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Iran ‘Threat’: US orders new troops to ME!

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US MILITARY

WASHINGTON: The United States announced Friday it was deploying 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East in response to what the Pentagon called a “campaign” of recent attacks approved by Iran’s top leadership.
The escalation of the US military presence follows a decision in early May to send an aircraft carrier strike force and B-52 bombers in a show of force against what Washington’s leaders believed was an imminent Iranian plan to attack US assets.
And it comes as the Trump administration is planning to bypass congressional restrictions to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a close US ally and Iran’s arch-enemy in the region.
“This is a prudent response to credible threats from Iran,” said acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
President Donald Trump, who approved the deployment, called it “protective.”
“We want to have protection in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters as he prepared to set off on a trip to Japan.
“We’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective,” Trump added. “It’ll be about 1,500 people.”
The new deployment includes reconnaissance aircraft, fighter jets, and engineers. Six hundred of the personnel belong to a Patriot missile defense battalion that had its deployment in the region extended.
Pentagon officials said the move was necessary after multiple threatening actions and several small-in-scope attacks in May by Iranian forces, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and “proxy” forces.
Those include a rocket launched into the Green Zone in Baghdad, explosive devices that damaged four tankers in Fujairah near the entrance to the Gulf, and a Houthi drone attack against a Saudi oil installation.
The initial threat came at the beginning of May, according to Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.
The US caught the IRGC attempting to covertly deploy “modified dhows capable of launching cruise missiles,” he said, referring to small traditional boats.
“We view this as a campaign,” Gilday told reporters.
The moves “are all part of a dangerous and escalatory strategy by Iran to threaten global trade and to destabilize the region.”
“We believe with a high degree of confidence that this stems back to the leadership of Iran at the highest levels, and that all of the attacks… have been attributed to Iran through their proxies or their forces,” Gilday said, citing still-secret US intelligence.
US officials said the aim was both to extend greater protection to the 70,000 US forces deployed in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and to deliver a message to Iran to refrain from attacks.
“We think that through a combination of a very measured deployment of assets as well as public messaging, we are again trying to underscore that we are not seeking hostilities with Iran,” he said.
Gilday said the US moves have had some impact. When Washington first learned of Tehran’s alleged intent to launch attacks, it delivered a stern warning to Tehran “within hours” through an unnamed third party.
Since then, the threat of the missile-bearing dhows appears to have subsided.
However, the Trump administration continues to draw criticism that it has not clearly shown the need for an escalation.
Members of Congress were also angered that Trump was overriding their block on delivery of lethal weapons to the Saudis.
“More tactics with absolutely no strategy,” tweeted Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.
“All that is happening now is escalatory move after escalatory move. Trump has ZERO plan for how this ends, and that should scare the hell out of everyone.”
But Pentagon officials stressed that the US does not seek war with Iran.
“We do not see these additional capabilities as encouraging hostilities. We see them as defensive in nature,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Katie Wheelbarger.
“Our policy remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table to encourage a comprehensive deal that addresses the range of their destabilizing behavior in the region.”

 

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Lt Gen Faiz Hameed is new DG ISI

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DG ISI

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army has appointed Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed as new Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), ISPR said.

Gen. Hameed will be replacing Lt-Gen Asim Munir, who has now been posted as the Corps Commander Gujranwala, according to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), media wing of the army.

Gen. Hameed is from the Baloch Regiment. He was in-charge of the internal security wing at the ISI. He has commanded a division in Pano Aqil.

Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been appointed as Adjutant General of Pakistan Army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) while Lieutenant General Aamir Abbasi has been named as Quarter Master at GHQ.

Lieutenant General Moazzam Abbas has been named Engineer-In-Chief at GHQ, said ISPR.

Earlier in April, the Pakistan Army had announced a number of high-level appointments and transfers in its ranks.

 

 

 

 

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Kartarpur Corridor to be completed on time: Khusro

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Khusro Bakhtiaar

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar Friday said the government would timely complete the Kartapur Corridor to provide easy access to Sikh devotees besides promoting religious tourism.

He was chairing a meeting on development of Gurdwara Kartarpur Corridor here. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan, Secretary Religious Affairs, Director General FWO Maj Gen Inam Haider Malik, Members Planning Commission, Commissioner Gujranwala, representatives from NESPAK and high level officials of the ministry were present during the occasion.

The minister said the prime minister had performed ground breaking of the Corridor on November 28, 2018 and will inaugurate the Corridor in the same month this year.

He said the incumbent government took a major initiative last year by announcing opening of Kartarpur Corridor to provide access to Sikh devotees to Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the request of Navjot Singh Sidhu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turkey hits out at Moody’s after credit rating cut

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Moodys

ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday lambasted Moody’s ratings agency after it cut Ankara’s credit rating further into junk territory, saying the downgrade raised concerns over the institution’s “objectivity and impartiality”.
The agency downgraded the long-term debt rating to B1 from Ba3 and said it maintained the negative outlook for Turkey, in a statement late Friday.
Although the country had a “large, diverse economy” and government debt was low, Moody’s said this was outweighed increasingly by “continued erosion in institutional strength and policy effectiveness on investor confidence”.
But the Turkish treasury and finance ministry said the move was “incompatible with the Turkish economy’s fundamental indicators”.
“As a result, this raises questions over the objectivity and impartiality of the body’s analyses,” the ministry added in a statement.
It pointed to rising tourism revenues, falling inflation, and a new judicial reform package as examples of “very positive developments that we sadly see are being ignored”.
The Turkish economy entered into recession for the first time in a decade last year following a currency crisis in the summer amid tensions with the United States.

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