Volume 2, Number 5
Rabi` al-Thani, 1418/September, 1997

India and Pakistan Dispute over Kashmir

NEW DELHI - On August 26th India spurned a U.S. proposal to mediate an end to the Kashmir border dispute with Pakistan, stating that differences with Islamabad should be resolved by talks between the two countries without outside intervention." They rejected out-of-hand any possibility of a third-party involvement in settling the brewing border clash.

Indian and Pakistan continue to fire at each other's troops over a week of hostilities, though casualties were relatively light according to reports from both sides.

Pakistan wants Kashmiris to decide in a U.N.-mandated referendum whether they wish to join Pakistan or India. India and Pakistan have fought two of three wars since their common independence from Great Britain in 1947over Kashmir. Diplomats are scheduled to meet in mid-September in New Delhi for further peace talks.

Turkey Refuses to Recognise Top Islamic Degrees

ANKARA - Secular Turkey has withdrawn recognition of degrees issued by Cairo’s al-Azhar University, Islam’s senior center of learning, Turkish education officials said on August 26th. "Its educational standards were insufficient," a spokesman for Turkey’s Supreme Educational Board claimed.

Turkish television recently highlighted what it said were verbal attacks on Turkey’s secularist founder Kemal Ataturk by Arab students at

al-Azhar, the leading centre for studying orthodox Ahl as-Sunna Islam. It is likely that the withdrawal of recognition for al-Azhar was intentional retaliation for these verbal attacks.

The powerbase of Turkey’s government, backed by the resolutely secular, Kemalist-style military, was severely eroded when Islamists came to power under the leadership of Dr. Necmettin Erbakan of the now-banned Refah Party. The government then instituted a dress-code for colleges and universities which prohibits wearing of Islamic traditional dress, including head-coverings, for both women and men. Recently, a large number of Imam-khatib training schools have been shut down, as the government tries to shore up its education in secondary schools.

Thirty Killed in Somalia Fighting

MOGADISHU - Some 30 militiamen were killed in fighting between rival forces in the Bakol region of southwest Somalia, radio reports from the area said August 15th.

Residents of Bakol said in radio contact with Mogadishu the fighting pitted militiamen loyal to south Mogadishu leader Hussein Aideed against the rebel Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) on Thursday. The reports spoke of at least 12 wounded in the clashes. The RRA has mounted intermittent hit-and-run attacks against Aideed's forces since they seized the southern town of Baidoa in September 1995.

Somalia has had no true government since the overthrow of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Aideed was elected president last year by supporters but rival faction leaders have rejected the move and his administration.

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