Xinhuanet
December 10, 2022

A Chinese government spokesperson on Friday voiced firm opposition to the inclusion of Taiwan-related content in a U.S. defense bill. Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks when asked to comment on an agreement reached by the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives to include Taiwan-related content in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023. Click here to read…

Xi proposes eight major initiatives on China-Arab practical cooperation: Xinhuanet
December 10, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday proposed eight major initiatives on China-Arab practical cooperation at the first China-Arab States Summit held here at the King Abdul Aziz International Conference Center. Click here to read…

Zheng Jianbang elected chairman of Chinese KMT Revolutionary Committee: Xinhuanet
December 11, 2022

Zheng Jianbang was elected as chairman of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang (RCCK) on Saturday. The decision was announced after the RCCK, a non-communist political party with about 158,000 members, concluded its 14th national congress in Beijing. Click here to read…

Chinese rural areas urged to upgrade ICUs and open fever clinics by December amid Omicron waves: Global Times
December 11, 2022

China’s top COVID epidemic control group released a working announcement to boost the medical supplies in rural areas by demanding qualified clinics in counties and villages to open fever clinics and operate those clinics 24 hours a day by the end of December as part of the country’s efforts in optimizing tiered medical services in preparation for the waves of infection. Click here to read…

China-Arab ties open a new chapter; influence profound: Global Times
December 11, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday concluded his Saudi Arabia trip, his first to the Middle East region after the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which was also an unprecedented diplomatic event with the Arab world. The trip has not only yielded fruitful results in economic and trade sense, but also demonstrated that in addition to continuing to play the role of a contributor to regional development, China will also increasingly contribute to peace in the strategically important Middle East, experts noted. Click here to read…

Provinces roll up sleeves to reinvigorate economy: Global Times

December 11, 2022

As China ramps up implementation of an optimized approach to deal with the coronavirus, local governments are moving resolutely to reinvigorate economic activities with the facilitation of flows of people and goods, among wide-ranging announcements that intend to put the world’s second-largest economy back on track. Click here to read…

Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed over five years on fraud charge: Reuters
December 11, 2022

Pro-democracy Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai was sentenced on Saturday to five years and nine months in prison for fraud, convicted of violating a lease contract for the headquarters of a liberal newspaper he used to run. Lai, 75, was found guilty of two counts of fraud for covering up the operations of a private company, Dico Consultants Ltd, at the headquarters of the now shuttered Apple Daily newspaper, in what was ruled a breach of its land lease. Click here to read…

Su Hui elected chairperson of Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League: Xinhuanet
December 12, 2022

Su Hui was elected chairperson of the Central Committee of the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (TDSL) on Saturday. The decision was announced after the TDSL, a non-communist political party with about 3,400 members, concluded its 11th national congress in Beijing. Click here to read…

Senior CPC official addresses ACFIC national congress: Xinhuanet
December 12, 2022

Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Li Qiang on Sunday attended the opening session of the 13th national congress of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC), and delivered a congratulatory speech on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. Click here to read…

China to remove digital itinerary card service starting Tuesday: China Daily
December 12, 2022

China to remove digital itinerary card service starting Tuesday, Xinhua News Agency reported. Click here to read…

Xi stresses systematic protection of intangible cultural heritage: Global Times
December 12, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping has underlined making solid headway in the systematic protection of intangible cultural heritage and better promoting Chinese culture around the world. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks recently in an important instruction on the protection of intangible cultural heritage. Click here to read…

China: Daily Scan, December 09, 2022

Xi Jinping chairs meeting of Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee: Xinhuanet
December 8, 2022

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting on December 6 to analyze economic work in 2023, hear a briefing on the work of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC and the National Commission of Supervision, and make arrangements for improving Party conduct, building a clean and honest government, and combating corruption in 2023. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting.

Click here to read…

New Party chief appointed for Tianjin: Xinhuanet
December 8, 2022

Chen Min’er has been appointed secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Tianjin Municipal Committee, a post he will hold concurrently, according to a recent decision of the CPC Central Committee. Li Hongzhong will no longer concurrently hold the post, read the decision made public on Thursday.

Click here to read…

Xi Jinping chairs symposium to solicit opinions and suggestion on economic work: Xinhuanet
December 8, 2022

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a symposium on December 2 to solicit opinions and suggestions from the central committees of other political parties, heads of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and representatives of personages without party affiliation on this year’s economic situation and next year’s economic work.

Click here to read…

China, Egypt pledge to deepen Belt and Road cooperation: Xinhuanet
December 8, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping met his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, here on Thursday, with both sides pledging to deepen Belt and Road cooperation. Noting that China and Egypt enjoy shared visions and interests, Xi said the two sides should join hands to strive for a China-Egypt community with a shared future in the new era and push for new and greater development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries.

Click here to read…

China’s insurance sector reports adequate solvency: Xinhuanet
December 8, 2022

China’s insurance sector maintained steady operation and adequate solvency in the first three quarters of this year, the country’s banking and insurance regulator said. The average comprehensive solvency ratio of the 181 insurers reviewed at a regulatory meeting was 212 percent by the end of September, and their average core solvency ratio was 139.7 percent, said the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

Click here to read…

Chinese grab Russian car market share after Western rivals depart: Reuters
December 8, 2022

Chinese brands account for almost a third of Russia’s car market, data shared with Reuters shows, as the sector more than any other shows China’s growing importance to the economy following the exodus of Western companies. New sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (LVC) are down almost 61% year-on-year, as Western sanctions curb Russia’s access to some materials and falling demand and high prices further hobble the sector.

Click here to read…

Easing of “zero-COVID” policy triggers confusion, anxiety in China: Kyodo
December 8, 2022

A significant easing of China’s stringent “zero-COVID” policy announced Wednesday amid the continued spread of the coronavirus has triggered confusion and anxiety among the public, with cold medicines flying off the shelves and health authorities no longer tracing positive cases.

Click here to read…

Japan to describe China military moves as “challenge” to int’l order: Kyodo
December 8, 2022

Japan is considering describing Chinese military moves as posing a “challenge” to the international order, as well as to Japan and like-minded countries, in its National Security Strategy to be revised together with two other security-related documents next week, a government source said Wednesday.

Click here to read…

Former Guangdong police chief under investigation for corruption: South China Morning Post
December 8, 2022

Guangdong’s former police chief is the latest senior official to be placed under investigation for corruption, amid a far-reaching campaign targeting China’s security apparatus. Li Chunsheng – former deputy governor and director of the Public Security Department in the southern province – “turned himself in” to authorities, the Communist Party’s anti-graft watchdog said in a statement on Thursday. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the 61-year-old was “suspected of serious violations of discipline and law” – a euphemism for corruption.

Click here to read…

China vows to crack down on local authorities taking ‘excessive’ approach: South China Morning Post
December 8, 2022

The top decision-making body of China’s Communist Party has vowed to crack down on what it called excessive measures taken by local governments to implement national policies. It did not directly mention Covid-19 controls, but comes as Beijing has started easing restrictions and as the party’s discipline watchdogs go after authorities at the local level for taking the measures too far. Meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, the 24-member Politburo – led by President Xi Jinping – called for a continued tough stance on corruption, state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Click here to read…

Rocket scientist Yuan Jiajun named China’s Communist Party chief for mega city Chongqing: South China Morning Post
December 8, 2022

Chinese rocket scientist Yuan Jiajun, newly named to the Communist Party’s 24-member Politburo, has been appointed to take the helm of the southwestern mega city Chongqing as party secretary. The appointment was announced on Thursday by state news agency Xinhua, seven weeks after the 20th Party Congress, a landmark edition of the five-yearly conclave which saw President Xi Jinping secure a groundbreaking third term and reveal a top leadership stacked with loyalists.

Click here to read…

Chongqing, Tianjin and other places see new Party chiefs: China Daily
December 9, 2022

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has decided that Chen Min’er no longer concurrently serves as secretary, standing committee member and member of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, and that Yuan Jiajun concurrently serves as member, standing committee member and secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee, Xinhua News Agency reported on Thursday. Li Hongzhong no longer concurrently serves as secretary, standing committee member and member of the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee. Chen concurrently serves as member, standing committee member and secretary of the CPC Tianjin Municipal Committee.

Click here to read…

New solid-fuel carrier rocket launched: China Daily
December 9, 2022

Kuaizhou 11, the newest carrier rocket model developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, completed its first successful flight on Wednesday morning, lifting an experimental satellite into space, according to the company.

Click here to read…

China, Saudi Arabia deepen relations amid development synergy: Global Times
December 9, 2022

A grand welcoming ceremony, high-level bilateral meetings and wide-covering investment agreements are among proofs that China-Saudi Arabia relations have been lifted to a new high. On Thursday, President Xi Jinping and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud signed an agreement on the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries and also agreed to hold a meeting between the two heads of state by turns every two years.

Click here to read…

China’s new high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone makes first flight: Global Times
December 9, 2022

China recently carried out the maiden flight for a type of new high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone, which can help test and verify a number of new technologies including artificial intelligence, loyal wingman and drone swarm, the aircraft’s maker announced on Thursday.

Click here to read…

China Eastern takes delivery of the world’s first made-in-China C919 jet: Reuters
December 9, 2022

The world’s first C919, a Chinese-made narrowbody jet, was delivered to launch customer China Eastern Airlines in Shanghai on Friday and took off for a 15-minute flight to mark the historic moment. The plane, a rival to the Airbus (AIR.PA) A320neo and Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX single-aisle jet families, is expected to make its maiden commercial flight next spring, according to state-owned Xinhua News Agency.

Click here to read…

42 Hong Kong residents qualify as candidates for deputies to national legislature: People’s Daily
December 9, 2022

A total of 42 residents in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) were confirmed as qualified candidates for deputies to the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature, according to a presidium meeting of the Conference for Electing Deputies of the HKSAR to the 14th NPC on Thursday.

Click here to read…

New party chief appointed for Guizhou Province: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

Xu Lin has been appointed secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Guizhou Provincial Committee, according to a recent decision of the CPC Central Committee. Shen Yiqin will no longer hold the post, and will be assigned to another post, read the decision made public on Friday.

Click here to read…

China, IMF pledge to strengthen macro-policy coordination: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday met with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Huangshan City, Anhui Province, pledging to strengthen macro-policy coordination. Noting that China has been a participant in, upholder of and contributor to global economic governance, Li said China has kept a sound cooperative relationship with the IMF for many years.

Click here to read…

Belt and Road cooperation promotes building of China-Arab community with shared future: Qiushi
December 9, 2022

From the gleaming Lusail Stadium in Qatar, an 80,000-seat venue for the World Cup, to the Mohammed VI Bridge in Morocco, and the Great Mosque of Algiers, the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Arab countries has been in full swing since the initiative was proposed in 2013.

Click here to read…

Chinese mainland reports 3,588 new local confirmed COVID-19 cases: Xinhuanet
December 9, 2022

The Chinese mainland on Thursday reported 3,588 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said Friday. Altogether 13,004 local asymptomatic carriers were newly identified.

Click here to read…

keywords- COVID-19, IMF, Guizhou, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia

VIF Neighbourhood News Digest – December 08, 2022

Female Students in Grade 12 Take Final Exam to Graduate: Tolo News

On Wednesday, female students in the 12th grade took a final exam in Kabul, as well as in other provinces. Some of them were positive about the test, but they voiced concerns over the fate of younger female students above sixth grade in the country. “We learned at the start of this week that they would give an exam on Wednesday, and we are not as prepared compared to previous years,” said Rukhsar, another studentClick here to read…

Restoration of Great Mosque of Herat Begins: Tolo News

After seven decades, Herat’s information and culture department said that it has begun the restoration of the province’s Great Mosque, also known as the “Jami Masjid of Herat.”The restoration of all of the mosque’s ancient tiles is expected.Reportedly, natural disasters in recent years have damaged the majority of the tiles of Herat’s Great Mosque.”Seventy years ago, it wasn’t really that everything was repaired, only the places that collapsed were restored, but right now, all of them are under the restoration process,” said Zalmai Safa, the head of Herat’s department of information and culture’s historical monument preservation group. Click here to read…

First Public Execution Conducted in Western Afghanistan: The Khaama Press

The de facto government of Afghanistan publicly executed a man named Tajmir convicted of a murder at a crowded football stadium in South-Western Farah province earlier today, where a number of the group’s top ministers and leaders attended the execution. Enforcing the Sharia law has been the foremost priority of the rolling government, as the verdict was issued by the Taliban’s supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada last month. The punishment includes public executions, public amputations, and stoning. Click here to read…

Afghan Traders Face Critical Challenges in Exporting Pine Nuts: The Khaama Press

Afghan Traders in Khost Province are wrestling with critical challenges in exporting pine nuts abroad. Hundreds of tons of pine nuts are harvested annually, however, a lack of export and a proper marketing system to transfer products to the regional markets causes massive losses to Afghan traders. The traders called on the Afghan administration to enhance trade agreements with the neighboring counties, Pakistan in particular, to facilitate the movement of commercial goods and other necessary items in a timely manner. Otherwise, the products will get rotten before reaching any commercial markets. Click here to read…

PM Hasina: BNP, Jamaat cause misery for the people – Dhaka Tribune

Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday slammed the BNP and Jamaat for causing misery for the people, stressing that her government has been squarely focused on mitigating the woes of the public…She urged the people to vote for the boat symbol for the trend of development and democracy to continue in Bangladesh. Click here to read…

Next general election in first week of Jan 2024: PM – New Age

‘After 2023, in the first week of January 2024, the next national election would be held. In this election, I seek your (countrymen) vote for our electoral symbol boat,’ the prime minister said while addressing a grand public rally at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium in Cox’s Bazar, organised by the Cox’s Bazar district Awami League. Click here to read…


South Asian Foundation Bhutan to assist more youth in Bhutan – Kuensel Online

The 19th Governing Council Meeting of the South Asian Foundation (SAF) decided in Thimphu yesterday to make programmes vibrant in the region for youth. Dignitaries from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal attended the in-person meeting. Click here to read…

Smilegate supports literacy education in Bhutan – The Korea Herald

Smilegate Foundation, the charity arm of South Korean gaming giant Smilegate, said Wednesday it has opened two new community learning centers on Nov. 28, to support literacy education for women and children in Bhutan. According to the foundation, the centers, which were built together with UNESCO and Bhutan’s Education Ministry, seek to provide women and children in remote areas with access to education, with the hopes of increasing their overall quality of life. Click here to read…

50 years of tourism in the Maldives and, remarkably, it’s still the ‘ultimate island paradise’ early visitors found – SCMP

“Does it really exist?” asked Dirk Brink – a “well-known local money trader and inveterate traveller” – in the pages of the South China Morning Post in March 1976. “Is there really a country which belongs to the ‘Brotherhood of enemies’ (United Nations) which has all the qualifications of paradise?” Brink had, a headline teased, “finally found the ultimate island paradise for the jaded jet-setter looking for a place to lie down”. And he was going to tell readers all about it. Click here to read…

Maldives gov’t requests to waive Schengen Visa requirement – Avas

The Maldives has asked for ease in obtaining a visa for travel to all European Union (EU) countries — the Schengen Visa. Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid made the request to the Head of Taskforce for Electoral Campaign Bid Committee Expo 2030 Rome, Dr. Gaetano Castellini Curiel, at a meeting at the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. The meeting was held as part of the ongoing high-level engagements of Representative Curiel, who is currently undertaking a visit to the Maldives from 5 to December 7, 2022.
Click here to read…

WFP Says It Received $7Mln From EU To Tackle Food Insecurity In Myanmar – UrduPoint

The European Union has allocated around 6.5 million Euros ($6.8 million) for the support of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in its efforts to tackle the humanitarian food crisis in Myanmar, the WFP said on Wedesday. “More than 800,000 people in the southeast, northwest and border areas, as well as impoverished peri-urban Yangon, will be reached thanks to the continued EU humanitarian support. The funding was made through the EU’s Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations,” the statement read. Click here to read…

Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi Praises Young Anti-Junta Resistance Fighters – The Irrawaddy

In her first public comments about Myanmar’s ongoing ant-regime resistance movement since last year, the country’s ousted leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she was proud of young Burmese people and all those struggling to defend and fight for democracy. She shared the message via her Australian former economic adviser, Sean Turnell, who was released by the regime three weeks ago after spending 650 days in prison.Click here to read…

How long will the world drag its feet on Myanmar – UCA News

An internationally-respected Baptist leader is arrested and detained, a Cardinal’s home village is bombed and seven students are sentenced to death — yet still the corridors of power around the world echo with silence and inaction over the tragedy in Myanmar. On Monday, Reverend Dr. Hkalam Samson, the former president of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC), was stopped at Mandalay International Airport, on his way to Bangkok. Click here to read…

Investing in hydro-power projects – The Kathmandu Post

Nepal has started issuing hydro-power developers licences to mobilise domestic and foreign capital. In this line of thought, licences to so-called developers are being overwhelmingly issued. Politicians, bureaucrats to technocrats have bagged such licences to generate electricity from the ever-flowing rivers. But neither has it worked in the past, nor is there a hope to realise the anticipated output in the futureClick here to read…

Repercussions of remittance economy – The Kathmandu Post

Remittance has remained one of the largest contributors to the national economy for years, and will probably remain so for quite a while. The World Bank estimates that remittances accounted for 22 percent of the GDP this year. Informal inflows are considered to be at least 50 percent higher than official figures. The economic size of remittances is too high not to have a significant impact on the political economy of the country. Click here to read…

Officials from Nepal and India agree to course Mahakali to its original state – Khabarhub

The Nepal-India Border Coordination Meeting held at the NHPC in Dharchula on Wednesday agreed to let the Mahakali river flow in its original course. Earlier, there had been tension in the border area after India built a temporary dam to divert the flow of the Mahakali river towards Nepal. Wednesday’s meeting agreed to remove the temporary dam with wire mesh and let the river follow the natural courseClick here to read…

Nepal Elections: How Machiavellian Moves By Beijing’s Proxy In Nepal Backfired And Prompted Its Rivals To Close Ranks – Swarajya

Oli, reportedly egged on by Beijing which is desperate to install its proxy in power in Kathmandu, called up his bete noire Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the chairperson of the CPN(MC) on 24 November. Oli invited Dahal to join his alliance and form the government. The CPN(MC) then tried to leverage Oli’s offer and use it to extract more than its due from the NC. Click here to read…

Delay in finalising ‘dissolution’ plans bad for PTI’s cause: Dawn

As Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan reiterated his threat to dissolve the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, the delay in securing support for and implementing his plan seems to be working against him, as the situation on the ground is changing with each passing day. Click here to read…

Pakistan seeks emergency $3b Saudi cash injection: The Express Tribune

Pakistan on Wednesday requested Saudi Arabia to urgently provide $3 billion in cash after its foreign exchange reserves fell to a critically low level, as the new army chief was also expected to play a role in bagging the bailout during his upcoming maiden visit to the Kingdom. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar made the request during a meeting with Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, the Saudi ambassador, according to his ministry’s officials. Click here to read…

Pakistan sends oil import deal draft to UAE: The News

Pakistan has sent the draft of Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to the UAE for an official nod from authorities concerned in Abu Dhabi. Once it is approved, negotiation for a commercial agreement for the import of Mogas under GtG mode will start between officials of Pakistan State Oil (PSO) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). One of the top officials at the Energy Ministry confirmed the development to The News. “We have sent the IGA draft to the UAE for approval. Once it is signed, commercial talks would begin between the state entities of both the countries.”Click here to read…

Sri Lanka
Country receives entire stock of MOP fertilizer required for paddy cultivation – Daily News

Sri Lanka has received the entire amount of Muriate of Potash (MOP) fertilizer required for paddy cultivation for Maha season. This stock of fertilizer has been imported from Canada at a cost of USD 40 million. The total stock of fertilizer consisting of 41,876 metric tons was officially handed over to Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera by the Secretary of the Ministry of Irrigation and Mahaweli Development. D. C. Jayalal. The Ministry had taken steps to buy MOP fertilizer by spending the money provided to the Mahaweli Water Security Investment Programme, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank. MOP fertilizer is given to the farmers for paddy cultivation in our country after two seasons as it was not imported after chemical fertilizers were banned in 2021.

Sri Lanka’s children go hungry as food prices soar – BBC

The three-year-old is losing weight and complains of leg pains and weakness. The doctor’s diagnosis is clear – Nitisha is underfed and malnourished. But the treatment suggested is difficult to come by for her family – wholesome meals. Like many people in Sri Lanka, this family from a tea estate village in Hanthana, in the centre of the country, have seen their finances collapse. “We manage two meals a day and it’s the same thing – rice with potatoes or lentils. We can’t afford anything else,” says Harshini, Nitisha’s mother. For weeks, the family has not had milk or eggs, she added. Click here to read…

Annual Sri Pada Pilgrimage Season begins – Daily News

The annual Sri Pada Pilgrimage season 2022/23 began on Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day yesterday. It will end on Vesak Full Moon Poya Day in May. The processions, carrying the Sacred Casket Relics of the Buddha, sacred objects, and the statue of God Saman from the the Sri Pada Raja Maha Viharaya temple in Galpoththaawala, Ratnapura reached the Sri Pada Maluwa yesterday morning. Large crowds came to pay homage to Sri Pada on the first day of the pilgrimage season yesterday. Click here to read…

China: Daily Scan, December 07, 2022

China’s pension wealth management market sees steady operation: Xinhuanet
December 6, 2022

China’s pension wealth management market has seen steady operation since the country launched the pilot program last year, market data showed. The first four pilot retirement savings wealth management products, unveiled last December in four designated cities, have all achieved yields so far, data confirmed. Click here to read…

PLA naval destroyer Changsha arrives in Bangladesh for International Fleet Review: China Military
December 6, 2022

The Chinese naval guided-missile destroyer Changsha (Hull 173) sent to Bangladesh to participate in the International Fleet Review (IFR) has arrived in the waters off Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on December 5, local time. It approached the anchorage under the guidance of a Bangladeshi warship. Click here to read…

Guangzhou asks patients to prioritize online hospitals: China Daily
December 6, 2022

People in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, have been advised to prioritize the use of online hospitals and grass-root medical institutions for non-emergency medical needs for the time being. Click here to read…

China approves 4 new COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use in 2 days, as authorities consider nationwide 4th dose: Global Times
December 6, 2022

From 3 pm Sunday to 4 pm Monday, four new COVID-19 vaccines were approved for emergency use in the Chinese mainland, including three recombinant protein-based vaccines, as well as a nasal spray influenza virus vector vaccine, and sources told the Global Times that the authorities are considering a fourth dose. Click here to read…

Enterprises suspend lithium production due to environmental issue in Yichun: Global Times
December 6, 2022

Some listed enterprises in Yichun, East China’s Jiangxi Province, which is known as the “lithium capital of Asia,” have temporarily suspended lithium production following an environmental investigation of a local river due to abnormal water quality. Click here to read…

Cross-border e-commerce injects new impetus into China’s foreign trade development: People’s Daily
December 6, 2022

China’s foreign trade has shown strong resilience and vitality this year. In particular, cross-border e-commerce, with its advantages in online transactions, contactless delivery and short transaction chains, has become key to stabilizing foreign trade and promoting consumption. Click here to read…

China’s leadership holds symposium for soliciting advice on economic work: Xinhuanet
December 7, 2022

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has held a symposium with non-CPC personages to solicit opinions and suggestions on this year’s economic situation and economic work for the next year. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the symposium on Dec. 2 and delivered an important speech. Click here to read…

Full text of Xi Jinping’s speech at memorial meeting for Comrade Jiang Zemin: Xinhuanet
December 7, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered a speech at the memorial meeting for Comrade Jiang Zemin on Tuesday. Click here to read…

Xi to attend China-Arab summit, China-GCC summit, visit Saudi Arabia: Xinhuanet
December 7, 2022

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the first China-Arab States Summit and the China-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and pay a state visit to Saudi Arabia from Dec. 7 to 10 at the invitation of King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the announcement here on Wednesday. Click here to read…

Chinese mainland reports 4,351 new local confirmed COVID-19 cases: Xinhuanet
December 7, 2022

The Chinese mainland on Tuesday reported 4,351 locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said Wednesday. Altogether 20,764 local asymptomatic carriers were newly identified. Click here to read…

PLA Support Base in Djibouti holds Horn of East Africa medical forum: China Military
December 7, 2022

Recently, the Chinese PLA’s Support Base in Djibouti held the third “Horn of East Africa” medical forum attended by military medical experts from Djibouti, France, Italy and other countries. They conducted exchanges under the theme of “Focusing on Individual, Saving the Dying and Healing the Wounded” during the event. Click here to read…

China’s leadership holds symposium for soliciting advice on economic work: China Daily
December 7, 2022

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has held a symposium with non-CPC personages to solicit opinions and suggestions on this year’s economic situation and economic work for the next year. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the symposium on December 2 and delivered an important speech. Click here to read…

More COVID curbs eased in Beijing, other cities: China Daily
December 7, 2022

Measures: Hospitality, tourism industries expected to recover. Authorities in several Chinese regions eased COVID-19 restrictions to varying degrees on Tuesday, slowly and steadily adopting a new approach to deal with the virus and making life less regimented for the people. Click here to read…

Zhejiang province introduces tiered diagnosis and treatment for COVID-19 patients: China Daily
December 7, 2022

A plan for the tiered diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients has been put into place in Zhejiang, according to a top expert from the province on Monday. According to the plan, people infected with COVID-19 will be diagnosed and treated in designated hospitals, while critically ill patients will be sent to designated intensive care units, said Sheng Jifang, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the First Affiliated Hospital of the College of Medicine at Zhejiang University based in the provincial capital Hangzhou. Click here to read…

China’s top health authority encourages patients with mild COVID symptoms to stay at home for observation, treatment: Global Times
December 7, 2022

The National Health Commission’s official WeChat account “Health China” on Tuesday reposted a CCTV interview with Wang Guiqiang, director of the infectious diseases department at Peking University First Hospital, suggesting stratified treatment for COVID-19 patients, which means asymptomatic and mild patients can be observed and treated at home, while limited medical resources are reserved for those with severe and high-risk conditions. Click here to read…

Demand for COVID-19 antigen detection kits surges following policy optimization: Global Times
December 7, 2022

Demand for antigen detection kits has surged in China in recent days as the country moves away from large-scale nucleic acid testing toward a flexible way of combating the COVID-19 virus, public data and media reports noted. Click here to read…

Chinese maker of Lianhua Qingwen vows to expand production amid controversy over surge in prices: Global Times
December 7, 2022

Chinese drug producer Yiling Pharmaceutical said on Tuesday that it is taking various measures to expand production of its traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Lianhua Qingwen to ensure market supply. Click here to read…

China medical expert says COVID has mutated, should be renamed – state media: Reuters
December 7, 2022

China should change its official name for COVID-19 to reflect the virus’ mutation, and patients with light symptoms should be allowed to quarantine at home, a leading authority on traditional Chinese medicine was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Gu Xiaohong told the state-run Beijing Daily newspaper that the coronavirus’ Chinese name, which identifies it as a pneumonia-causing disease, should be changed to call it simply an infectious virus. Click here to read…

China’s trade shrinks sharply as feeble demand, domestic COVID woes take toll: Reuters
December 7, 2022

China’s exports and imports shrank at a much steeper-than-expected pace in November, as feeble global and domestic demand, COVID-induced production disruptions and a property slump at home piled pressure on the world’s second-biggest economy. Exports contracted 8.7% in November from a year earlier, a sharper fall from a 0.3% loss in October and marked the worst performance since February 2020, official data showed on Wednesday. They were well below analysts’ expectations for a 3.5% decline. Click here to read…

West Asia Roundup: September 2022


Iran has been rattling on account of international sanctions, lack in progress on JCPOA Nuclear deal due to shifting goal posts, economic down turn even as it may have got some respite due to the Russia-Ukraine war in the context of accentuating energy crisis especially in Europe. But Tehran’s domestic scene remains charged and volatile in the aftermath of the death of a young Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police which held and allegedly tortured her due to inappropriate attire. Death to Dictator and public shearing of hair and burning of Hijab became symbols of resistance, identity and independence of women folk even as the Iranian society and even the leadership remain divided on the issue. The Government tried to pass it off the protests as the western devil’s plot and design to destabilize the country. But deep rooted problems from economy to freedom have compounded the situation much more and could be a watershed moment in the Iranian polity and society. Tehran even launched some preemptive strikes on Kurdish Iraqis accusing them of supporting protests.

Iran and Albania broke off diplomatic relations as Tehran was accused of cyber attacks on its security establishment. US imposed some more sanctions.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was appointed as the Prime Minister which is another step in his rise to be the King in due course as greater powers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia devolve upon him as a de facto ruler.

Egypt and Qatar ties have warmed up even more after the blockade was lifted at the Al Ula summit with MBS’s initiative. Doha is making significant investments in Egypt; hence the visit of President Abdel Fateh el Sisi to Doha acquired greater salience. Qatari Emir in his UN address like several other Arab leaders reiterated support for the Palestinian cause.

Israeli PM Yair Lapid and Turkish President met in New York and agreed to exchange Ambassadors as well as discussed cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean as Ankara offers transit to likely gas pipelines and flows from Israel to Europe. This was the first highest level exchange since 2008.

PM Yair Lapid during his UNGA address spoke of the two state solution to the Palestinian problem as the Israeli Defence Forces continued to pound targets in Palestine and Syria.

At the 77thUNGA, President Erdogan once again raked up the Kashmir issue “India and Pakistan, after having established their sovereignty and independence 75 years ago, they still haven’t established peace and solidarity between one another. This is much unfortunate. We hope and pray that a fair and permanent peace and prosperity will be established in Kashmir” was considered milder after his meeting with PM Modi at Samarkand. India discarded the comments that it does not take into cognisance such statements by irrelevant parties.

India seems to have changed its approach adopting tit for tat policy that was evident during EAM Dr Jaishankar’s meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA when he tweeted ‘”Met FM @MevlutCavusoglu of Turkiye on side-lines of #UNGA. Wide ranging conversation that covered the Ukraine conflict, food security, G20 processes, global order, NAM and Cyprus’. Cyprus has been hanging fire since 1974 Turkish invasion.

Dr Jaishankar among scores of his meetings also met the Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush and “appreciated her perspectives on the evolving situation in Libya.” The situation in Libya continues to be volatile.

I2U2 continues to focus on project delivery and closer engagement. I2U2 (India-Israel-UAE-USA) Sherpas met on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York on 20 September. The group expressed its commitment to deepening the economic partnership among the four countries. They took stock of the projects identified under I2U2: (i) setting up of food parks in India and (ii) hybrid Renewable Energy/battery storage project in Dwarka, Gujarat.

PM Modi met Iranian President Raisi on the side-lines of the SCO Summit (Sept 16) in Samarkand. Iran has just joined the SCO as full member. Apart from bilateral, regional, global and status of JCPOA negotiations, the two leaders reviewed the progress in the development of the Shahid Behesti terminal, Chabahar Port and underscored the importance of bilateral cooperation in the field of regional connectivity. Iran is hoping to resume its oil and gas supplies to India in the same manner that she is buying it from Russia. PM invited President Raisi to visit India.

EAM Dr Jaishankar visited Saudi Arabia from August 10-12, to co-chair the inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation (PSSC), established under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council, with the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, HH Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud. The two Ministers undertook a comprehensive review of the entire bilateral relationship and discussed the progress under the four Joint Working Groups of the PSSC Committee, namely i) Political & Consular; ii) Legal & Security; iii) Social & Cultural and iv) Joint Committee on Defence Cooperation. The meetings of these Groups and Senior Officials (at Secretary level) have been held over the past few months. Both sides also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest including their cooperation at the UN, G20 and GCC. He also called on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman apart from meeting Secretary General of GCC among others.

The 14th India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of UAE H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on 01 September 2022. Both Ministers expressed happiness at the entry into force of the landmark Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 01 May 2022 and organization of various activities and events for the effective implementation of the Agreement. Both Ministers reiterated commitment to achieving the goal of USD 100 billion of bilateral trade in the next five years. They also positively assessed the investment partnership between both countries and the growth of UAE investments in India in diverse sectorsin accordance with the Vision Statement made by Pm Modi and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in February, 2022.

More Details ….
Protest in Iran demanding Gender Justice

The death of a 22 year old Iranian Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini on 16 September after her arrest in Tehran by the infamous Morality Police has ignited number of protest throughout the Islamic Republic. Amini during her detention collapsed and fell into coma for three days. Amini’s family has claimed that she faced brutal punishment leading to the death. Iranian authorities in order to deflect criticism have claimed that she suffered from pre-existing conditions. The death has raised questions on Iran’s rigid laws over women’s public conduct including their clothing. Consequently, in response to the death, protest began on Amini’s hometown, Saqqez in Kurdistan province which spread throughout the country.

Iranian government has responded by imposing internet restrictions banning social media and clamping down on protests leading to around 100 deaths. Iran has blamed the US and Israel for igniting the protests calling it a conspiracy.

New US sanctions on Iran

The Joe Biden administration on 9 September imposed restrictions on Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security after reports of cyber-attack in Albania targeting police computer systems. On 29 September, the US launched another round of sanctions promising to impose financial penalties on a regular basis and severely curbing Iranian oil and petro-chemical exports. The new sanctions have targeted ‘front companies’ involved in sale of Iranian petroleum and petro-chemical exports based in India, China, Hong Kong and the UAE. The sanctions entail freezing the assets of these sanctions in the US and prohibitions on the US citizens to carry out business. The US has linked the new sanctions to the failure of JCPOA talks due to continued differences over fundamental issues. Iran has continued to accelerate the nuclear programme including uranium enrichment. Iran at the same time has restarted talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over probe into man-made nuclear particles discovered at nuclear sites. Iran has denied the presence of nuclear particles claiming it as false information spread by Israel.

Iranian strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iranian forces on 28 September carried out missile and drone strikes at bases of a left wing armed opposition group called the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan or KDPI. The Iranian attacks in Koya located 60 km east of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan led to 13 deaths. The military action has been undertaken in the context of domestic protests following Mahsa Amini’s death. Iranian government has blamed the Iranian-Kurdish separatists of involvement in protests. IRGC has claimed that the operation will continue until threats are thwarted and terrorist group bases are destroyed.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman appointed as Prime Minister

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) has been appointed as the new Prime Minister after cabinet reshuffles ordered by King Salman. The Crown Prince is already the de-facto leader of the state who earlier held portfolios such as Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister. In terms of the current cabinet reshuffle, MBS’ younger brother, Khalid bin Salman was named as Defence Minister. Moreover, according to royal decree, the positions of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih were reaffirmed. The appointment of MBS as Prime Minister indicates the slow transition of power in the kingdom.

Parliamentary Election in Kuwait

On 20 September, election for the National Assembly was held in Kuwait. Earlier, on 2 August 2022, Kuwaiti Crown Prince Meshal al-Ahmad dissolved the parliament after months of in-fighting between the National Assembly and the government under Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Sabah. The parliament also passed non-confidence votes on Defence and Foreign Affairs Ministers. The fresh election has led to defeat of several “pro-government” politicians. The Islamic Constitutional Movement affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the Shiite bloc has managed to increase its share in the 50 seat assembly. Notably, 305 candidates participated in election as independents since political parties are banned from contesting polls. In terms of female participation, 22 women participated in the election and only two secured victory.

Kuwait’s democratic institutions are fairly active as compared to other Gulf States. The political stability in the country is dependent on cooperation between the government and parliament. In case of stalemates, the Emir often resorts to cabinet reshuffles and dissolution of the parliament.

Egyptian President’s Visit to Doha

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi visited Qatar on 13 and 14 September and met with Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Earlier in June, Qatari Emir had visited Egypt indicating sign of warming ties. Egypt had joined Saudi Arabia to impose economic blockade on Qatar in 2017 for their alleged support towards terrorist groups and close ties with Iran. Domestically within Egypt, Qatar had backed the Muslim Brotherhood led government that ruled the state briefly between 2012 and 2013. Doha was critical of the military coup led by El-Sisi that banned Muslim Brotherhood and led to mass arrests and deaths of its supporters. Qatar based news channel, Al Qaeda has been highly critical of Egyptian government’s harsh treatment of civil society members, human rights activists, opposition figures etc. and number of its journalists have been languishing in Egyptian jails for years.

The recent bonhomie has occurred after Saudi Arabia lifted the blockade in 2021. In the background of Russia-Ukraine war, Qatar has helped Egypt to overcome the food crisis and in March 2022, it pledged to invest around US$ 5 billion. Qatar Energy also announced agreement with ExxonMobil to acquire 40 percent stake in gas exploration block in Mediterranean Sea. During the current visit, both states signed three MOUs including close cooperation between their respective sovereign wealth funds.

Israeli airstrikes in Syria

Israeli forces on 6 September carried out airstrike on Aleppo Airport damaging the runway and putting it out of service. IDF had earlier attacked the airport on 31 August partially damaging the facility. The Israeli raids destroyed the warehouses belonging to Iran backed fighters. Syrian Transport Ministry after the 6 September attack was forced to divert all flights from Aleppo to the international airport in Damascus.

Israel has carried out number of attacks in areas under the control of Bashar Al Assad government. Israel has refused to divulge details about these operations. It however acknowledged that strikes have been conducted against Iran allied fighters including Hezbollah.

Israeli Raids in West Bank

Israeli forces have carried out number of military raids in occupied West Bank in September 2022. On 6 September, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) blew up an apartment in Jenin belonging to the family of Raed Hazem, responsible for killing three Israelis in April 2022. In Nablus, two Palestinians were killed on 24 and 25 September. Israeli forces also shot dead one Palestinian and 16 others. Israeli forces on 28 September killed four Palestinians and injured 44 others during a military raid on a refugee camp in Jenin. Reportedly, three out of the four casualties were members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

The death of a seven year old Palestinian child on 29 September has re-ignited public uproar about the treatment by Israeli forces towards Palestinians. The Palestinian boy, Rayan Suleiman was chased by Israeli soldiers while walking home from school. Suleiman during the chase suffered from cardiac arrest leading to his death. The European Union (EU) expressed shock over the death and the US State Department called for investigation. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has ruled out use of violence arguing that only one officer went to Suleiman’s house after spotting children throwing stones. Palestinians came out in large numbers throughout West Bank condemning Israel’s military tactics. There were also reports of confrontation between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Tequa.

Turkey and Israeli leaders meeting since 2008

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on 20 September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. It was the first high level meeting since 2008. The relationship had nosedived after 2008-2009 Israel Gaza war and 2010 attack by Israeli forces on Turkish flotilla carrying humanitarian aid towards Gaza. President Erdogan has regularly utilized the subject of Palestinian suffering to increase his domestic and regional legitimacy. Turkey also had been vocal in condemning Israeli actions in West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Turkey eventually agreed to restore full diplomatic relations with Israel in August 2022. During the meeting in New York, both leaders discussed about energy cooperation, intelligence sharing and Russia-Ukraine war. Israel also appointed Irit Lillian as the new Ambassador to Turkey on 20 September 2022.

West Asia Round up-July 2022


After 19 months into his Presidency the US Administration decided that President Joe Biden embark on a ‘mending fences’ visit to West Asia including Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia to interact bilaterally and regionally with GCC++ leaders in Jeddah at the Security and Development Summit . While Khashoggi’s assassination and Biden’s berating of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his election campaign were the bitter pills both sides decided to swallow. Saudi Arabia and the US will cooperate on a range of future industries including 5G networks, enhanced cyber security, and space exploration, in addition to public health for which several agreements were signed.

Russia-Ukraine war was the backdrop as higher energy production to ease supply constraints especially to Europe remained a priority. So did update on the status of negotiations on the Iranian Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) while assuring its Gulf and Middle East partners of USA’s continued support and interest in their security. He said ‘USA was not going anywhere’. Biden also made greater efforts to persuade the Saudi’s to near- normalize ties with Tel Aviv even as Riyadh opened up its airspace for all airlines including El AL. Saudi FM, however, clarified that no normalization possible until the two state solution with Palestine is reached and opening of the air space was not a precursor either.

Biden also attended the I2U2 Summit leaders from India, Israel and UAE; it is considered to be a techno-economic extension of the Abraham Accords. It was agreed by all four sides to expedite the mutually beneficial projects in the six designated areas to begin with. This QUAD in once year with the appointed Sherpas and experts at beck and call as well as PPP enterprise seems to have achieved much more in less than a year including a Virtual Summit of leaders.

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz claimed that Israel could use Abraham Accords and normalization of relations with Arab countries to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and develop confidence building measures. Even Biden asked Palestinian President Abbas to cooperate but the Palestinians feel that the Abraham Accords are a mechanism to bypass their cause. Meanwhile, interim Israeli PM Yair Lapid met with Jordanian King Abdullah II to discuss the regional situation as Israeli leadership was getting ready for an eventual confrontation with Iran if the various reports are to be believed.

One of the outcomes of the Biden visit was that U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of C-17 aircraft sustainment and related equipment to the United Arab Emirates for an estimated cost of $980.4 million, according to Pentagon.

Saudi Crown Prince visited France and held discussions in a more charming manner with Macron. Saudi Arabia and France agreed to boost cooperation on renewable energy including solar, wind and clean hydrogen following the guidelines of the Paris Climate Accords. France -UAE also signed an Energy Cooperation Deal.

As the Russia -US contest via Kiev continues, Tehran hosted Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan under the Astana Format on Syria. President Ebrahim Raisi reiterated “We stress the importance of implementing the previous agreements among the guarantor states – Russia, Iran and Turkey- on Syria and announce our support for the political resolution in the country along with combating terrorism till eliminating it completely”. He however beseeched his Turkish counterpart not to attack on Northern Syrians as this will embolden the terrorist groups. Erdogan and Raisi also co-chaired the 7th Meeting of the Türkiye-Iran High Level Cooperation Council.

Prime Minister Modi virtually participated in the I2 U2 Summit

A trilateral meeting of focal points of France, India and UAE was held in which the three sides exchanged perspectives on the Indo-Pacific region and explored the potential areas of trilateral cooperation including Maritime Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), Blue Economy, Regional Connectivity, Cooperation in Multilateral Fora, Energy and Food Security, Innovation and Startups, Supply Chain Resilience and Cultural and People-to-People Cooperation. They also discussed the next steps to be taken for furthering trilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.
India strongly condemned the recent killings in the Zakho district of Dohuk Governatorate, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, which is a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty and a blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra spoke with Dr. Ali Bagheri Kani, Deputy Minister for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and discussed various elements of bilateral relations including progress on the Chabahar Port. Foreign Secretary underscored India’s commitment to strengthen bilateral cooperation with Iran in addressing shared opportunities and challenges. Both sides also discussed international and regional issues including Afghanistan as per MEA.

More Details ….

US President’s visit to Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia

US President Joe Biden made his first trip to the West Asian region after coming to power. In Israel, he called himself as a fellow Zionist and claimed that the connection between US and Israel is bone deep. Biden during his two days stay in Jerusalem met with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden’s interactions and speeches were largely concentrated to his personal ties and bilateral relations with minimal reference to solving Israel-Palestine conflict. He however expressed support for two-state solution without referring to Palestinians by name. Moreover, any discussion on new US initiated peace plan was muted. Biden briefly met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and discussed about economic incentives. Joe Biden administration is keen to re-open its consulate in East Jerusalem.

In Saudi Arabia, Biden met with Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman indicating re-acceptance of the controversial leader after his involvement in killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The US through the visit is seeking to solidify the alliance against Iran. Biden during his interaction with nine Arab leaders assured that the US will not de-prioritise the region that could expand the influence of Russia, China and Iran.

Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to France

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the last week of July met with French President Emmanuel Macron. The visit is seen as a diplomatic rehabilitation of the Saudi Crown Prince who became infamous for his role in killing of Jamal Khashoggi. The efforts by France and other western states to court Saudi Arabia should be seen in the context of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict; slow progress to revive the nuclear deal with Iran and the recent visit by the US President Joe Biden to Jeddah. The western states are seeking to reset engagement with Saudi Arabia to counter the rising regional influence of Iran, Russia and China. Emmanuel Macron’s office dismissing criticism to meet the controversial Saudi leader argued that meeting is important at a time of global energy and food crisis. Macron’s office assured that the subject of human rights would be raised. Macron during his meeting requested Saudi Arabia to increase its oil production to help in bringing down crude oil prices. Saudi Arabia is seen as integral for the diversification of energy supplies for European states. Both leaders expressed the need for ending Russia-Ukraine conflict as well as intensify cooperation to ease the effects in Europe. In case of Yemen, the French President appreciated the efforts by Saudi Arabia to find a political, global and inclusive solution under UN and hoped that the truce continues.

The Saudi Crown Prince prior to reaching France made a stop in Greece and met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on 26 July. Saudi Arabia and Greece signed agreement on renewable energy. Both leaders also talked about expanding engagement in security and promote investments. Earlier in May 2022, both states agreed to set up a joint venture to build a data cable i.e. East to Med Data Corridor which will be built by MENA HUB owned by Saudi Arabia’s STC and Greek firm, TTSA.

Protest in Iraq

The supporters of influential Shiite cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr entered the highly secure Green Zone on multiple occasions in July 2022. The protestors stormed the parliament building to prevent MPs from electing Mohammad al-Sudani who was nominated by Al-Sadr’s opponents as Prime Minister. The supporters of the Sadrist Movement also set up tents to prepare for a long sit-in at the parliament. The Sadrists are demanding fresh election to resolve the political stalemate.
Notably, during the October 2021 election, none of the political groups managed to win majority. Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sadrist Movement secured the highest number of seats winning 73 out of 329 seats. The Sadrist Movement’s political platform is based on Iraqi nationalism and opposition to foreign interference from the US as well as Iran. Al-Fatah alliance that includes Iran supported Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) managed to secure only 17 seats. The Sadrist Movement led coalition Saving the Homeland coalition that includes Al-Siyada or Sovereign Alliance and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) failed to form the government. Eventually on 13 June, MPs from the Sadrist movement resigned deepening the political chaos. It led to coordination Framework becoming the largest bloc in parliament. However, there was no agreement on appointing a new Prime Minister, President and cabinet.

Iran-Taliban Clashes

Iranian forces during clashes with Taliban killed one fighter in Kong district of Nimroz province on 31 July. According to Taliban sources, Iranian forces initiated the attack which has been denied by the Iranian government. Tasnim news agency and Iran’s state run IRNA claimed that Taliban forces entered Iranian territory in Hirmand in Sistan and Balochistan province and tried to raise their own flag. Iranian government defended the military action by suggesting that Taliban fighters had mistaken a wall constructed within Iranian territory to prevent smugglers. Taliban fighters despite repeated explanations by Iranian government have considered the wall as the borderline. Earlier in 2021, similar border incident had occurred due to the confusion over the border.

Iran’s relation with Taliban has been difficult due to harassment and persecution of Shiite Hazara community. Tehran has refused to officially recognise the Taliban that took control over Kabul in August 2021 until it is willing to accommodate other political factions and form an “inclusive” government.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s meeting with Jordanian King in Amman

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited Jordan on 27 July and met with Jordanian King Abdullah II. King Abdullah II mentioned that Palestinians should be part of US sponsored regional economic projects necessary for stability in the region. Jordan has urged Israel to include Palestinians in water for energy deals between both states which could be financed by Gulf States. Historically, Jordan-Israel ties were marked by hostility and both states fought wars in 1947 and 1967. During the 1967 war, Israeli forces captured West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordanian control. Jordan eventually signed peace treaty with Israel in 1994 in the aftermath of the 1993 Oslo Peace Accord. Despite the peace treaty, the subject of Palestine continues to weigh on their bilateral relations. King Abdullah II during the current meeting stressed that Palestinian statehood and comprehensive and lasting peace is essential for reaching lasting peace. Moreover, he asked Israelis to honour the religious sanctity of the Al Aqsa Mosque and maintain calm in occupied East Jerusalem. On bilateral level, both states discussed about increasing economic projects in water, energy, food security and transport sectors. Amman also asked Tel Aviv to relax its grip on the flow of Jordanian exports to the occupied West Bank. Both sides also discussed about US President Joe Biden’s initiative to further normalise Israel-Arab relations to build a front against Iran.

Iran arrests Mossad Spies

Iranian police on 28 July arrested five spies allegedly linked to Israel’s external intelligence agency, Mossad. Iranian authorities did not reveal the nationality of those arrested and hinted that arrested individuals had received training for armed operations and sabotage. The individuals were reportedly given pledges from Mossad including financial promises to gather information about strategic sites from Iranian territory. Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office that oversees Mossad has refused to comment on the reported arrests. Israel in the recent months has carried out number of killings of Iranian military officials and scientists. Israel on official level did not confirm or deny their actions. Earlier on 24 July, Iranian intelligence forces arrested members of an Israeli cell who were planning to cause explosion in Isfahan. These individuals reportedly entered the state through Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Isfahan hosts some of the prominent nuclear facilities including Natanz that was targeted in 2020 and 2021.

Clash in Syria

On 26 and 27 July, clashes between local armed fighters and gangs aligned with the government security forces led to 17 deaths in the Druze majority province of Sweida in Syria. Reportedly, ten government loyalists from the Falhout faction and seven local fighters were killed. Moreover, at least 40 people were injured during the clashes. The latest violence was triggered after the abduction of two people close to local armed groups. Bashar Al Assad since 2011 has been facing domestic discontent backed by external powers to overthrow his rule. Assad however managed to retain his power due to military assistance from Russia and Iran. Assad backed fighters have gained significant ground in recent years and ordinary Syrians have complained about arbitrary detentions, roadblocks and kidnappings for ransom by these fighters. The two day long clashes finally subsided after local fighters surrounded the village headquarters of the pro-Damascus faction. The abducted locals were finally released after the violence.

Grain Silos in Beirut Port Damaged Again

Part of grain silos at Beirut port collapsed after week long fire caused by summer heat burning the grains. The northern block of the silos feel out on 31 July. The General Director of the Beirut Port Silos, Assad Haddad assured that the situation was under control. The Civil Defence Department however warned that other parts of the silos’ northern block were at high risk. The explosion at the port on 4 August 2020 had rocked the state killing 200 and injuring more than 6000 people.

The recent fire has raised criticism about the government’s ineffectiveness to manage the grain silos and overall incompetence in governance. In the aftermath of the August 20202 blast, the investigation by Lebanese authorities revealed that senior government and security officials were aware of the presence of dangerous material including ammonium nitrate stored at the port. However, none of officials have been convicted and the investigation was suspended after the implicated officials brought legal challenges against the judge who was leading the investigation.