Syria and Iraq Current Affairs - 2020

US army kills Iranian Commander Soleimani: India’s Concerns

On January 3, 2020, the US army killed Iran’s most powerful military commander General Qasem Soleimani. He was killed at Baghdad airport.

Highlights

In a drone strike held by the US force at Baghdad airport, the Iranian Commander was killed along with other Iran supported militia heads. Under his leadership Iran had expanded its military presence in Syria and Iraq.

India’s Concerns

The region where the air strike was held is an extended neighborhood that houses 7 million Indians. These Overseas Citizens residing in Iran send valuable foreign remittance. India is also worried about the impact of the tensions on international fuel prices that soared by 4% on the very same day.

India is not purchasing oil from Iran at present. In May 2019, India stopped purchasing oil from Iran following US sanctions. However, unrest in the region will impact the oil imports from Saudi Arabia. This is because most of the imports to India from Saudi Arabia takes place through Strait of Hormuz controlled by Iran. Saudi Arabia is the second largest oil supplier of India after Iraq. In 2018-19, Saudi Arabia supplied 40.33 million tons of crude oil.

Also, the tensions could impact India’s trade with the region. India’s trade with the region now stands at 78 billion USD. The trade in the region is predominantly with the Gulf Cooperation Members that includes Kuwait, Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

Meteor missiles: India asks for early delivery from France

India has requested for an early delivery of Meteor air-to-air missiles from France. These missiles will provide India the power to take on US supplied AMRAAM missiles possessed by the Pakistan Air Force.

Highlights

The Meteor missile has a delivery range to take over all the other air forces in the region including China. The missiles were to come by late 2020. However, India is insisting for delivery of at least 10 missiles in advance along with the first set of Rafale fighter jets. The first set of Rafale jets are to arrive in May 2020 after the completion of pilot training in France.

Meteor Missiles

The Meteor missiles are air-to-air missiles with a range of 150 km and no escape zone of 60 km. This no escape zone is the largest in the world according to its manufacturers. These missiles are to be attached to the Rafale jets. With increasing tensions between India and Pakistan, India is requesting for an early delivery.

Operation Chammal

The French Government has invited India to visit the Al Dhafra air base in UAE where the Rafale aircrafts are on active operations. The base is currently executing Operation Chammal.

Operation Chammal is a French Military operation in Syria and Iraq to contain the expansion of Islamic State. The operation also supports Iraq army. The name of the operation comes from the north westerly wind that blows over Persian Gulf and Iraq.