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Mugabe’s party to launch impeachment process Tuesday: MP

HARERE (AFP): Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party will launch the parliamentary process on Tuesday for impeaching President Robert Mugabe, a government lawmaker told AFP.

The decision on Monday came after Mugabe missed a deadline to resign given to him by his party over the weekend.

Once a simple majority of parliamentarians vote for impeachment, an investigative committee is formed by lawmakers, who report back to both houses of parliament. Each house must then vote by a two-thirds majority for him to be stripped of office.

“We are expecting the motion to be over (Tuesday),” said ZANU-PF lawmaker Paul Mangwana, referring to the initial procedure to commence impeachment proceedings.

He added that ZANU-PF had approached the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party to seek their cooperation to pass the necessary parliamentary votes.

In a televised address late Sunday, the 93-year-old veteran leader defied expectations he would quit, pitching the country into a second week of political crisis.

The speech provoked anger and disbelief among many Zimbabweans, fuelling concerns that Mugabe could face a violent backlash.

Zimbabwe’s crisis erupted on November 13 after a factional squabble over the presidential succession erupted into the open prompting the army to seize power.

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US Navy rolls out new measures after deadly Asia-Pacific crashes

PATTAYA (Reuters): The US Navy has introduced new measures aimed at avoiding a repeat of two deadly crashes in the Asia Pacific region involving its warships and commercial vessels following a review of its practices, the Seventh Fleet commander said on Monday.

Vice Admiral Phillip Sawyer’s comments come after a US guided missile destroyer was slightly damaged at the weekend when a Japanese tug drifted into it during a towing exercise off central Japan, the latest incident in the Pacific this year involving ships from the fleet.

The US Navy announced a series of reforms this month aimed at restoring basic naval skills and alertness at sea after a review of deadly collisions in the Asia-Pacific region showed sailors were under-trained and over-worked.

Two of the incidents – collisions with commercial vessels involving guided-missile destroyers, the Fitzgerald in June off Japan and then the John S McCain in August as it approached Singapore – have left a total of 17 sailors dead.

The crashes were caused by preventable errors by the sailors on board the ships, Navy investigations showed.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an international fleet review in the Thai seaside town of Pattaya, Sawyer said the Navy made “circadian rhythm” sleep guidelines a requirement and a new group, the Naval Surface Group Western Pacific, has been training officers at the fleet’s headquarters in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan.

“This is a team that is now in Yokosuka and they’re charged with doing the man, train, equip aspect of our operations with surface ships,” Sawyer told reporters.

“The second thing we have done is Automatic Identification System and that’s a system onboard ships that puts out signal and it tells whoever is receiving that signal the course, speed and identification of the ship,” he said.

“The third thing is that we are working on the circadian rhythm onboard the ships” to make the sailors more alert. Sawyer took command of the US force in August after the Navy removed the fleet’s previous commander, Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, following a series of collisions.

The US Seventh Fleet operates in the largest of the US Navy’s numbered fleets. It oversees about 70-80 ships and submarines at any given time in the region. The fleet operates over an area of 124 million square km (48 million square miles) from bases in Japan, South Korea and Singapore.

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US, Afghan forces strike opium factories to curb Taliban funds

KABUL (Reuters): US and Afghan forces have launched joint attacks on Taliban opium factories to try to curb the insurgent group’s economic lifeline, officials from both countries said on Monday.

US Army General John Nicholson showed videos at a press conference of targeted aerial strikes against what he described as Taliban drug factories.

“Last night we conducted strikes in northern Helmand to hit the Taliban where it hurts, in their narcotics financing,” said Nicholson, flanked by Afghan Army Lieutenant General Mohammad Sharif Yaftali.
The southern province of Helmand suffers heavy fighting and is the single-largest producer of opium.

Opium production in Afghanistan reached record highs this year, up 87 percent on last year, the United Nations said last week.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said output of opium made from poppy seeds in Afghanistan, the world’s main source of heroin, stands at around 9,000 metric tons this year.

UNODC has warned in the past that Kabul’s weakening grip on security was contributing to a collapse in eradication efforts.

Narcotics trafficking

Nearly half of Afghan opium is processed, or refined into morphine or heroin, before it is trafficked out of the country, according to US and Afghan officials.

“We’re determined to tackle criminal economy and narcotics trafficking with full force,” said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Twitter.

Nicholson said the attacks were part of US President Donald Trump’s new policy towards Afghanistan as he boosts troop numbers.
The four-star general showed one video of an F-22 fighter jet dropping 250-pound bombs on two buildings, emphasising that a nearby third building was left unscathed.

US troops have long been accused of causing unnecessary collateral damage and civilian deaths. The United States says it takes every precaution to avoid civilian casualties.

The United Nations said at least 10 civilians may have been killed by a strike in Kunduz earlier this month, contradicting a US investigation that found no civilian deaths.

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Turkish troops, Kurdish militia clash in Syria’s Idlib: report

ISTANBUL (AFP): The Turkish army and Kurdish militia exchanged fire Monday in the northern Syrian province of Idlib where Ankara’s troops are stationed as observers, the first report of such an incident in the area, state media said.

Kurdish militia fighters fired five mortars at an observation post in Idlib staffed by Turkish troops, the Anadolu news agency said. No casualties were reported and the mortars did not hit their target, it added.

In response, the Turkish army fired towards Kurdish militia-held positions around the town of Afrin, it added.

Turkish troops are deployed in Idlib as part of an agreement with Iran and Russia to implement four so-called de-escalation zones in flashpoint areas around Syria.

Up until the deployment of Turkish troops in mid-October, Idlib had largely been controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syria affiliate.

The incident comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to host Turkish and Iranian counterparts Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani for summit talks on Syria in Sochi on Wednesday.

Turkey has repeatedly threatened to launch a military operation on Afrin, which is controlled by the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) militia considered by Turkey to be a terror group.

Ankara views the YPG as the Turkish branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

The PKK is blacklisted as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Turkish troops have repeatedly clashed with the YPG in Aleppo province, especially during Ankara’s incursion last year, but this is the first time such an incident has been reported in Idlib.

Russia, along with Iran, is the key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while Turkey has backed the rebels seeking Assad’s ouster.

But Russia and Turkey have been working together since a 2016 reconciliation deal ended a crisis caused by the shooting down of a Russian war plane over Syria.

Analysts say that Erdogan will be keen to discourage Putin from backing the YPG in Syria at the Sochi talks, as Ankara seeks a say in post-war Syria after over six years of conflict.

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Indian troops martyr one more Kashmiri youth in Tral

SRINAGAR (Monitoring Desk): Indian troops martyred one more Kashmiri youth in Indian occupied Kashmir’s (IoK) Pulwama district on Monday, the Kashmir Media Service reported.

The troops killed the youth during a cordon and search operation in Chopan Mohalla of Tral area.

The martyred youth was identified as Adil Rashid Chopan, a resident of Larow village of Tral.

The operation was launched jointly by the Indian army, police, and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, KMS reported.

The cordon and search operation in the area was underway when reports last came.

A complete shutdown was observed in Indian occupied Kashmir on Sunday against the cordon and search operations and subsequent killings by Indian forces across the Kashmir Valley.

All shops and business establishments were closed, while traffic remained off the road. The call for strike was given by the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and Muhammad Yasin Malik.

Strict restrictions, including suspension of train, internet, and mobile services, were imposed in Srinagar to prevent anti-India protests.

The Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Syed Ali Gilani in a statement issued in Srinagar said that Pakistan’s permanent envoy to the United Nations, Dr Maleeha Lodhi’s stand on Kashmir, expressed by her in the World Body, was in accordance with the historical and ground realities of Jammu and Kashmir.

He added that Pakistan had been making its all-out efforts to implement the UN resolutions for settlement of the Kashmir dispute for the past many decades. He urged the international human rights organizations to take cognizance of the worsening situation in Kashmir.

A large number of women held pro-freedom protests in Hajin area of Banidpora district against the killing of six youth by Indian troops. The protesting women raised anti-India and pro-freedom slogans. Funeral prayers-in-absentia for the martyred youth were held in Chandergaer area.

Indian troops had martyred six Kashmiri youth on Saturday in a siege and search operation at Chadergeera in Hajin area of the Bandipore district.

Earlier, a commando of the Indian Air Force was killed and an army man was injured in an attack in the same area, the KMS reported.

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Saad Al-Hariri to visit Egypt on Tuesday

Monitoring Desk

BEIRUT: Saad Al-Hariri has announced to visit Egypt to meet President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Tuesday and will discuss bilateral issues with the Egyptian president.

Earlier on November 4, Saad Al-Hariri announced his resignation as a Lebanese prime minister in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia and he stayed there for a week and after he met with the French President Emmanuel Macron and recent the regional and political situation of Lebanon.

Hariri’s office said this on Sunday that Saad Al-Hariri will visit Egypt on Tuesday and will return to Lebanon on Wednesday to participate in the Independence Day Celebrations.

However, Lebanese President Michel Aoun has said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until it is delivered in person and all leaders of Beirut have called for his speedy return.

The resignation sparked a political crisis in Lebanon and put it on the front line of a regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hariri while resigning from the premiership criticized Iran and its ally Hezbollah which is in Lebanon’s coalition government. Apart from a brief trip to Abu Dhabi, he remained in Saudi Arabia until he flew to France.



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Cabinet minister: Israel has secret ties with many Arab states

Monitoring Desk

JERUSALEM: Cabinet Minister of Israel has said that Israel had secret ties with several Arab and Muslim countries from past many years. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said this while giving interview to Israeli radio on Sunday.

In an interview Yuval Steinitz said that we have ties with Muslim countries including Arab states and these relations were kept secret on the wishes of other sides.

Earlier, Hezbollah accuses Saudi Arabia for pushing Israel to attack the Lebanese Shiite group. Yuval said that usually who wants those ties to be discreet is the other side answering a question about ties with Saudi Arabia.

He added that Israel respect the wish of other side when contacts are developing whether is with Riyadh or any other country.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official diplomatic relation however they share a common enemy Iran and both the countries looking to stop the Tehran influence in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has spoken repeatedly with pride that relations are growing with the moderate Arab States and he didn’t name any of them but he was likely to referring to Saudi Arabia and other states.

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19 killed in Beijing fire: Chinese media

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING: At least 19 people were killed and eight others were injured when a inferno break out in house in Daxing district of Beijing on Saturday.

The Chinese media reported that the fire erupted in a house and completely it engulf the other houses in Daxing district of Beijing, however it did not specify the reason behind the fire but said that unidentified number of suspects were in police custody.

The rescue officials control the fire after three hours of struggle and the injured were shifted to hospital

Deadly fires are common in China, where fire safety regulations are widely flouted and enforcement is often careless. Eleven people died in September when a fire broke out in two houses in the eastern city of Taizhou.


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US, Pakistan resetting ties in changing world: Maleeha

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s Permanent Ambassador to United Nations has said that Pakistan and the United States are in the process of resetting their ties amid changing the world order and regional environment.

Maleeha Lodhi said this while addressing to a gathering of American foreign policy experts, academics and businessmen at New York She said that better and improved relation between Islamabad and Washington are very important for the global and regional peace.

She added that the relationship among the two countries will be determined by the terms of such re-engagement and establishing the relationship both on one level.

Robin Raphel, a former US Assistant Secretary of State, who last served as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan said to the gathering that despite ups and downs in their relationship, US, cannot ignore Pakistan because of its strength and status in the world.

Former ambassador noted Pakistan now feels more confident of itself because of its burgeoning relationship with China, and growing ties with Russia. Still, she said that Pakistan needs the US.

Raphel underscored the need for US and Pakistan to collaborate in an effort to promote a settlement to end the war in Afghanistan. As a diplomat, she regretted that the overall efforts to deal with the Afghan war were more focused on a military solution rather than through a diplomatic process.


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Dozen soldiers to face charges in Gambia

BANJUL (AFP): A dozen Gambian soldiers will face charges for nine different offences, an army spokesman told AFP on Saturday, amid fears that a faction of the military remains loyal to ex-president Yahya Jammeh.

The charges were laid out at a court martial hearing held on Friday, where 12 officers were presented to a military panel and a civilian judge in a case shrouded in secrecy.

“Twelve army officers were arraigned before a court martial at Yundum barracks yesterday,” army spokesman Lamin Sanyang told AFP.

“They are charged with nine criminal counts, but for now I cannot go into the details,” he added.

Pleas will be entered on November 27, when the men are expected to be formally charged.

Separately, military sources told AFP the charges relate to sedition accusations and suspicions of loyalty to former President Jammeh, who ruled the small west African nation with an iron fist for 22 years.

A coalition of opposition parties fielded standard-bearer Adama Barrow as their candidate in December 2016 elections, who ultimately defeated Jammeh and took over the presidency in late January.

There have been concerns about lingering Jammeh supporters in the ranks of the army, evoked back in July by Colonel Magatte Ndiaye, the head of a Senegalese army contingent still deployed to The Gambia by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

He told AFP that rebel elements were intent on destabilising the country and working with exiled Jammeh-era top brass, though President Barrow has said such reports are “hugely exaggerated”.