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Syria

Bashar al-Assad sworn-in as Syria President for third term

After a being declared winner in the recently held and much criticized presidential polls, Bashar al-Assad has been sworn in for a third 7-year term as president of Syria.

Mr Assad pledged to fight “terrorism” until security was reinstated to all over the country, but also vowed to offer “national reconciliation” to opponents.

He has refused the demands of resignation since an uprising began in March 2011. The conflict that flared up after the authorities launched a brutal suppression on protests has left at least 170,000 people dead and displaced more than nine million others.

Iraq crisis could impact oil prices in India

OilIndian government is keeping a close watch on the ongoing crisis in Iraq where terrorist groups led by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) are attacking and capturing regions in the country. Though the crisis hasn’t yet caused any disruption in the country’s crude oil supplies to India, it has the potential to push up global crude prices. In FY14, India imported around 13% of its crude oil from Iraq, the most after Saudi Arabia, which provided for about 20% of the country’s oil imports of 190 million tonnes in the year. India’s dependence on Iraq crude oil surged since FY12 after US sanctions on Iran.

The average price of Indian crude oil basket that was at $106.94/ barrel during April-May has now increased to $110.31/barrel. The surge in the price has been witnessed since the intensification of fighting between militants belonging to the Sunni minority and Iraq security forces.

As per experts, the oil prices may soar if militants — now fighting Iraq’s security forces mostly in northern regions — advance into southern Iraq, which accounts for around three-quarters of the country’s crude production.

Normally, Indian refiners have stock of crude oil ranging from 15 days to nearly a month. Any deficiency in supplies from Iraq could be replenished from other suppliers such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, but if disturbances prolong, it could impact Indian refiners.

Escalation of the price of crude oil directly impacts India’s fuel subsidy and could hurt government finances. Due to gradual price increase by the government the losses on diesel have now reduced to Rs 1.62 per litre and the government aims to make the fuel’s price fully market-determined. For instance, if there is an increase in international crude oil price by a dollar, price of diesel in India could rise by roughly 40 paise/ litre.

India ranked 143 on Global Peace Index 2014

Global Peace Index (GPI) for year 2014 has been released by Institute for Economics and Peace in London. The GPI measured peace in 162 nations on the basis of 22 parameters. India slipped two ranks than previous year and has been positioned 143rd in the global rankings.

Some key observations from GPI 2014:

  • Syria replaced Afghanistan as the world’s least peaceful country. Iceland has retained its position as the most peaceful country in the world.
  • Georgia registered the largest improvement in peace, while South Sudan witnessed the sharpest decline and now ranks as the 3rd least peaceful nation.
  • Comparing India with its neighbours, Nepal ranked 76, Bangladesh (98), Sri Lanka (105), Pakistan (154), Afghanistan (161) and China (108).
  • From economic perspective, it cost Indian economy $ 177 billion for containing and dealing with the consequences of India’s level of violence. The cost is equivalent to 3.6% percent of GDP of India or $145 per person.

Top ten performers on GPI 2014:

  1. Iceland
  2. Denmark
  3. Austria
  4. New Zealand
  5. Switzerland
  6. Finland
  7. Canada
  8. Japan
  9. Belgium
  10. Norway

Global Peace Index (GPI)

Launched in 2007, GPI intends to a measure levels of world peace. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the Index uses 22 indicators, ranging from a nation’s level of military expenditure to its relations with neighboring nations and the percentage of prison population in 162 countries.

The IEP, based in Sydney (Australia) is an international and independent think tank dedicated to draw the world’s attention towards peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and development.

Bashar al-Assad retains Presidency of Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been elected for a 3rd term in office. He won the recently held presidential polls by securing around 88% votes.  President Assad’s rivals- Hassan al-Nouri and Maher Hajjar, got 4.3% and 3.2% of the vote respectively.

Earlier, the Supreme Constitutional Court had announced that some 11.63 million Syrians voted out of a total of 15.85 million eligible voters. Voting was held in government-controlled areas, but not in parts of the north and east under seize by rebels.

The Syrian government is battling with a long running civil war waged by rebels. The victory is likely to boost Assad’s supporters. Over the past year, the government has made major military gains and rebel groups have fought among themselves. Thousands of people have died in three years of civil war in Syria, with millions more dislocated.

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