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Iraq Government Still Need US Presence To Fight Islamic State Group– US General

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Iraq Government Still Need US Presence To Fight Islamic State Group– US General
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The US Middle East commander said Thursday that troops in Iraq will be cut to 2,500 on President Donald Trump’s order, but that Baghdad wants a continued US presence to fight the Islamic State group.

Central Command Commander General Kenneth McKenzie told a conference that the continuing US presence has successfully limited the activities of Iran and the Islamic State.

Iran has recently curtailed attacks, McKenzie said, “based on the hope that we would be asked to leave Iraq through the government of Iraq’s political processes.”

However, he said, “the government of Iraq has clearly indicated it wants to maintain its partnership with the United States and coalition forces as we continue to finish the fight against ISIS.”

Speaking to an online conference held by the National Council on US-Arab Relations, McKenzie cited estimates that the Islamic State still has a body of 10,000 supporters in the Iraq-Syria region and remains a real threat.

“The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces has allowed has allowed the United States to reduce force posture in Iraq,” he said.

But US and coalition forces have to be there to help prevent Islamic State from reconstituting as a cohesive group able to plot major attacks, he said.

“When you’re running for your life up and down the Euphrates River Valley, listening to the noise of an armed MQ-9 drone overhead, it’s hard to think about conducting attack planning against Detroit.”

McKenzie said the US presence and measured retaliations had also successfully deterred Iran from persisting in attacks on Gulf shipping and limited its proxy attacks in Iraq.

“Today I believe Iran has been largely deterred because the regime now understands we possess both the capability and the will to respond,” he said.

AFP


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U.N. chief calls for Afghan ceasefire and inclusive peace

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U.N. chief calls for Afghan ceasefire and inclusive peace
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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Tuesday for an “immediate, unconditional ceasefire” in Afghanistan to create a conducive environment for Doha peace talks with the Taliban.

“An inclusive process, in which women, young people and victims of conflict are meaningfully represented, offers the best hope of sustainable peace,” Guterres told an Afghanistan conference in Geneva. “Progress toward peace will contribute to the development of the entire region, and is a vital step towards the safe, orderly and dignified return of millions of displaced Afghans.”

REUTERS


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US imposes $15,000 Visa bond for visitors from 15 African countries

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US imposes $15,000 Visa bond for visitors from 15 African countries
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Citizens of 15 African countries will have to post bonds of up to $15,000 ( £11,000) to visit the US, according to a new temporary travel rule which comes into effect on 24 December.

The six-month pilot program – which targets visitor and business visas – will act as a deterrence to those who overstay their visas, the US state department said.

Outgoing President Donald Trump, who lost a re-election bid earlier this month, made restricting immigration a central part of his four-year term in office.

President-elect Joe Biden, a Democrat, has pledged to reverse many of the Republican president’s immigration policies, but untangling hundreds of changes could take months or years.

The visa bond rule targets countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher in 2019 and will now be required to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000.

While those nations had higher rates of overstays, they sent relatively few travellers to the US, Reuters news agency reports.

The African countries affected are Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde, Burundi.


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At last Trump Gives-In Power Transition To Biden

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At last Trump Gives-In Power Transition To Biden
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After two weeks of grandstanding, U.S. President Donald Trump has finally accepted to allow a transition of power to his potential successor, Joe Biden.

In a Monday evening tweet, Trump said he had recommended that the General Services Administration (GSA) “do what needs to be done” in that regard. The president’s tweet came amid reports by local media that the GSA has determined Biden to be the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

GSA Administrator, Emily Murphy, sent Biden a letter earlier on Monday to inform him that his transition could now begin. ABC News quoted an unnamed official of the Biden transition team as confirming that the former Vice President had received the letter. With this, the president-elect’s transition team can now access government resources, including funds, for a smooth transition of power.

The GSA is a federal agency responsible for enabling the transition of power from one administration to another, and it controls the funds for the process. By law, the head of the agency must first “ascertain” the winner of a presidential election before setting the transition ball rolling.

But with Trump’s refusal to concede, the GSA administrator, who was appointed by the president in 2017, had held back from starting the process. Murphy had come under fire from Democrats and other critics, who accused her of allowing political influence to interfere in the agency’s independence.

Defending her decision in the letter to Biden, the GSA head denied being influenced by the White House or official of the executive branch of government “I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” she said.

In his tweet, Trump said he advised the agency to start the process because he did not want Murphy, her family and employees of the GSA to continue to suffer harassment and abuse.

“I want to thank Emily Murphy at GSA for her steadfast dedication and loyalty to our Country. “She has been harassed, threatened, and abused – and I do not want to see this happen to her, her family, or employees of GSA”, Trump said. The president, who is in court challenging the election results in key battleground states, said his case would continue. “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”

(NAN)


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