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Afghanistan, Mexico designated as major drug hubs

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2015)

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President Obama on Monday designated 22 countries, including Afghanistan, Burma and Mexico, as “major drug transit and/or major illicit drug producing countries.”

The White House was careful to note that countries working to combat the drug trade can still wind up on the annual list because of a “combination of geographic, commercial, and economic factors that allow drugs to transit or be produced.”

Bolivia, Burma, which is now called Myanmar, and Venezuela were singled out as failing “demonstrably during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counter-narcotics agreements,” according to the presidential determination sent to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Obama also declared that helping Burma and Venezuela fight drug producing and trafficking is “vital to the national interests of the United States.”

“[I]llegal poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is among the most difficult international drug-control problems,” Obama stated, adding that it has been the world’s largest poppy producer for 15 of the last 16 years.

Burma, which the Obama administration recently re-established ties with and is allowing U.S. businesses to invest in, and Laos are the next two biggest opium producers.

“[C]ountering illegal drug cultivation in Burma and Laos will require strengthening of state institutions and sustainable economic development,” Obama stated.

Obama praised Colombia, Haiti and Peru for their efforts to stamp out illegal drug production and trafficking.

“While Peru remains the top cocaine producer in the world, the Peruvian government has a comprehensive five-year counter-narcotics strategy to aggressively eradicate illicit coca, implement alternative development programs, interdict illicit narcotics and reduce domestic drug abuse,” Obama stated.

Although not on the list officially, Obama said China’s production of certain chemicals that can be used in synthetic drugs is of concern.

“The international community is also taking steps to focus attention on illegal drug activity in China, especially precursor chemicals produced in China that are diverted from legitimate commerce to criminal elements for the production of illicit plant-based and synthetic drugs,” he stated.

The following 22 countries were designated as major drug producers or gateways for fiscal 2016, a list that is unchanged from last year: Afghanistan, The Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Obama noted that next April, the United Nations is convening a special session focusing on combating drug production and trafficking globally.

Source: Washington examiner

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UN Security Council to meet over situation in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday that will focus on the current situation in Afghanistan.

UNSC members are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and security concerns.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Bilal Karimi said the IEA welcomed meetings that are held with the aim of cooperating with the government and people of Afghanistan.

He also said that Afghans expect cooperation and that such meetings must be held in accordance with international laws and principles.

However, the IEA still does not have a designated UN representative – one year after taking control of the country.

Instead, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who assumed leadership of the Afghan mission to the UN in December last year, will address the security council members.

The IEA does not however recognize him as the legitimate envoy to the UN.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Faiq said that he would address the security council meeting and speak on behalf of Afghans.

“On behalf of Afghans, in this important meeting, like always, I would like to raise the voice of my nation,” he said.

In September last year, the IEA asked the UN to accredit Suhail Shaheen, the head of the IEA’s political office in Qatar, as the new ambassador.

But in December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in which it indefinitely delayed a decision over the rival claims to the representative seat for Afghanistan.

At the time, the IEA criticized the UN’s failure to decide on this issue, saying it was ignoring the rights of the Afghan people.

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Influential Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi dies at 96

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who was based in Qatar, died on Monday, according to a post on his official Twitter account.

The cleric was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and was chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

He was best known for his programme al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh (“Sharia and Life”), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40–60 million worldwide.

He is also known for IslamOnline, a website he helped to found in 1997 and for which he served as chief religious scholar.

Al-Qaradawi published more than 120 books, and received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars today.

Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, although he repeatedly stated that he was no longer a member. He has over the years been critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

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Rare 5,000-carat Afghan ruby unveiled in Dubai

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A rare 5,000-carat gemstone that went on private display in Dubai has been heralded as a “blessing from heaven” for the residents of the impoverished village in which it was unearthed.

The ruby, which weighs about 1 kilogram, has been hailed as “one of a kind” due to its rich purple coloring and size, the National News reported.

The ruby was discovered in the village of Hyderabad, bordering Iran and Afghanistan and its owner said he hoped the unexpected find would help bring a change of fortune for villagers without access to schools, hospitals or even electricity for some.

The uncut stone could cost at least $10 million in the market, asset manager Patrick Pilati told The National.

“It was an accidental finding from the village called Hyderabad bordering Iran and Afghanistan. There is no mining activity in the village that is under the jurisdiction of Afghanistan,” he said.

The rough stone is deep purple in color and bigger than the palm of a hand.

A certificate of authenticity …by the International Testing Laboratory Gems and Jewellery, in Jaipur, Rajasthan in India, and shown to The National, stated the rough ruby weighs 5,010 carats.

Azad Rokhsati, a gemologist, who was also present at the event, confirmed the size and weight.

“I have never seen anything like this,” he said.

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