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US Withdraws 4000 Troops From Iraq

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The United States will withdraw about 4,000 troops from Iraq by the end of October, the U.S. military commander in Iraq said in testimony prepared for a congressional hearing on Wednesday.

In his assessment of the war, General Ray Odierno will tell the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that the United States is on track to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq by September 2010.

“We have approximately 124,000 troops and 11 Combat Teams operating in Iraq today. By the end of October, I believe we will be down to 120,000 troops in Iraq,” Odierno said in an advance copy of the testimony obtained on Tuesday.

“As we go forward, we will thin out lines across Iraq in order to reduce the risk and sustain stability through a deliberate transition of responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces.”

Odierno said the number of U.S. contractors in Iraq has dropped from 149,000 in January to just over 115,000, saving over $441 million. Nearly 100 U.S. bases also have been closed, the testimony said.

A Pentagon spokesman said he could not comment on the testimony because it had not yet been released.

President Barack Obama’s withdrawal timetable calls for the U.S. combat mission in Iraq to end on August 31, 2010. However, a force of 30,000 to 50,000 troops will remain to train and equip Iraqi forces and protect provincial reconstruction teams, international projects and diplomatic staff.

Odierno said that Iraq security is improving, but there are still some sources of potential conflict.

“I call these drivers of instability,” he said, listing among them national elections coming up in January, Arab-Kurd tensions and violent groups within Iraq.

“Al Qaeda in Iraq, Sunni extremist groups, and Shi’a militant groups continue to pose threats to stability as they seek to exploit political fissures, destabilize the government and undermine the progress made to date,” Odierno added.

Violence has fallen sharply in Iraq since the height of the sectarian killing unleashed by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Still, roadside bombs, shootings and suicide attacks remain common, raising questions about local security forces’ ability to keep Iraqis safe as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by 2012.

Al-Qaeda Hobbled by Improved Anti-Terror, Intelligence Efforts

Sept. 30 (Bloomberg) — Al-Qaeda has failed to carry out major attacks in recent months because of improved counterterrorism efforts, better intelligence and a reduced ability to recruit terrorists, a senior United Nations Security Council official said.

“Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have really not been able to mount the level and the quantity of attacks that they would hope to in recent months” as counterterrorism activities become more sophisticated and groups wane in their appeal and recruitment efforts, said Richard Barrett, coordinator of the UN’s al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team.

Intelligence-gathering and targeting operations have improved substantially in the eight years since the Sept. 11 attacks, leading to the capture or assassination of numerous key leaders of al-Qaeda and its related networks in Southeast Asia, Iraq and Pakistan, Barrett said in an address yesterday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

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IPPIS: FG, ASUU Meet, Today, As Fresh Strike Looms

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Delegations from the Federal Government and Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are expected to meet, today, in a bid to avert a fresh strike.
The chairmen of ASUU branches had expressed readiness to commence a fresh strike over the non-implementation of their agreement with FG on IPPIS.
One of them, Chairman, ASUU, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, Dr Ibrahim Inuwa, said the protracted strike, which was to press home the union members’ demands for the continued survival of the public university system in Nigeria, was suspended in December after the two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the various issues and providing timelines for the implementation of each of the eight items in the agreement.
Inuwa said over seven months after the MoU was signed only two out of the eight issues had been addressed.
He listed some of the outstanding issues to include payment of the earned academic allowance, funding for revitalisation of public universities, salary shortfall, proliferation of state universities and setting up of visitation panels.
Others are renegotiation, replacement of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) with the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) and withheld salaries and non-remittance of check-off dues.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr. Charles Akpan, said the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, will be hosting the leadership of the ASUU to a meeting at the ministry’s Conference Room, Federal Secretariat in Abuja.
“The Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, will be hosting a meeting with ASUU. The meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 2, 2021 at Minister’s Conference Room,” the letter read.
The National President, ASUU, Prof Emmanuel Osodeke, had said that the union was invited by the Ministry of Labour to discuss issues surrounding the Memorandum of Action, which was signed with the Federal Government in December, 2020.
However, Osodeke, explained the last time the union met with the government was around March/April.
He said, “The Ministry of Education, which is our ministry, has not called us to any meeting since we signed the Memorandum of Action. But the Ministry of Labour, which is just an intervention ministry, around March/April called us to a meeting in which we discussed and they promised to implement all those things.”

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30 Of 65 Private Jets In Nigeria Owe Duties, Customs Insists

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The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) says 30 out of 65 private airplanes verified owe duties to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah, made the disclosure to newsmen, yesterday.
He said some of the airplanes came into the country by Temporary Importation Agreement which allows them in without payment because it was secured by bond.
The spokesman noted that many later fail to turn up to pay on the expiration of the agreement.
The customs explained that the verification was not meant to embarrass anyone but to collect payments due to the government.
The service has given another two-week extension which commenced from Monday, July 26, to Friday, August 6.
Attah said with the increasing economic challenge, every revenue is important.
“With this, you can now tie proper ownership to every aircraft or private jet that flies in and out of the country.
“The owners of private jets are highly placed Nigerians who should be respected and approached in a manner that provides convenience. That is what these extensions stand for,” he added.

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FBI Indictment: PSC, IGP Suspend Kyari, Name Inquiry Panel

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The Police Service Commission (PSC) has suspended embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police and Head, Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force, Abba Kyari, from the exercise of the powers and functions of his office.
Kyari’s suspension was contained in a press statement by the commission’s Head, Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, made available to newsmen, yesterday.
The commission said Abba Kyari’s suspension took effect from Saturday, July 31, 2021, and would subsist pending the outcome of the investigation in respect of his indictment by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States.
The commission has also directed the Inspector General of Police to furnish it with information on further development on the matter for necessary further action.
The commission’s decision which was conveyed in a letter with reference, PSC/POL/D/153/vol/V/138 to the Inspector General of Police today, Sunday, August 1st, 2021, was signed by Hon. Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Honourable Commissioner 1 in the commission for the commission’s Chairman, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, a retired Inspector General of Police who is currently on leave.
Earlier, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, had recommended the immediate suspension of DCP Abba Kyari from the service of the Nigeria Police Force, pending the report of the four-man investigative panel constituted to probe him.
A statement by the spokesperson of the Force, CP Frank MBA, last Saturday, the IGP, in his letter to the Police Service Commission (PSC), dated July 31, 2021, noted that the recommendation is in line with the internal disciplinary processes of the force.
According to the IGP, the suspension would also create an enabling environment for the NPF Special Investigation Panel, to carry out its investigations into the allegations against Kyari without interference.
He explained that the suspension is without prejudice to the constitutional presumption of innocence in favour of the officer, the statement said.
The four-man Special Investigation Panel (SIP), is headed by the Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge of the Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID), DIG Joseph Egbunike.
“The SIP is to undertake a detailed review of all the allegations against DCP Abba Kyari by the US Government as contained in relevant documents that have been availed the NPF by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The SIP is also to obtain detailed representation of DCP Abba Kyari to all the allegations levelled against him, conduct further investigations as it deems fit, and submit recommendations to guide further actions by the Force leadership on the matter,” Mba said.
Meanwhile, the IGP has reaffirmed the commitment of the force to the rule of law, and assured the public of the sanctity of the probe as well as the absolute respect for the rights and privileges of the officer throughout the period of the investigations.

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