Thousands of demonstrators have on Friday taken to the streets in Iraq’s capital, Baghdad to demand the withdrawal of US troops from the country, after a prominent cleric called for a “million strong” protest against the American military presence, following the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and an Iraqi militia chief.
Earlier, Iraqi parliament voted for all foreign troops – including some 5,200 US forces – to leave the country and called on the government to cancel its request for assistance from the US-led coalition that had been working with Baghdad to fight the ISIL (ISIS) group.
The latest rally called by Moqtada al-Sadr aims to pressure Washington to pull out its troops, but many anti-government protesters fear it could overshadow their separate, months-long demonstrations that have challenged Iran-backed Shi’ite groups’ grip on power.
With heavy security presence, the protesters including men and women marched waving Iraqi flags and wearing symbolic white shrouds chanting slogans against the United States, which leads a military coalition against the Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
According to Reuters, On Friday marchers avoided Tahrir square, symbol of mass protests against Iraq’ ruling elites as throngs of marchers started gathering early at al-Hurriya Square in central Baghdad and near around the city’s main university.
Iraq’s top Shia Muslim leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, later called in his weekly sermon for political groups to form a new government as soon as possible to bring stability to the country and enact reforms to improve Iraqis’ lives.
South Korea’s Yoo Myung-Hee Reportedly Withdraws From WTO DG Race
Nigeria’s former finance minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, appears to be the lone ranger standing for the post of director-general of the World Trade Organization. This follows a report that her opponent, South Korea’s trade minister, Yoo Myung-Hee, is withdrawing her candidacy for the position.
South Korea is said to have informed the United States of the decision to drop out of consideration for the position because the trade minister had failed to garner enough support from every region.
Okonjo-Iweala secured wide margins of popular support, but her candidacy was put on hold because the U.S. had not supported her candidacy.
A newsletter, Washington Trade Daily, reports South Korea has already informed the United States of its decision which is expected to be made public in a matter of days.
Trump Imposes New Rule For Some African Travellers
The Trump administration has announced a new rule of entry into the U.S. for 15 African countries whose citizens will now have to post bonds of up to $15,000 when visiting the country.
The new temporary travel rule takes effect on Christmas eve and targets visitor and business visas. Affected African countries include Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Djibouti. Others are Eritrea, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Sudan.
The us state department says this move will deter those who overstay their visas.
President Donald Trump had made restricting immigration a central part of his four-year term. The visa bond rule targets countries whose nationals had an “overstay rate” of 10% or higher last year and will now be required to pay a refundable bond of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000.
Meanwhile, president-elect Joe Biden has pledged to reverse many of Trump`s immigration policies, but untangling hundreds of changes could take months or years.
Sudan, Israel Normalization Talks
Sudan and Israel have continued normalizing ties between their two nations.
Israel says it has sent a delegation to Sudan for the first time since the countries agreed to build relations following a deal brokered by us president Donald Trump last month.
Israeli intelligence minister Eli Cohen said last week, the initial delegation to Sudan would be small and talks would focus on security matters.
He was quoted as saying, a larger delegation would then follow, to address possible economic co-operation with Sudan.
Sudan is the third Arab league nation, along with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, to normalize relations with Israel since September, despite strong opposition from Palestinians.
Sudan had been a foe of Israel for more than 8 decades. Since the latter’s founding in 1948.
Famously, it was the site of a declaration against normalizing ties with Israel in 1967, when the Arab league, meeting in the capital, Khartoum, swore “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it”.