US-Iran conflict: Trump backs away after Iran’s attack
US President Donald Trump has not talked about an escalation in conflict after Irani missiles hit US bases in Iraq. He has, however, said that US would impose more economic sanctions on the state.
The current conflict has been ignited after Major General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated through a US drone strike, ordered by President Trump.
The General was the leader of Iran’s Quds force. The force has been considered as a threat against American and allied forces and the assassination as a way to safeguard American interests.
Since the killing, tensions between US & Iran have risen to a high level, even as neighbouring Iraq sought to remove US troops from its soil. Iran launched 12 missiles against US bases in Iraq, though US reported there were no injuries or loss of life in the attack.
Iran has also vowed to end US presence in West Asia.
What you should know:
US-Iran relations -
Since the cold war, Americans have been interested in Iran’s oil resources. The 1979 Iranian revolution brought an Islamist government to the centre. Relations strained further after Iranian extremists held American embassy officials hostage for 444 days.
The 1980 Iran-Iraq war, subsequent conflict in the Gulf has led to distrust against US in the region. Iran’s nuclear ambitions haven’t helped matters either.
Ukranian plane crash in Iran - 176 dead
At a time when US-Iran tensions are at an all-time high, a Ukrainian International Airlines plane which took off from Tehran’s international airport crashed shortly after, killing all 176 passengers onboard. The plan had 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 4 Afghanis on board, apart from 27 Europeans.
The timing of the crash is deemed suspect.
Rocket firings, terror motives were earlier ruled out as culprits in the crash. These are now being reconsidered.
What you should know -
Political tensions in Middle east:
The current frame of US-Iran tensions have escalated political tensions in the region, with countries considering a full-scale conflict.
FDI in coal mining
In a move to disinvest from PSUs, the Cabinet has eased mining rules to allow foriegn direct investment in the sector. FICCI has welcomed the decision as it will open the public sector to much-needed funding.
The move has happened with the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.
It will allow auctioning of coal mines to all sectors and remove end-use restrictions for mining blocks
46 iron ore and other mines will be auctioned before March 31, 2020.
In 2014, Supreme Court had cancelled 214 coal blocks over end-use restrictions. Since then, only 29 coal blocks have been auctioned so far.
This move follows a policy by the government to allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in India under automatic route for coal and lignite mining. This is expected to add funds in government coffers, boost the sector with much-needed cash and give an additional boost to the slowing economy.
The cabinet has also approved the following -
- Strategic disinvestment of 5 PSUs - Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation Ltd (MMTC), National Mineral Development Corp (NMDC), MECON, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd (NINL), and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL)
- MoU with UK on Mineral Laws
- Migration and mobility partnership between India and France
What you should know:
- Status of Foreign Direct Investment in India
- Disinvestment of PSU
- Impact on Indian economy
Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh undertakes 5-day China visit
The Northern Army Commander has undertaken a 5-day visit to China, the first such visit since 2015. He and a high-level military delegation will hold talks with top PLA (People’s Liberation Army) generals.
During the recent creation of a Chief of Defence staff post, the new Chief Gen Bipin Rawat had talked about changes and upgradation alongside the northern border, which India maintains with China.
The visit can be linked to this new Chinese focus, especially at a time when India-Pakistan relations have been strained, especially after the Pulwama attack and India’s much-publicised surgical strikes.
What you should know:
India and China have had uneasy military relations ever since the Sino-Indian war in 1962 and the border disputes since then. Ownership of Aksai Chin, China’s control over Tibet and warm ties with Pakistan have not been palatable to the Indian side.
In 2017, there was a military stand-off at Doklam between troops from those in India and Pakistan.
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