EU ‘extremely worried’ about fate of nuclear treaty

The EU is worried about the fate of the US-Russia nuclear control treaty. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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EU ‘extremely worried’ about fate of nuclear treaty

  • Last month, Washington announced it was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
  • The treaty ended a nuclear build-up in Europe triggered by Moscow’s deployment of SS-20 missiles targeting Western European capitals

BRUSSELS: The EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini said Tuesday she was “extremely worried” about the fate of a major US-Russia nuclear missile control treaty, warning the security of Europe could be at risk.
Last month, Washington announced it was pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) over Russia’s deployment of a missile system that Western powers say breaches the 1987 accord.
The Kremlin has fired off warnings of a new arms race, and as she convened a meeting of EU defense ministers Mogherini expressed concern, calling for talks to maintain the agreement.
“If we go toward the dismantling of this agreement, Europe’s security is to be put at risk and we do not want to see European territory go back to being a battlefield for other powers as it has been for so long in the past,” she told reporters.
“We don’t want to go back to those kind of tensions, to that kind of situation and we still hope there is a space for saving the agreement and implementing it,” she said.
While US President Donald Trump’s administration has signalled it will withdraw from the treaty, it has not taken steps to put the decision into practice.
The INF treaty, signed by then US president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, ended a nuclear build-up in Europe triggered by Moscow’s deployment of SS-20 missiles targeting Western European capitals.
The US and NATO say Russia’s 9M729 missile system, also known by the designation SSC-8, breaches the treaty, which prohibits ground-launched missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
Washington says repeated attempts to persuade Russia to come back into compliance since 2013 have been met with silence or obfuscation.
Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the INF treaty during a brief conversation at World War I centenary events in Paris last week.


Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

Updated 21 May 2019
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Sri Lanka rejects plans for $10m Shariah university

  • Madrasas to be absorbed by Ministry of Education in wake of Easter Sunday attacks
  • More than 100 arrests have been made following the rioting. A curfew has been lifted and life is returning to normal

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday refused permission for a planned $10 million (SR37.5 million) Shariah university in one of the country’s main cities.

And in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks on hotels and churches, the premier also announced that all madrasas would be brought under the umbrella of Sri Lanka’s Education Ministry.

The latest moves by the Sri Lankan government follow widespread unrest on the island, with anti-Muslim riots having caused damage running into millions of dollars.

Wickremesinghe’s orders came after a fact-finding report into the university compiled by MP Ashu Marasinghe. He recommended that the institution, being constructed at Batticaloa, in the Eastern Province, should be privately operated and titled Batticaloa Technology University. The new education complex is located close to the township of Kattankudy where suspected ringleader of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, Zahran Hashim, lived and preached his messages of hate and violence.

The Sri Lankan government analyst’s department said on Tuesday that DNA tests proved Hashim died in the attack at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

President’s Counsel, Ali Sabry, a prominent lawyer and political analyst, told Arab News on Tuesday that the premier’s announcement was welcome.

“We don’t need a Shariah university at this juncture when there is a lot of suspicions on various Islamic topics that need to be clarified by Islamic theologians following the suicide attacks by Muslim extremists,” Sabry said. He stressed that the country’s main focus should be on strengthening ways to ensure peaceful coexistence among all communities.

The Sri Lankan University Grants Commission had a set of guidelines to license new universities, and Wickremesinghe’s latest recommendations would also be included among the requirements for a new university, Sabry added.

The prime minister’s ruling on madrasas (Islamic seminaries) would provide more transparency on the activities of the institutions, he said. “Their curriculum and their co-curricular activities should maintain a common standard and these madrasas should prepare the students to make them fit into society instead of just learning Arabic and Islam only.”

M.R.M. Malik, director of the Muslim Affairs Ministry in Colombo, told Arab News that currently all madrasas function under his ministry. “There are 317 madrasas throughout the island with an estimated 25,000 students. In addition to the local teachers, there are 38 Arabic teachers and 85 foreign students,” he said.

Most of the teachers are from Egypt, Pakistan and India, while many of the overseas students studying at the madrasas are from Libya, Pakistan, Jordan and India.

Sri Lanka Muslim Council President N.M. Ameen told Arab News that the local community had never wanted a Shariah university. However, he said the proposed curriculum for the madrasas should be constructed in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, Western Province Gov. Azath Salley, revealed that damage caused by anti-Muslim riots had reached nearly Rs900 million (SR19.2 million). The governor was speaking to Arab News following a visit to some of the worst-affected villages on the island.

“Speaking to the families of the vandalized properties, it’s clear that an organized gang had attacked these earmarked properties owned by Muslims,” said Salley. “One child, whose father was killed in his presence, is still in a state of utter shock and dismay.” He added that turpentine oil had been poured on the face of the dead carpenter by his killers and set on fire.

The governor urged the authorities to bring the attackers to justice. He added that the government would provide compensation to victims of wrecked properties.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasakera said that more than 100 arrests had been made following the rioting, and that a curfew had been lifted and life was returning to normal.