Iraq Current Affairs - 2019

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Islamic State for first time claims ‘Province’ in India

The Islamic State (or IS, a Salafi jihadist militant group) for the first time has claimed that it has established a “province” in India. Although, ISIS began claiming attacks against Indian security forces in Kashmir since November 2017 but without any branch affiliation.

About the Claims

  • New ‘province’: claimed by Islamic State (IS) is called in Arabic as “Wilayah of Hind” (India Province), the dreaded terror outfit, (also known as ISIS and ISIL). The claims came after a militant with alleged ties to the group was killed in a clash between security forces and militants in the Kashmir region.
  • IS Claims: As per IS’s Amaq News Agency claims, the IS caused casualties on Indian army soldiers in Amshipora town in Shopian district of Kashmir. The claims by IS corresponds with killing of a militant named Ishfaq Ahmad Sofi in an encounter in Shopian. As per Military officials for more than a decade, Sofi was involved in other kashmiri militant groups before pledging allegiance to Islamic State.
  • Analysis:
    • According to Indian security experts analysis, claims by IS about establishment of a ‘province’ in Kashmir region, where it in reality IS has nothing resembling actual governance is unreasonable, but it should not be written off.
    • ISIS earlier did not elaborate on its branch’s geographical remit as mentioned in name of its new branch in India in a low-key announcement.
    • The low-key announcement of new branch is being seen as part of ISIS’ strategy to give impression of strengthening its global affiliations following territorial losses in Middle East (Iraq and Syria in April). In past, such a strategy has been highlighted by ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
  • Other Claims: IS also took responsibility for Easter Sunday bombing in Sri Lanka (in which at least 253 people killed). This shows that IS has stepped up hit-and-run raids and suicide attacks.

Iraq remains India’s top supplier of Crude Oil in 2019

According to data released by Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics (DGCI&S), Iraq remains India’s top crude oil supplier for second year in a row.

Key Highlights of India’s Oil import Data

  • India is world’s third largest importer of crude oil (7% of total crude oil imports) after China (world’s largest importer with 20.2% of total crude oil imports) and USA (13.8%).
  • India’s crude oil imports meets 80 % its oil needs.
  • Total Import: India imported 207.3 MT (Metric Tons) of crude oil in 2018-19, down from 220.4 MT in 2017-18. This increased India’s total crude oil import bill by 40.6% i.e. to $86.9 billion as compared to $61.8 billion from previous year.
  • Iraq: one of largest producers of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is India’s top crude oil supplier for past two years. It meets more than 20% of India’s oil needs in 2018-19 fiscal year by selling 46.61 million tonnes (mt) of crude oil to India.
  • Saudi Arabia: largest producer of OPEC has traditionally been India’s top oil import source, but in 2017-18 fiscal year it was dethroned by Iraq for the first time. In 2018-19, Saudi exported 40.33 mt of crude oil to India. Amid restrictions on Iranian crude oil exports, India’s oil imports from Saudi Arabia jumped 53% 3.02 MT in December 2018.
  • Iran: the Persian Gulf nation was third largest crude oil supplier to India even when India stopped importing from Iran following re-imposition of economic sanctions by US. It sold 23.9 mt of crude in 2018-19, up from 22.59 mt in the 2017.
  • UAE: surpassed Venezuela to become India’s fourth-largest crude supplier. It sold 17.49MT of crude oil to India in 2018-19.
  • Venezuela: is one of top five crude oil suppliers to India. But volume of crude sourced from Venezuela has been erratic due to ongoing political and economic crisis and under-investment in sector which is impacting it’s production.
  • Nigeria was next biggest supplier with 16.83MT of exports in 2018-19.
  • Other Countries: Kuwait supplied 10.78 MT of crude oil and next to it was Mexico which supplied another 10.28 MT.
  • United States: It first began selling crude oil to India in 2017 is now fast becoming a major supplier. Supplies from U.S. jumped by more than four times in 2018-19 fiscal year.

Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence & Statistics (DGCI&S)

  • It is a premier organization of Govt. of India attached to Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
  • Its office is located at Kolkata. It is entrusted with collection, compilation and publishing or dissemination of India’s trade statistics and commercial information.
  • Such information is often required by policy makers, researchers, importers, exporters, traders and even overseas buyers.