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Iraqi Parliament approves PM’s resignation



Adel Abdul-Mahdi

Baghdad, Dec 2 : Iraq’s Parliament has accepted Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation after two months of deadly anti-government demonstrations in the country.

State media reported that the Iraqi MPs on Sunday gathered for a special session to vote on the PM’s resignation presented to the Parliament in writing on Saturday, Efe news reported.

Abdul-Mahdi tendered his resignation on Friday after the country’s top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani denounced the violence in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

Abdul-Mahdi on Friday said that if the Parliament accepted his resignation, his government would turn into a caretaker cabinet pending the formation of a new one.

Under the Iraqi constitution, the largest political bloc would have to propose a new candidate, whom the President Barham Saleh will then assign to form a cabinet within 30 days.

The bloc with the majority of seats is Saairun Alliance led by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who stressed Friday Abdul-Mahdi’s departure is “the first fruits of the revolution and not the last”.

He also suggested that the nomination of the new prime minister should be decided through a popular referendum among five candidates.

Earlier on the day, the Iraqi Supreme Council said that an arrest warrant was issued against a military chief for allegedly ordering a deadly clampdown on protesters in the southern province of Dhi Qar.

General Jamil al-Shammari, who was removed from his post and banned from travelling, was in charge of the security crisis cell of Dhi Qar, where about 50 people were killed during clashes between security forces and protesters in recent days.

On Wednesday, protesters torched the Iranian consulate building in the southern city of Najaf, located north of Nasiriyah, the capital city of Dhi Qar.

Mass demonstrations erupted in Iraq on 1 October and have recently intensified in the Shiite-majority southern provinces over the intervention of Iran in Iraq’s internal affairs.

At least 400 people were killed and over 16,000 others injured amid the protests decrying the lack of public services and employment opportunities mainly in Baghdad and other areas in the south.

Middle East

Killing of Soleimani disgrace for US: Khamenei




Ali Khamenei

Tehran, Jan 17 : While leading the Friday prayers for the first time since 2012, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the January 3 killing of Major General Qasem Soleimani in an American drone attack, was a “disgrace for the US”.

“They stealthily and cowardly assassinated Gen. Soleimani in a terrorist fashion. This resulted in a disgrace for America,” Khamenei said as he led the prayers in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Grand Mosque, where huge crowds of worshipers had already gathered from early Friday morning.

Regarding the January 8 Iranian missile attack on two military bases in Iraq that houses US troops which was in retaliation of Soleimani’s death, Khamenei said that Tehran’s response “dealt a blow to the American prestige”, reports Press TV.

The attack was a “military blow, but more important it was a blow to the American grandeur”, he added.

Khamenei also lashed out at British, German and French leaders who admitted this week to have launched a process that could lead to European sanctions being reimposed on Iran.

“You are too small to bring the Iranian nation to its knees,” he said.

Meanwhile, massive anti-US protest rallies were expected to be held after the prayers.

The last time Khamenei led Friday prayers in Tehran was in 2012 on the 33rd anniversary of the country’s Islamic Revolution.

Friday’s prayer service also came in the wake of widespread protests over the January 8 downing of the Kiev-bound Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 by an Iranian missile shortly after it took off from Tehran, killing all 176 people on board.

The protests erupted across Iran after the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on January 12 admitted that the plane had been mistaken for a “cruise missile” during heightened tensions with the US.

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With Iran-US tension easing, expect markets to move up





Markets were under pressure in the first half of the week and waited for Iran to come out of the period of mourning and then gauge the response to the killing of their top chief of the Revolutionary Guards. Post the mourning period the retaliation which came in the form of missile attacks at two bases of the US army in Iraq was a measured attack and certainly not meant to escalate tensions. President Donald Trump for once showed restraint and helped in easing global tensions by talking down the markets. A net result of all of this was markets went up globally. Crude oil prices fell and so did gold. In a nutshell what was being talked about as the probable beginning of world war III, saw tensions de-escalating in a big manner.

BSESENSEX gained 135.11 points or 0.33 per cent to close at 41,599.72 points while NIFTY gained 30.15 points or 0.25 per cent to close at 12.256.80 points. The broader indices saw BSE100, BSE200 and BSE500 gain 0.27 per cent, 0.28 per cent and 0.37 per cent, respectively. BSEMIDCAP was up 0.29 per cent, while BSESMALLCAP gained 1.13 per cent.

During the week we saw BSESENSEX lose 1,000 points to touch a low of 40,476.55 points and then make a new lifetime high at 41,775 points. NIFTY similarly lost 300 points to make a low of 11,929 points and then a new lifetime high at 12,311 points.

Tata Sons in their appeal to Supreme Court against the order of reinstating Cyrus Mistry issued by NCLAT got the expected stay. Corporate India would certainly be interested in the final judgement as it has raised many issues of interest and also rights of minority shareholders.

The US-Iran tension seems to have significantly eased of and the acceptance of Iran in downing the Ukrainian passenger plane accidentally taken centre stage. Without doubt the people of Ukraine would ask for huge compensation for the loss of lives of 176 people at some point of time, this issue would indirectly shift the focus from US-Iran to Iran-Ukraine.

The matter of Sterling and Wilson Solar Limited is becoming interesting. In the Red Herring Prospectus on page 84, it is clearly mentioned that the objects of the issue include the Promoter Selling Shareholders utilising a portion of the Net Offer Proceeds, towards funding full repayment of the loans due to the Company going public, and Sterling and Wilson International Solar FZCO from SWPL and Sterling and Wilson International FZE (a subsidiary of SWPL) respectively within 90 days from the date of listing of the Equity Shares. This period expired in November 2019. The board has approved an extension for the loans to be repaid in a phased manner till September 2020. This is a serious issue and object of the issue cannot be changed without the consent of shareholders particularly the minority shareholders. The share price has fallen significantly and therefore not liked by shareholders. What view would be taken by SEBI is yet to be finalised. This certainly would be a high-profile judgement and considering that the Shapoorji Pallonji group is fighting the Tata’s would make it even more of a high-profile case.

Result season has begun and one would see corporate results for the quarter October-December or Q3 of FY2019-20 coming in over the next five weeks. The season has begun well and one would hope that there are positive surprises and some green shoots visible.

Markets have recovered significantly from intra week lows and are back on track to continuing their upward move. One should expect markets to move up in the coming week led by midcap and Smallcap stocks, ably supported by the large caps. In case corporate results lend a helping hand the movement could be stronger and faster. Also, developments on the geo-political front would also be at the back of the mind of investors.

In such a scenario it makes sense to ride the rally and also book profits stock specifically as and when the opportunity arises. With budget three weeks away, expect markets to start reacting to expected events in the budget.

(Arun Kejriwal is the founder of Kejriwal Research and Investment Services. The views expressed are personal)

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Middle East

Iranian supreme leader urges expanded regional cooperation




Ali Khamenei

Tehran, Jan 13 : Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Sunday urged to expand cooperation among regional states.

The current situation of the region makes regional cooperation and the avoidance of reliance on foreigners a necessity, Khamenei said during a meeting with the visiting Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Xinhua reported.

Iran has repeatedly announced that it is ready for closer cooperation with the regional states, he said.

Khamenei also called for promoting economic ties between Iran and Qatar.

For his part, the Qatari emir said “we also agree with your remarks considering the enhancement of cooperation among the regional countries, and believe that comprehensive dialogue should be held among the regional countries.”

He also expressed his gratitude for Iran’s supports to Qatar when the latter was sanctioned by some Arabic states over the past years.

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