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By Sirwan Kajjo
As the Syrian government forces continue to advance on the Syrian province of Idlib, the last main rebel stronghold in the country, experts say the northwestern region may no longer serve as a shelter for the Islamic State (IS) fighters who have sought refuge there following their defeat elsewhere in the war-torn country.
Syrian troops, backed by Russia, for months have been trying to take control of parts of Idlib. Last week, Syrian regime forces recaptured the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan in Idlib, which had been under rebel control since 2012.
Idlib is home to nearly 3 million people, including many who have been displaced from other parts of Syria over the last eight years of war in the country.
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Relocated IS fighters
A recent report published by the U.N. Security Council said the Syrian province remains dominated by extremist groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror groups. Idlib “also plays host to relocated ISIL fighters and dependents,” the U.N. report added, using another acronym for IS.
Following the military defeat of the terror group in eastern Syria in March 2019, many IS militants and their families moved to Idlib, fleeing from U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Experts say that IS, also known as ISIS, would inevitably face the same fate as many rebel and Islamist factions based in Idlib.
“If the Syrian regime retakes Idlib province, the ISIS members who have taken refuge in the Islamist-dominated enclave will be killed or flee into Turkey,” said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
“The Alawite leadership of Syria regards ISIS as a lethal enemy because ISIS regards Alawites in the same category as Yazidis — unbelievers whose women can be taken as slaves and whose men should be killed or converted,” Landis told VOA.
Alawites are a sect of Islam that is largely based in Syria. They make up about 10% of the country’s population. Alawites are the backbone of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite himself.
In addition to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the largest Islamist group in Idlib, which previously was al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, other extremist factions are active in the northwestern province.
Huras al-Din is one of several al-Qaida-linked groups that have maintained a significant presence in parts of Idlib. Other Turkey-backed rebel groups also have a foothold in the province. Western intelligence agencies believe that thousands of foreign fighters affiliated with different radical groups are active in Idlib. Some experts believe that the ever-changing military dynamics in Idlib could determine the presence of IS militants in the Syrian province.
IS “fighters that relocated to Idlib are in a precarious position because few local Syrian rebel groups trust them,” said Nicholas Heras, a Middle East expert at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in Washington. “The ISIS presence in Idlib is facilitated by the group’s access to large sums of money, which for all intents and purposes allows it to bribe local Syrian rebel groups to abide by its presence,” he told VOA.
Heras added that many IS fighters who relocated to Idlib are also Syrian nationals from the western parts of the country who have family networks there that facilitate their presence.
In October 2019, U.S. Special Forces carried out an operation in Idlib that killed the leader of the group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The former IS leader reportedly had been hiding in Idlib for months after moving between towns across eastern Syria as his so-called caliphate was crumbling.
The fact that “Baghdadi got to Idlib shows there was an active smuggling route from their former areas to Idlib,” said Seth Frantzman, director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis. He said IS members who have fled to Idlib in the last two years have largely remained inactive there. They were “part of the collapse of the ‘caliphate,’ sometimes seeking to find a way to get to Turkey or Idlib from Raqqa and then Baghuz as ISIS strongholds fell,” Frantzman told VOA.
Not the center of gravity
Analyst Heras of ISW says at this point Idlib doesn’t hold any strategic importance for IS as the terror group seeks to reorganize itself following the death of Baghdadi and the appointment of its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Qurashi.
“Idlib is not ISIS’s center of gravity in Syria; that remains the Badiya [region] of the central desert region and in Deir al-Zour,” he said. “The future of ISIS will not be Idlib, which is slowly and surely falling to Assad, it is the eastern parts of Syria that border Iraq and where ISIS has the most robust local networks of support,” Heras noted, adding that IS “can sustain an insurgency for years in eastern Syria.”
Analyst Frantzman believes that any takeover of Idlib by Syrian government forces could breathe new life into IS in other parts of the country.
“If it weakens the HTS and other Syrian extremist groups, then it might make ISIS appear to be the sole extremist group still active in marginal areas,” he added. (VOA/KB)
(Islamic State of Iran and Syria, ISIS in Syria, largest Islamic group, Middle East, Islamic Extremism, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi)
India is positioning itself as an economic partner by investments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, said a senior official of Export-Import Bank of India (India Exim Bank) on Friday.
In his address at the India-Morocco Business Forum, the bank’s Deputy Managing Director Harsha Bangari said that India’s trade with the MENA region has traditionally been governed by the fact that the region has been a critical source of energy.
“India is now increasingly positioning itself as an economic partner through increased investments in the region,” she said.
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India Exim Bank on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bank of Africa BMCE Group.
Senior representatives from the institutions were joined by Morocco’s Ambassador to India, Mohammed Maliki, and India’s Charge d’affaires in Morocco, G.K. Pant, at the Forum, which was organized on a virtual platform.
India’s bilateral trade with Morocco has increased from $1.2 billion in 2010 to $2.1 billion in 2019.
While India’s imports from Morocco are largely dominated by phosphate and potash, exports are more diversified covering textiles, chemical products, petroleum products, and pharmaceutical products.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: हॉलीवुड अभिनेता जेफ डेनियल ने बताया अराजनैतिक होने का अर्थ
According to Mohammed Agoumi, Delegate General Manager, Bank of Africa, the objective of the MoU is to strengthen cooperation in the financing, guaranteeing, and other financial mechanisms to support projects of interest of both the institutions.
The banks will also jointly explore funding support for Indian companies setting up operations in Morocco and Moroccan companies setting up operations in India as per their respective mandates.
To date, India Exim Bank has supported 64 Indian companies for setting up ventures in the MENA region, with a sanctioned amount of Rs 6,684 crore, in various sectors such as textiles, automotive, chemicals, and dyes, agro-processing, irrigation, renewable energy, construction, healthcare, EPC services, shipping, and mining, among others, a statement from India Exim Bank said. (IANS)
The entire world is currently being undermined by terrorism. A great many people don’t have the foggiest idea about the underlying foundations of this terrorism, that is, the one committed by ISIS and sisters. There are numerous in the news media who have been deceiving the general population by moving the blame to various things, hence concealing reality, which they are completely aware of.
Wahhabism was founded by Muhammed ibn Abdul-Wahhab. In the small town of Uyayna in Najd, the southern highland of Arabia’s interior, he was born in 1115 A.H./1703 A.D. and belonged to the tribe of Tamim. He was the man who created an odd translation of Islam which doesn’t respect the grave-destinations of any heavenly person, including that of the Prophet of Islam.
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Whabbis establish close to 8% of the whole population of the present Saudi Arabia, which is the only nation on the planet named after its ruling group.
Wahhabism is upheld, funded, promoted and advanced by the corrupt leaders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. These lawless rulers appreciate and enjoy the full help, protection and assurance of the Western powers all in all and that of the U.S. specifically. The latter help and protect these governments in return for keeping the oil market filled with cheap oil. They use them as tools to make what is classified “constructive chaos” so that “Israel” may remain the predominant force in the region. Israel and the U.S. bear the responsibility regarding the terrorism that is tormenting our reality nowadays, and this disease will bit by bit eat up the same people who planted it in both Syria and Iraq, just wait and watch.
Western societies aimlessly have faith in the news media which has for quite a long time been deceiving them, and it is extremely unlikely to change this, as usual. These societies are not known of the way that this media is overseen and coordinated by International Zionism, that the Jews presently have the high ground over the foreign policies of most Western governments, particularly the U.S. also, Europe. A portion of these governments are directly responsible for making terrorist organizations, for example, al-Qaeda having been made by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the U.S., and ISIS is only another face of this terrorist organization which is additionally upheld by the U.S. government despite the fact that the latter states that it is battling it while, in all reality, it is utilizing it as its tool to accomplish certain provincial destinations. Above this, it is guaranteeing that Israel remains the “superpower” in the Middle East. Those who play with fire will sooner or later be burnt by it,, and this is what is currently happening to the U.S. furthermore, Europe: They made “Israel” and are presently making terrorist organizations that serve their target of keeping this “Israel” protected and secure to the cost of the wellbeing and safety of the Arab nations, the world and their own selves. At the end of the day, they made the Frankenstein which they can no longer control it.
The Middle East, which until recently was sought mostly by investors in the oil and gas field, has become a very attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking to operate in other industries as well and one of the most appealing aspects of starting a business here is the taxation system.
Most Middle Eastern countries offer a low-tax regime, while others, such as Qatar, impose no corporate or personal income taxes. So, if you want to operate in the Middle East, setting up a business in Qatar can prove to be quite advantageous.
Below, you can read about other advantages offered by Middle Eastern countries in terms of taxation.
Middle Eastern countries allow for free repatriation of profits
Most countries in the Middle East provide for the free repatriation of profits earned by companies operating here. This is also the case of the UAE in which foreign investors can set up various types of companies. For example, starting a business in Dubai can mean free repatriation of profits if the owners are foreigners.
Most countries do not impose employment-related taxes
One of the struggles of business owners is to pay various employment-related taxes, contributions and insurances. This is not the case of many countries in the Middle East where there are no such taxes or where employment is taxed at very low rates. When combined with a cheaper workforce compared to European countries, states here will definitely become more attractive to investors from all over the world.
Wide networks of double tax treaties
Even if they impose a few or no taxes, many Middle Eastern states have signed double taxation agreements in order to help foreign business owners reduce the tax burden in their home countries. Also, when considering that these agreements follow the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development models on the disclosure of financial information, these countries become more appealing for those interested in onshore destinations with low corporate taxes.
Low VAT taxes
One of the recently introduced taxes by countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council is the value added tax. However, this tax is imposed at very low rates and many investors with companies here have obtained the support of governments in implementing the new regulations which provides for how quickly Middle Eastern countries can adapt to changes.
The Middle East is one of the most appealing parts of the world when it comes to taxation, however, it offers many other benefits apart from this aspect. The cheap workforce, the modern legislation and economic stability are also some of the reasons why foreign investors choose countries here for setting up businesses.