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Breaking News:

Trump fires election security official, cuts troops in Iran, Afghanistan

By Ngozi Egenuka
19 November 2020   |   4:07 am
United States President Donald Trump says he has fired a top election official who contradicted his (Trump’s) claims of voter fraud.

• Iran urges U.S. to lift sanctions under Biden
United States President Donald Trump says he has fired a top election official who contradicted his (Trump’s) claims of voter fraud.

He said he “terminated” the appointment of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (Cisa) chief, Chris Krebs for his “highly inaccurate” remarks on vote integrity.

Election officials said the vote was the “most secure” in U.S. history.

Krebs is the latest official to be dismissed by the U.S. president following his defeat, with Defence Secretary Mark Esper also shown the door amid reports that Trump doubted the Pentagon chief’s loyalty.

There is speculation in Washington DC that before Trump leaves office in January, CIA director Gina Haspel and FBI director Christopher Wray could also be on the chopping block.

Like many others fired by Trump, Mr. Krebs reportedly only learned he was out of a job when he saw the president’s tweet on Tuesday.

But following his dismissal, the former Microsoft executive appeared to have no regrets.

MEANWHILE, Senior Republicans and U.S. allies have voiced alarm at the announcement that a large number of American troops will be recalled from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. is to withdraw 2,500 troops from both countries by mid-January, the Department of Defence confirmed.

President Donald Trump has long called for troops to come home and has criticised U.S. interventions abroad.

The head of NATO warned of a “very high price”. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell called the plan “a mistake”.

McConnell, usually a staunch defender of President Trump, also warned him against making “any earth-shaking changes in regard to defence and foreign policy” before leaving the White House.

Trump is yet to concede to Democrat Joe Biden, and the cuts are scheduled to take place five days before Mr. Biden takes office on 20 January 2021.

The president-elect has said he is “rightly weary of our longest war” in Afghanistan but also said there was a need to “end the war responsibly, in a manner that ensures we both guard against threats to our homeland and never have to go back”.

The Biden transition team has not yet commented on the announcement.

In Iraq, the number of U.S. troops will be cut by 5000 to 2,500, while the number of service personnel in Afghanistan will fall from 4,500 to about 2,500.

However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, has said Iran would fully implement its 2015 nuclear deal if U.S. President-elect lifts sanctions on Tehran, which Zarif said could be done swiftly through “three executive orders”.

Biden has pledged to rejoin the historic 2015 accord, agreed to by six world powers known as the P5 + 1, if Iran also returns to compliance.

But diplomats and analysts have said it was unlikely to happen overnight as the distrustful adversaries would both want additional commitments from each other.

Zarif did not insist on any compensation from the United States, unlike leaders such as President Hassan Rouhani who have demanded it in exchange for the “damages” Tehran has suffered under the renewed U.S. sanctions, implicitly arguing Washington should repay it for the lost oil revenues.

“If Biden is willing to fulfill U.S. commitments, we too can immediately return to our full commitments in the accord and negotiations are possible within the framework of the P5 + 1,” Zarif said in an interview posted on the website of the state-run daily Iran yesterday.