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BY MAJOR GENERAL S.B. ASTHANA
President Donald Trump’s announcement that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State(IS) commander, died during a US military operation in Syria, later confirmed by ISIS itself, was welcome news for all fighting terrorism or suffering from it in any part of the world. This was followed by the death of their spokesperson and arrest of his sister and wife by Turkey. After the decimation of IS caliphate, IS continues to exist in small modules in many parts of the world, mainly in West Asia, but the loss of its undisputed leader, who inspired many youth globally towards radicalisation as never before, during his peak performance days, will not be easy to fulfil.
He revolutionised the art of extending the terror network through the internet, made IS the richest terror group in the world with a caliphate to govern through Sharia laws and revived sex slavery. It’s a major setback to the IS and its affiliated terror groups but long overdue good news for those who suffered its brutality, like Yezidi women.
The idea of IS does not end with the death of its leader, who stands replaced by Ibrahim al Hashemi al Qurayshi from Prophet Mohammad’s lineage (qualified to become caliph) and has taken a vow to avenge Baghdadi’s death. There being no change in the overall aim and ideology of IS, it will manage to regroup with a smaller fund flow and area of influence and wait for an opportunity to re-emerge; hence the global fight against IS has to continue.
What does it mean for Regional Terror Groups?
The US has given a strong message to terrorists but its declared withdrawal from Syria is untimely; hence the Middle-East needs a fresh look from the strategic perspective. Turkey cross-border offensive on October 9 against the Kurdish YPG militia, whose fighters made up the bulk of the SDF controlling IS, is a game spoiler in fight against IS. Turkey’s double game with terrorists is marred with helping IS and treating Kurds as terrorists as they demand a homeland. Its desire to invade Syria and destroy Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s supporters made it an ally of US, but the US is not keen on decimation of Kurds, who will be left with no choice but to commence terrorist activities against Turkey.
The temporary five days’ truce, sanctions against Turkey could buy some time, but is unlikely to change Erdogan’s intent as he seems to have decided to go the Wahhabi way. It does give some extra lifeline to the IS, which is going to get dispersed to other areas, in addition to some existing ones like Afghanistan. The US withdrawal also cedes this strategic space in Syria to the forces loyal to Assad and Russia, something which the US was not very keen to concede till a short while ago as it was not in the best interest of Israel. This strategic equation does not change the
terror potential of Hamas appreciably.
The internal political disturbance in Lebanon puts the Hezbollah in a tight spot. The current internal political turbulence in Iraq is helpful for reorganisation of IS as it dampens the Shia spirit which indirectly helps Sunni terror groups. The recent strategic clash between Iran and Saudi Arabia triggered by a drone attack on Saudi’s oil
establishment followed by an attack on an Iran oil tanker is also a recipe for refuelling of the Shia-Sunni terror competition in West Asia. After the US walked out of JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) renewed and clamped additional sanctions on Iran which the European Union could not prevent, Iran has also climbed the escalation ladder by announcing to fill gas in over 1,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium further, which it was holding out due to the deal.
This is another dangerous spiral in the region to increase the insecurity of Saudi Arabia and may result in further push to Sunni cause. These developments have blurred the definition of victim and oppressor. The internal turbulence of West Asia, therefore, is creating an environment for breeding terrorists. After IS suffered these reverses it has opened opportunities and ignited some competition for other terror groups like Taliban and al Qaeda, to strive to gain the influence they lost to ISIS earlier.
This has increased their quest to grab more power and money, a bulk of which comes from coercion globally, prove their terror potential to the target population and governments to get more attention, followers, logistics and other resources. It is, however, noteworthy that a number of terror organizations having allegiance to IS have still not changed their allegiance, indicating that the demise of IS may not be on the cards so soon and the group is still not out of competition.
What does it mean for Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) Region?
Afghanistan continues to face aggressive and coordinated attacks by ISIS’s branch in the region, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) and the Afghan Taliban, including the affiliated Haqqani Network (HQN). Afghan Taliban seems to have grown much stronger for the fact that it controls more territory in Afghanistan than what it controlled when US forces marched in 19 years back. The fact that all world powers talked to them for peace (to fulfil their respective interests) indicate the blackmailing potential of Taliban.
Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and remaining US forces have not been able to control their terror strikes despite their best efforts, which are likely to increase if US chooses to withdraw completely. I do visualise some more efforts of global powers for talks to Taliban in the near future. Although al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan was degraded earlier by multinational forces, remnants of al-Qaeda’s global leadership, as well as its regional affiliate — al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) — continue to operate from remote locations in the region have a reason to cheer Baghdadi’s death.
Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of global terrorism playing host to maximum UN designated terrorist organisations and terrorists in the world, a large number of them have indicated allegiance to IS. Pakistani military counter-terrorism operations are more of ethnic cleansing acts against Pashtuns and Baluchis directed against groups which conducted attacks within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Pakistan Army and ISI supports externally focused groups such as Lashkar e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continue to train, organize, and fundraise in Pakistan with a narrative of pseudo Islamic Jihad.
The Pakistani Army does not restrict the Afghan Taliban and HQN from operating in Pakistan and threatening US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, despite being placed on the “grey list” continuously to date, since June, 2018. The support of Pakistan to Sunni terror groups is well known and IS is no exception. The increasing radicalisation of establishments in Pakistan, and the conglomeration of terrorist groups in the Af-Pak Region is a dangerous sign as it indicates a caliphate in the making, far more dangerous than the ISIS caliphate.
What does it mean for South Asia?
After the declaration of the caliphate, the newly named Caliph, al-Baghdadi, while addressing the jihadists the world over explicitly mentioned China and India as one of the prime targets of the ISIS amongst many others and there are no signs of change in that narrative. ISIS and other militant groups are attempting to spread their ideology to countries that have Muslim population, and where there is a chance to reach out to dissatisfied youth.
Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and ISIS have together claimed responsibility for over 40 attacks in Bangladesh since 2015. The government in Bangladesh continues to battle terrorism with strict anti- terrorism Act in place. However, terrorists do manage to operate there with backing from ISI, Pakistan. Terrorist organizations are using internet and social media to spread their ideologies and solicit followers globally, including in South Asia, and many terrorists have been featured in multiple publications, videos, and websites associated with ISIS and AQIS.
Terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka and rapid radicalisation in Maldives are some more examples of IS mastered methodologies to spread terror, which is likely to continue. India having the second largest Muslim population in the world is an obvious target for IS. India is a tolerant and pluralist society with a mix of Shias and Sunnis, which has absorbed all religious faiths. Hence, the rate of penetration of radicalisation has been extremely low, although some individuals have been attracted to it.
Many Lone Wolf attacks in Europe, like the suicidal car crash attack in Westminster in London on March 22, 2017, are a possibility in India as well, in future, for which it needs to be prepared. The incidents like the explosion in the Bhopal-Ujjain Express by a terror suspect, Mohammad Saifurullah alias Ali, allegedly a member of the ISIS(K) module, on March 7, 2017 injuring 10 passengers, occasional display of IS flags in the Kashmir Valley, busting of few IS modules in South India by the National Investigative Agency (NIA), announce the arrival of IS in India. These incidents need to be viewed in consonance with the global scene, wherein Daesh is looking for new hosts after decimation of their caliphate.
Recent Trends in Terrorism
The peaceful coexistence of IS, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and so many terror groups in Pakistan indicates that they are also collaborating and economising on certain activities and efforts like intelligence sharing, training camps, arms transfers, irregular trade and related activities on mutual benefit basis. Hence, it is increasingly difficult to use one against the other, despite intense competition amongst some of them. They are generally keen to expand their terror industry under pseudo religious cause of avenging perceived atrocities to muslims and continue to fight security forces trying to disturb their design. Their fight against each other is rarely seen in recent times.
The other interesting trend, especially in Pakistan, is that whenever a terrorist organisation is banned globally, it changes its name, registers as social welfare organisation, and continues terrorist activities as usual. A very well organized media and cyber campaign by the IS by incorporating technologically savvy cadres from western countries affecting some Indian youth is still on. Some media news that it had gained access to fissile material and suspected access to chemical weapons like Sarin gas, indicates that its potential for global nuisance is far from being over.
The same is being tried by other terror groups as well. To fight the global war on terror the world community will have to shun double gaming, individual country interest over global safety, the concept of good and bad terrorist and strict sanctions on terror sponsoring countries because terrorism cannot flourish without financial and logistics support. (IANS)
London (CNN)- At five o'clock in the morning, the esteemed 86-year-old astrophysicist Jim Peebles was woken suddenly by the telephone ringing."In previous experience, the only phone calls at that time of night are bad news," he said. This one was great news. "The opening sentence from the caller was: 'The Nobel committee has voted to award you the Nobel Prize in Physics. Do you accept?'" Peebles recalled. The wording threw him. Who wouldn't accept a Nobel Prize? "You know the Bob Dylan fiasco?" he said during a phone interview with CNN. "That might have put the wind up them."The "fiasco" Peebles mentions refers to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was controversially given to an utterly unimpressed Dylan.Aside from being ever-presents on college campuses in the 1960s, little connects Peebles, an expert in theoretical cosmology, with Dylan. But one of the starkest contrasts might lie in their reactions to winning a Nobel -- and the songwriter is far from the only laureate whose crowning turned out to be an awkward affair.
The five committees are notoriously secretive, fiercely shielding their choices from the outside world -- including the laureates themselves, who are told of their victories just minutes before they are announced to the public.
Jim Peebles speaking at the Nobel Prize banquet in 2019 Image credit: CNN
That tight-lipped mantra can lead to some heartening surprises, as it did for Benjamin List -- the co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry -- who was having coffee with his wife when he received the news.
"Sweden appears on my phone, and I look at her, she looks at me and I run out of the coffee shop to the street ... you know, that was amazing. It was very special. I will never forget," he told reporters on Wednesday after his victory was announced.It can also be far less celebratory. "I was lying in bed, and my wife woke up and heard my phone buzzing. And she yelled at me because my phone was waking her up," David MacMillan, who shared the prize with List, told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday."100% [I] missed the call. Classic Scottish person. I [didn't] believe this is happening, so I went back to bed," he added -- likely the most relatable sentence ever uttered by an expert in chiral imidazolidinone catalysts.
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And for some, the sudden ascension to Nobel laureate is an unwanted intrusion altogether. "Oh Christ," British-Zimbabwean author Doris Lessing said when reporters arrived outside her house to inform her she had won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. "I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks of some kind. "It's a wonderful thing," Reinhard Genzel, an astrophysicist who won last year's Nobel Prize in Physics, told CNN of his win and the months since. "But it's a chore as well."
What it's like to win a Nobel PrizeFew Nobel winners can honestly say their lives weren't changed when they received the phone call.As long as they believe it, that is. "These days you get these cold calls, and I thought this is another one of them," Abdulrazak Gurnah, the winner of this year's literature prize, told the BBC on Thursday."This guy said, 'Hello, you have won the Nobel Prize for Literature,' And I said, 'come on, get out of here. Leave me alone,'" Gurnah said. "He talked me out of that, and gradually persuaded me."Winners often can't be contacted at all, leaving them to find out about their wins from the news, their family, or even their next-door neighbors.
Nobel Peace Prize winners Ressa and Muratov Image source: CNNEconomist Paul Milgrom was woken in the middle of the night in California by his colleague Robert Wilson banging on his front door. "Paul, it's Bob Wilson. You've won the Nobel Prize," he shouted into the intercom. "Yeah, I have? Wow," an utterly confused Milgrom responded, in an exchange captured by a doorbell camera.
Genzel's phone call came while he was in a Zoom meeting with colleagues last October. "I had absolutely no inkling," he said. "I thought, my God ... obviously this is a fantasy."
The committee's secretary told him he "couldn't say anything for 15 or 20 minutes," so Genzel tried his best to keep the news to himself. "I walked over to our meeting room ... (my colleagues) told me afterwards I was stumbling in there, slightly gazed, telling them to switch on the TV," he said.Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel winner at 17, was midway through a chemistry lesson at a school in Birmingham, England, when a teacher interrupted to tell her she had won, she told Reuters.She later told Vogue that she modestly left the achievement off her university applications, because she "felt a bit embarrassed." But there are occasions, too, where the winner isn't quite as thrilled as the Nobel committee might imagine.
Dylan and Ernest Hemingway both skipped the Nobels' annual banquet; the latter made a point of telling the Swedish Academy that he had "no facility for speech making and no command of oratory." But arguably it was Lessing who had the most memorable reaction. She learned of her win as she stepped out of a taxi on the way back from the grocery store. "Have you heard the news? You've won the Nobel Prize for Literature!" an enthusiastic reporter told her. Her eyes rolled back in her head before the journalist had even finished his sentence. Lessing -- accompanied by a male acquaintance who stood next to her, bemused, his arm in a sling and a single artichoke in his hand -- was clearly more interested in collecting her shopping than talking to the world's media.
Also read: Abdulrazak Gurnah- The New Nobel Laureate
Asked how she felt, she expressed little enthusiasm: "Look, I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one."
"Am I supposed to get excited, or elated, or what?" she remarked. "One can't get more excited than one gets, you know?"
'I was treated like a rock star'
As soon as Genzel's win was announced last year, his face was on televisions around the world. The announcement of a Nobel Prize winner makes the front pages of newspapers and websites almost everywhere, throwing a sudden spotlight on little-known scientists and their complex research. "Once the announcement is made, you lose your identity within half an hour," Genzel said. "The telephone rings all the time. "Peebles had a similar experience just minutes after his early morning phone call. "When I returned to bed my wife said, 'What was that about?' I said 'Nobel Prize,' and she said: Oh God." Within minutes, the couple had a photographer outside their door. Genzel suddenly found himself answering questions about politics on late-night German TV, angering some of his friends with his responses. Peebles, meanwhile, spent much of the day looking through emails from every corner of the world: "Please come visit us, please read my manuscript..."
Reinhard Genzel posing with his medal Image source: CNN
"It's one thing to say that the Nobel Prizes attract attention. It's another to experience it," he said. Sometimes, personal relationships change. "There is of course a lot of envy, from some colleagues -- many people who are close to me in the same field might very well say, 'Why did he get it?'" said Genzel. But before the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered plans for two years in a row, winners were also treated to a gala in Stockholm. "I was treated like a rock star ... I experienced what I expect rock stars to experience," Peebles said of his banquet in 2019. "It's a wonderful honor." "My attache had an almost endless list of things to do," he added. "'Now you must meet these influential people. Now you must go to a news conference. Now we will have dinner with some important people. And on and on.' "Genzel missed out on the festivities last year, but he enjoyed a low-key affair in Germany. "The governor of Bavaria offered us his residence, (and) we had a fairly nice event with the Swedish ambassador," he said. Two years on, CNN asked Peebles whether his email inbox has finally receded to pre-Nobel volumes. "I'd have to look at the data on that," he responded, ever the empiricist. But for both men and many other laureates, the most exciting part of the Nobel experience is simply that it gets people talking about science and culture.
"I find it almost a necessity to tell the public at large that there is truth, there is absolute truth," Genzel said. "What I hope is understood is the importance of the Nobel Prize in making people aware of the importance of curiosity-driven science or arts," he said. "I think it must be unique."
(This article is originally written by Bob Picheta)
Keywords: Nobel Prize, Reactions, Laureates
Married Hindu women are recognised by a red streak of vermillion in the middle of their foreheads. This is traditionally called 'sindoor', which is derived from the Sanskrit word sindura, meaning 'red lead.'. Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum.
Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum. Image source: Photo by Gayathri Malhotra on Unsplash
The origin of the practise of wearing sindoor is ambiguous, but historical records from the Harappan civilisation show that women wore sindoor as a sign of being married. Today's generation considers the wearing of sindoor an outdated and patriarchal ritual. However, there is still a large population of women who uphold the ritual of adorning their foreheads with vermilion every day.
Sindoor implies the longevity of a woman's marriage to her husband in the Hindu tradition. The longer the streak, the longer her husband's life is believed to be. Women wear it for the first time on their wedding day, when the husband applies it during the ceremony. As long as he remains alive, the red streak that fills the woman's maang, or hair partition, symbolises her fruitful married life.
When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. Image credit: Photo by Amish Thakkar on Unsplash
The components of the red powder are believed to improve the sexual energy of the woman. When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. The mixture that she wears on her head controls her blood pressure and activates her sexual drive.
These days, feminists do not take very lightly to the practice of wearing sindoor, as they view it as a sign of patriarchal dominance. They do not like being branded as 'belonging to a man'. They prefer to wear it as a style statement because it enhances beauty. Fashion designers have recently commissioned models to sport sindoor on the runway. New age feminists are making bids to allow widows and single women to adorn their foreheads with the vermilion streak.
Keywords: Sindoor, Marriage, Symbol, Women, Patriarchy
Actress Urvashi Rautela has recently announced the name of her next film which is titled 'Dil Hai Gray'. It's a Hindi remake of Tamil film 'Thiruttu Payale 2'. Urvashi Rautela will be seen alongside Vineet Kumar Singh and Akshay Oberoi.
Urvashi shares: "I am excited to announce the title of my next film 'Dil Hai Gray' on the auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami. The film is very close to my heart and it was lovely working with director Susi Ganeshan sir, producer M Ramesh Reddy sir, and my co-stars Vineet Kumar Singh and Akshay Oberoi. "
"The film has created a massive response in the south industry and I am very positive about the story that it will be also be loved by the audience here. I hope my fans would bless us with their love and support. Super excited to watch my film on the big screen after a long time," she concludes. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: urvashi rautela, movies, bollywood, south, remake, film