Syria Kurds to pull forces from flashpoint town Manbij

File photo showing fighters from the U.S-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council stand behind a sand barrier as they look toward Turkish-backed fighters’ position at the front line north of Manbij town, Syria. (AP)
Updated 05 June 2018
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Syria Kurds to pull forces from flashpoint town Manbij

BEIRUT: A powerful Syrian Kurdish militia announced Tuesday it will withdraw from Manbij, a day after key brokers Ankara and Washington held talks on the fate of the strategic town.
The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) spearheaded a victorious offensive in 2016 to rid Manbij of the Daesh group, and had kept military advisers in the town to train local forces.
“Now, after more than two years of continuous work and with the Manbij Military Council being self-sufficient in their training, the YPG has decided to pull its military advisers from Manbij,” it said in a statement.
The YPG forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-Arab alliance that has ousted IS from swathes of Syria with help from the US-led coalition.
The coalition has both American and French troops stationed in Manbij, but the YPG statement did not say whether they would be redeployed.
It also made no mention of ongoing efforts between the US and Turkey to resolve the fate of the flashpoint town.
For months, Ankara has threatened to march on Manbij, accusing the YPG of being the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is blacklisted in Turkey.
Those threats raised fears of a confrontation between Turkish and American troops that talks have tried to tamp down.
Last month, Ankara and Washington outlined a “roadmap” to coordinate security in Manbij.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusolgu discussed the Manbij plan in Washington on Monday, the State Department said.
“They endorsed a Road Map to this end and underlined their mutual commitment to its implementation, reflecting agreement to closely follow developments on the ground,” it said in a statement, providing no further details.


OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

Updated 20 April 2019
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OIC body urges Muslim countries to promote culture of reading

  • Critical shortage of ‘reading rates’ and ‘lack of access to books’ deplored
  • ISESCO calls on Muslim countries to support publishing industry

RABAT, Morocco: Muslim countries must do more to promote books and reading, the Saudi Press Agency reported one of the world’s largest Islamic organizations as saying.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), which was founded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation 40 years ago, called on Muslim countries to improve the publishing industry, provide copyright protection, and preserve manuscripts by digitizing them so that current and future generations could benefit from them.

It made the comments ahead of World Book and Copyright Day, a UN event celebrated on April 23. 

ISESCO said that knowledge and science in Muslim communities soared when printing was discovered, adding that paper books would remain a pillar of culture and a driver for development because civilization was founded on the discovery of writing.

“The media through which knowledge and sciences were transferred have varied with the advent of the information and communications technology revolution,” ISESCO said. “The world now has digital as well as paper books and, in spite of this great leap achieved by humanity to disseminate knowledge and sciences, there is a critical shortage of reading rates, and a large segment of people lack access to books and intermediate technologies. In addition, certain categories of people, such as the visually impaired, do not benefit from a large number of publications.”

The ISESCO statement mentioned statistics that showed an increase in the proportion of published books compared with previous years, which were characterized by a decline in the sector. ISESCO said the functions of paper and digital books were evenly divided.

But the popularity of books and reading could not hide the difficulties and risks facing the written word, it added. Manuscripts faced destruction and theft in some areas of armed conflict and this phenomenon threatened Islamic culture and history, said ISESCO.

The body said that technology could be used to combat book piracy through practical measures such as standardizing legislation, closing legal loopholes and raising awareness about the dangers of piracy.

ISESCO called on member states to give attention to books and reading as well as people with special needs to help them access books.

 

Environment protection

Separately, ISESCO and the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection (PME) had a meeting on Friday in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World (KSAAEM).

The meeting, held at ISESCO headquarters, was presided over by PME President Khalil bin Musleh Al-Thaqafi and ISESCO Director General, Abdul Aziz Othman Al-Twaijri.

The meeting hailed the support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the efforts of the PME and ISESCO in the field of environmental protection in the Islamic world, including raising awareness about the importance of protecting the environment and encouraging scientific research through KSAAEM.

The two sides highlighted their coordination, consultation and cooperation to achieve common goals. Mohammed Hussein Al-Qahtani, PME’s director general of media and public relations, commended the efforts made in this area and the results, and said there was a need to develop the award’s media plan to expand its outreach.

Dr. Abdelamajid Tribak, from ISESCO’s Directorate of Science and Technology, gave a presentation on the activities of KSAAEM’s General Secretariat.

He said the number of nominees had risen this year compared to the previous year, with 200 entrants from 40 Islamic and non-Islamic countries.