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6 January 2020

IRAQI PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION TO END FOREIGN TROOP PRESENCE 

Iraq's parliament called on Sunday for U.S. and other foreign military 
forces to leave amid a growing backlash against the U.S. killing of a top 
Iranian military commander that has heightened fears of a wider Middle East 
conflict. 
In a war of words between Iran and the United States Secretary of State Mike 
Pompeo said Washington would target any Iranian decision-makers it chose if 
there were further attacks on U.S. interests by Iranian forces or their 
proxies. 
As Washington and Tehran, longtime foes, assailed each other with threats 
and counter-threats, the European Union, Britain and Oman urged them to make 
diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis. 
The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling on the government to work 
to end all foreign troop presence, reflecting the concern of many in Iraq 
that the strike could engulf them in a major war between two bigger powers 
long at odds in Iraq and across the region. 
"The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on 
Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, air space or water for any 
reason," it said. 


IRAN ABANDONS NUCLEAR DEAL LIMITS AFTER US KILLS GENERAL 

Iran said on Sunday it would no longer abide by any of the limits of its 
unraveling 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after a U.S. airstrike killed 
a top Iranian general in Baghdad, abandoning the accord's key provisions 
that block Tehran from having enough material to build an atomic weapon. 
Iran insisted in a state television broadcast it remained open to 
negotiations with European partners, who so far have been unable to offer 
Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite U.S. sanctions. It also 
didn't back off of earlier promises that it wouldn't seek a nuclear weapon. 
The announcement came Sunday night after another Iranian official said it 
would consider taking even-harsher steps over the U.S. killing of Gen. 
Qassem Soleimani on Friday. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the 
streets Sunday in Iran to walk alongside a casket carrying the remains of 
Mr. Soleimani, the former leader of its expeditionary Quds Force that 
organizes Tehran's proxy forces in the wider Mideast. 
Iran's state TV cited a statement by President Hassan Rouhani's 
administration saying the country will not observe limitations on its 
enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research 
and development in its nuclear activities. 
"The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has in a statement announced 
its fifth and final step in reducing Iran's commitments under the JCPOA," a 
state TV broadcaster said, using an acronym for the deal. "The Islamic 
Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations." 
It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its 
program. 


AFTER AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN SAYS IT WILL NOT ALLOW ITS SOIL TO BE USED 
AGAINST ANYONE 

Pakistan said on Sunday that it will not allow its soil to be used against 
anyone, amidst raging tensions between Iran and the US after the killing of 
top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in an American drone strike 
in Iraq. 
"We will not allow our soil to be used against anyone," Army spokesman Maj 
Gen Asif Ghafoor was quoted as saying by the ARY News. 
"Pakistan will not be party to anyone or anything but will be a partner of 
peace and peace alone," he said quoting Prime Minister Imran Khan. 
His remarks came two days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday said 
that Afghanistan's soil will not be used against any nations as per a 
Bilateral Security Agreement signed between Washington and Kabul in 2014. 
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan share border with Iran, which has vowed to 
avenge the killing of its top general. US President Donald Trump has warned 
Iran that he has identified 52 possible targets in the country and will hit 
it harder than ever before if Tehran carries out any attack against America 
to avenge the killing of Soleimani. 


PAKISTANI ARMY MUST STOP USING TERROR GROUPS AS INSTRUMENTS OF FOREIGN 
POLICY: PAKISTANI DISSIDENTS 

A group of dissident Pakistanis has expressed deep disappointment over 
continuous military intervention and abridgement of democratic freedoms in 
Pakistan and called on mainstream parties to stand up for civilian 
supremacy, constitutional governance, and rule of law in the country. 
The group also demanded that the Pakistan military must put an end to the 
continuing use of extremist militant groups as instruments of foreign and 
domestic policy and for that matter treating the western border of the 
country as the strategic backyard of Pakistan. 
Under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights 
(SAATH) Forum, the group that includes Pakistan's former envoy to the US 
Hussain Haqqani, said the security agencies must close "torture cells and 
black sites", known as internment centres, and either bring cases against 
thousands of detainees before the regular courts of law to stand trial or 
release them unconditionally. 
"We are also disappointed in Pakistan's mainstream political parties and 
their willingness to continuously cede space to military intervention and 
abridgement of democratic freedoms. These parties must practice internal 
democracy and acknowledge that democracy is not just seeking office through 
elections, the SAATH said in a resolution. 
"Pakistan's mainstream political parties must stand up for civilian 
supremacy, constitutional governance, and rule of law and not be content 
with power of patronage granted to them through manipulated elections, it 
said. 
The dissident members participated in a fourth edition of the SAATH 
conference here and also passed the resolution calling for an end to 
military oppression in Balochistan. 
"The security agencies must put an end to enforced disappearances and 
account for thousands of missing persons and those extra-judicially killed. 
To that end, there is a dire need for the formation of a Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission to bring closure to the victims of state-sponsored 
oppression, the resolution said. 


'SERIOUS' CYBER ATTACK HITS AUSTRIAN MINISTRY 

Austria's foreign ministry has been targeted by a "serious cyber attack", 
officials said, warning another country could be responsible. 
The attack, which began Saturday, was continuing on Sunday and "experts say 
it could last several days," a foreign ministry spokesman told AFP. 
The interior and foreign ministries issued a statement about the attack 
which started shortly before 11.00 pm (2200 GMT) on Saturday. 
"Due to the gravity and nature of the attack, it cannot be excluded that it 
is a targeted attack by a state actor," the statement said. "In the past, 
other European countries have been the target of similar attacks. Immediate 
measures have been taken and a "coordination committee" set up, the 
statement said. 
The German government's IT network was hit by a cyber attack in 2018. 


SINGAPORE REPORTS FIRST SUSPECTED PNEUMONIA CASE LINKED TO WUHAN 

Singapore reported its first suspected case of pneumonia that's possibly 
linked to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where there's an ongoing 
outbreak of a mysterious lung infection. 
The patient, a three-year-old girl with a travel history to Wuhan, is in 
stable condition and has been hospitalized for further assessment and 
treatment, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Saturday. She has 
been isolated as a precautionary measure. 
Preliminary tests showed that the case is positive for Respiratory Syncytial 
Virus, a common cause for childhood pneumonia. 
The World Health Organization is monitoring the situation in Wuhan and is in 
active communication with its counterparts in China, where an investigation 
is underway to determine the cause of the outbreak. As of Friday, 44 people 
had been diagnosed with pneumonia, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission 
said. 
Some of the infected worked at a fresh seafood and produce market in the 
city. The girl in the suspected case in Singapore had not visited the Huanan 
seafood wholesale market associated with the cluster, according to the 
health ministry. 
Singapore implemented temperature screening at Changi Airport from Jan. 3 
for all travelers arriving from Wuhan.     


AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DEPLOYS ARMY RESERVISTS, THIRD NAVY SHIP TO SUPPORT 
FIREFIGHTERS 

The Australian government said on Saturday that up to 3,000 army reservists 
would be deployed to help communities hit by spreading wildfires and a third 
navy ship had been readied to support evacuations from coastal towns. 
It is the first time there has been a compulsory call out of reserve 
brigades in Australia, underlining the scale of the emergency. They will 
help deliver supplies to isolated communities, evacuate people in need, and 
assist in reopening roads and preparing fire breaks to contain the blazes. 
"The scale of the fires is stretching resources on the ground and there are 
clearly communities that need additional help," Prime Minister Scott 
Morrison said on Saturday. 
Managing bushfires is the responsibility of state governments and fire 
services, but the unprecedented scale of the fire season demanded a national 
response, Morrison said. 
He added that defence force bases would provide temporary accommodation, 
defence helicopters and planes would help with logistic support and 
evacuations, and A$20 million ($14 million) would be spent to lease four 
fire-fighting planes to deal with the bushfire crisis. 
The HMAS Adelaide, the Navy's largest amphibious ship, will sail from Sydney 
on Saturday to support the evacuation of coastal populations near the border 
of the states of New South Wales and Victoria, Morrison said. 
"The Adelaide is fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid, is 
able to operate helicopters, with 400 crew, including medical staff, as well 
as 300 tonnes of emergency relief supplies," Morrison said. 
The MV Sycamore and the HMAS Choules navy ships have already started to 
evacuate thousands from the coastal town of Mallacoota in southeastern 
Australia. 

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