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Soleimani played key role in US defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan

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Soleimani played key role in US defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan

One of the influential factors which had a hand in the failure of the United States and its allies in the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq was strategic measures and performance of Martyr Lt. General Ghasem Soleimani under the guidelines of the Leader and the Supreme National Security Council, said Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, Top military Aide to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Of course, the heroic struggles of the oppressed nation of Afghanistan and the brave nation of Iraq, as well as the elites and clerics, were influential too, but General Soleimani was always present on the battlefield and defeated the Americans, he added.

He went on to say, “The Americans were so stupid that they neglected their two main strategic rivals, China and Russia”, he said adding that China’s economic power and Russia’s military power improved while Americans did not achieve their goals in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Islamic Republic ofbecause Iran’s enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan were defeated by Americans themselves, he added.

As a result of a strategic mistake by the United States and the defeat of ISIL terrorist groups, Iran became the leading power in the West Asian region, and Iran’s power extended from Iran to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean.

Safavi also considered the cowardly assassination of General Soleimani as a strategic failure for Americans, noting that the current decline of American hegemony, both domestically and internationally, is the result of the measures taken by General Soleimani.

Such decline of the arrogant US regime is irreversible and inevitable, and the new US administration can not prevent it, he stressed.

Top Military Aide to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution 

RHM/5121379

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Joe Biden to reinstate Covid travel restrictions on travellers from UK

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President Joe Biden is set to reinstate Covid-19 travel restrictions on non-US travellers from Brazil, Ireland, the UK and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders.

White House officials said that South Africa would also be added to the restricted list on Monday because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.

Mr Biden is reversing an order from Donald Trump in his final days in office that called for the relaxation of the travel restrictions as of Tuesday.

President Joe Biden is reversing Donald Trump’s order (Evan Vucci/AP)

The decision to reverse the order is not surprising but the addition of South Africa to the restricted travel list highlights the new administration’s concern about mutations in the virus.

The South Africa variant has not been discovered in the United States but another variant — originating in the UK — has been detected in several states.

Last week, Mr Biden issued an executive order directing federal agencies to require international air passengers to quarantine upon arrival in the US.

The order also requires that all US-bound passengers aged 2 and above get negative Covid-19 test results within three days before travelling.

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Portugal’s president wins second term after Covid-hit election

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Portugal’s president has been returned to office for a second term in an election held amid a devastating Covid-19 surge that has made the country the worst in the world for cases and deaths.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa captured around 61.5% of the vote. He had been widely expected to win.

In a stunning development, newly arrived right-wing populist Andre Ventura was in a close race for second place with Socialist candidate Ana Gomes, with both polling around 12%.

Such a showing for Mr Ventura would have been unthinkable until recently and will send a shudder through Portuguese politics.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (Manuel de Almeida/ via AP)

Four other candidates ran for president.

One of the re-elected president’s first tasks will be to decide next month whether to approve a new law allowing euthanasia.

Parliament has passed the Bill but the head of state could try to block it or send it to the Constitutional Court for vetting.

The turnout was less than 40% — significantly lower than in recent elections and apparently confirming concerns that some people would stay away for fear of becoming infected with Covid-19.

Political leaders say that when the pandemic began to worsen there was no longer enough time to change the Portuguese constitution to allow a postponement.

Portugal has the world’s highest rates of new daily infections and deaths per 100,000 population, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and its public health system is under huge strain.

Mr Rebelo de Sousa, 72, has long been viewed as the clear front-runner in the contest. He is an affable law professor and former television personality who as president has consistently had an approval rating of 60% or more.

To win, a candidate must capture more than 50% of the vote.

Right-wing populist presidential candidate Andre Ventura casts his ballot at a polling station in Lisbon (Armando Franca/AP)

Mr Rebelo de Sousa, a former leader of the centre-right Social Democratic Party, has worked closely with the centre-left minority Socialist government, supporting its pandemic efforts.

He also has endeared himself to the Portuguese with his easy-going style. Photographs taken by passers-by of him in public places, such as one last year of him standing in line at a supermarket wearing trainers and shorts, routinely go viral.

With the country in lockdown, the election campaign featured none of the usual flag-waving rallies but restrictions on movement were lifted for polling day.

Authorities increased the number of polling stations and allowed for early voting to reduce crowding on election day. In other precautions, voters were asked to bring their own pens and disinfectant to polling stations. Everyone voting wore a mask and kept a safe distance from each other.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa urged people to turn out for the ballot, saying that “unprecedented planning” had gone into ensuring that the vote could take place safely.

Portugal has 10.8 million registered voters, around 1.5 million of them living abroad.

Every Portuguese president since 1976, when universal suffrage was introduced following the departure of a dictatorship, has been returned for a second term. No woman or member of an ethnic minority has ever held the post.

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Joe Biden attends Mass for first time since taking office

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President Joe Biden has attended Mass for the first time since taking office, worshipping on Sunday at the church he frequented when he was vice president.

Mr Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington’s Georgetown neighbourhood, a few miles from the White House.

It is where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F Kennedy, often went to Mass.

Mr Biden entered through the front entrance, where a Black Lives Matter banner was hanging on one side and a banner with a quote from Pope Francis was on the other: “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, left, depart after attending mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The president, in a brief exchange with reporters, said the service was “lovely”.

He was accompanied to church by his son, Hunter, and two of his grandchildren, Finnegan and Maisy.

His motorcade made a brief stop on the way back to the White House for a takeway from Call Your Mother, a popular deli near the church.

The president remained in his armoured vehicle while his son picked up the order.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that Mr Biden had not yet settled on a home church in the nation’s capital but said that she expected Mr Biden will continue to regularly attend services during his presidency.

President Joe Biden’s motorcade drives through the Georgetown neighbourhood of Washington (Patrick Semansky/AP)

At home in Delaware, Mr Biden and his wife, Jill, were regulars at St Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville.

They alternated between the Saturday and Sunday services depending on their travel schedules throughout the 2020 campaign.

Catholic faithful have an obligation to attend Sunday services but church teaching allows for the commitment to be fulfilled by attending a service on the evening of the preceding day.

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