Syria Current Affairs - 2019

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Islamic State for first time claims ‘Province’ in India

The Islamic State (or IS, a Salafi jihadist militant group) for the first time has claimed that it has established a “province” in India. Although, ISIS began claiming attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir since November 2017 but without any branch affiliation.

About the Claims

  • New ‘province’: claimed by Islamic State (IS) is called in Arabic as “Wilayah of Hind” (India Province), the dreaded terror outfit, (also known as ISIS and ISIL). The claims came after a militant with alleged ties to the group was killed in a clash between security forces and militants in the Kashmir region.
  • IS Claims: As per IS’s Amaq News Agency claims, the IS caused casualties on Indian army soldiers in Amshipora town in Shopian district of Kashmir. The claims by IS corresponds with killing of a militant named Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi in an encounter in Shopian. As per Military officials for more than a decade, Sofi was involved in other kashmiri militant groups before pledging allegiance to Islamic State.
  • Analysis:
    • According to Indian security experts analysis, claims by IS about establishment of a ‘province’ in Kashmir region, where it in reality IS has nothing resembling actual governance is unreasonable, but it should not be written off.
    • ISIS earlier did not elaborate on its branch’s geographical remit as mentioned in name of its new branch in India in a low-key announcement.
    • The low-key announcement of new branch is being seen as part of ISIS’ strategy to give impression of strengthening its global affiliations following territorial losses in Middle East (Iraq and Syria in April). In past, such a strategy has been highlighted by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • Other Claims: IS also took responsibility for Easter Sunday bombing in Sri Lanka (in which at least 253 people killed). This shows that IS has stepped up hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks.

Arab League pledges $100m to Palestine

The Arab League has pledged to pay $100 million a month to the Palestinian National Authority to plug the resulting gaps since Israel has blocked tax transfers earlier in the year. The Arab League has taken the measure to ensure Palestine can be isolated from the political and financial pressure it faces.

Why did Israel freeze tax transfers to Palestine?

In February 2019, Israel decided to put into effect on Sunday a law passed by the Israeli Parliament in July 2018 calling to freeze funds transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel had accused Palestine of transferring the money provided by Israel to terrorists who were detained in Israel as well as to their families and to released prisoners.

But Palestine sees the transfer as a kind of welfare system for families who have lost a breadwinner. Israel which collects taxes on behalf of the Palestine Authority says that the terror salaries are encouraging further violence.

Arab League

Arab League is a regional organization of Arab states in and around North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Arabia. The league aims to “draw closer the relations between member States and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries”.

At present, the League has 22 members but Syria’s participation has been suspended since November 2011, as a consequence of government repression during the Syrian Civil War.