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Tillerson: US military not leaving Syria

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Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson(File Photo)

Washington, Jan 18: The US must remain both diplomatically and militarily engaged in Syria to protect its own national security interests, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

“Continued strategic threats to the US from not just the Islamic State and Al Qaeda persist, and this threat I am referring to principally is Iran,” Tillerson said on Wednesday, adding, “In short, Syria remains a source of severe strategic threats.”

Tillerson was speaking on the campus of Stanford University before an audience that included former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Condoleezza Rice, CNN reported.

He said President Donald Trump’s administration was implementing a new strategy on Syria that would achieve “key end states” for the carnage engulfing the country — which has left a half million people dead — and would ultimately lead to a political resolution without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad remaining in power.

The continued presence of the IS in Syria despite the loss of a majority of its territory there is necessary, Tillerson said, to avoid a repeat of the security vacuum that followed the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and the conditions that allowed the IS and other terrorist groups to flourish in the region.

“The IS presently has one foot in the grave, and by maintaining an American military presence in Syria until the full and complete defeat of ISIS is achieved, it will soon have two,” Tillerson said.

“We understand that some Americans are sceptical of continued involvement in Syria,” Tillerson said, but he argued such engagement was necessary to assure the IS “do not present a threat to the homeland and do not resurface in a new form”.

Similarly, Iranian influence inside Syria through Tehran’s use of proxy forces alongside its own military presence remains a reality that must be checked, Tillerson said.

“As a destabilized nation, and one bordering Israel, Syria presents an opportunity that Iran is all too eager to exploit,” he said.

“Assad’s continued military operations against his own citizens… have created a humanitarian crisis of millions of refugees and only add to the instability in Syria,” the Secretary said.

He reiterated US support for the UN-led process that envisions a unified and stable Syrian state without Assad in power and called on Russia to use its influence with Assad’s regime to reach that end.

IANS

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Prachanda faction expels Prime Minister Oli from party

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Discord and division continue inside the Nepal Communist Party, which has not split formally but has virtually fallen apart after Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli unilaterally decided to dissolve the House of Representatives on December 20 without the party’s consent.

Since then, the Nepal Communist Party is acting like two parties — one headed by Oli himself and the other led by former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal aka Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal. Both sides are running separate programmes across the country under the same banner as they await official recognition from the Election Commission.

Amid this row, the Prachanda-Nepal faction has taken disciplinary action against Oli.

A Standing Committee meeting of the faction held on Sunday decided to expel Oli from the party, its spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha told the media.

The dissident faction has alleged Oli breached the party discipline and is liable to expulsion from the party. It had earlier relieved him from the post of party Chairman.

According to Pampha Bhusal, leader of the dissident faction, Sunday’s meeting decided to expel Oli even from the general membership, accusing him of violating the party statutes.

“He (Oli) is not even an ordinary member of the party now,” Bhusal said.

The faction had earlier asked Oli to furnish, within three days, an explanation why not action should be not taken against him for anti-party activities.

The faction had handed over this notice to the Prime Minister’s residence. However, Oli did not respond to the letter. Sunday’s meeting also reviewed the protest programme and discussed a new protest plan.

The faction had taken to the streets against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, terming the move unconstitutional and undemocratic.

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Pak okays Russian vaccine for ’emergency use’

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The Sputnik V has become the third vaccine to be approved for emergency use in the country — the first one being the Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and the second one by Chinese state-owned firm Sinopharm. 

“In a meeting conducted by the registration board of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap), another vaccine has also been given EUA which was developed with the backing of Russian Develop­ment Investment Fund,” Dawn news reported on Sunday citing the official as saying. 
“Russia’s state-owned Sputnik-V has developed a double-dose vaccine, which is administered by syringes,” said the official. 

A local pharmaceutical AGP, he said, had been authorised as the sole importer and distributor of the Russian vaccine. 
The development comes as Pakistan’s overall coronavirus caseload has increased to 532,412 as of Sunday, while the death toll stood at 11,295.

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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in US over Uyghur tweet

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Twitter has locked the official account of China’s Embassy in the US over a controversial post that referred to Muslim Uyghur women as “baby-making machines” prior to government intervention.

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