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Month: July 2018

The Geopolitics of Kashmir

China, India and Pakistan, all three of which are nuclear states, have vital strategic interests in Kashmir.

Kashmir shares borders with Afghanistan, a country where South Asia meets Central Asia.

Central Asia is a geographic bridge between Europe and other parts of Asia.

Kashmir is a vital geographic component to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC).

Besides the benefits of connecting to Europe and elsewhere, there are other advantages in access to Central Asia.

The region is home to huge natural resources, hydrocarbons and minerals, which both China and India are craving.

Furthermore, the landlocked region’s consumer markets – a population of 70 million – are open for exploitation.

Kashmir’s geographic accessibility to Central Asia – via Afghanistan – makes the position of Kashmir, very significant.

Pakistan intends to use infrastructure built under the CPEC initiative to connect ‘directly by-land’ to both China and Central Asia.

For its part, China wants to secure access to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean via CPEC to avoid naval blockades.

China’s access to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean would ensure a Chinese naval presence close to India’s waters.

India also wants to create a trade route linking Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia and Europe.

Currently, India have to sail through the Arabian Sea to reach Iranian ports from which freight then proceeds over land.

But India’s regional connectivity plans known as the “International North-South Corridor” are time-consuming and costly.

If it wasn’t for Pakistan-Kashmir which stands between India-administered Kashmir and Afghanistan, India would have had a ‘direct by-land’ route access to Afghanistan, Central Asia, Russia, and Europe.

As well as trade routes, the glacial waters that flow via Kashmir provide water and electricity to a billion people in India.

Pakistan also relies heavily on glacial waters flowing from the region to prop up its agricultural sector.

With an increased need for electricity, India has looked to the region to develop more hydro facilities.

Pakistan fears that India may divert water necessary for irrigation, and use water as a weapon against Pakistan.

Kashmir is thus a major national security issue for both nations, the control of which could pose an existential threat to the other.

Kashmir will remain a major national security for both India and Pakistan, as well as play a critical role for China.

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Top 5 Facts About the Kurdish People

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Kurds have a long history of political marginalisation and persecution, and have repeatedly risen up, particularly in Iraq and Turkey, in pursuit of greater autonomy or complete independence. In this article we present you with five top facts about the Kurds to better help us understand their significance in the Middle East.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: The most populous Kurdish community is in Turkey – Est 14.3-20 Million”]In Turkey the Kurdish settlement area comprises the 23 vilayets (departments) of eastern and south-eastern Anatolia and the Kurdish districts of Sivas and Marash covering an area of about 230,000 square kilometers. The territory, which the Kurds call Northern Kurdistan (Kurdistana Bakur), has 14.2 million inhabitants in 2016. According to several surveys, 86% of them are Kurds, the remainder being Arab minorities (Urfa , Mardin, Siirt) and Turkish (mainly military, police and civil servants), as well as Syriacs and Armenians. So in 2016 there are about 12.2 million Kurds still living in Kurdistan in Turkey.

We know that there are also strong Kurdish communities in the big Turkish metropolises like Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara, Adana and Mersin. The numerical importance of this “diaspora” is estimated according to sources at 7 to 10 million, of which more than 3 million in Istanbul, which is the largest Kurdish city in the world and where in the June 2015 elections the pro-Kurdish HDP party won 11 seats of deputies.

Assuming an average estimate of 8 million Kurds in the Turkish part of Turkey, thus arrives at the figure of 20 million Kurds in Turkey, about 25% of the total population of this country.

Kurdish people celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari – RC1655D8A340

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: The Kurds were used as pawns by Britain after World War 1″]After the First World War, the Kurds like other nationalists within the Ottoman Empire sought the creation of a nation-state. The dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire had left chaos and a political vacuum in the Kurdish-inhabited regions of South-Eastern Anatolia and Northern Iraq. The Kurdish nationalists, like other nationalists within the Empire, tried to take advantage of this situation and establish a Kurdish State. However, British strategy following the First World War was primarily oriented towards containing the Bolshevik threat, and in the Middle East this necessitated enhancing the territorial unity of Iraq, Iran and Turkey. For this reason, the United Kingdom, which had initially encouraged nationalism as a counter to Turkey’s pan-Islamism, opposed the establishment of a Kurdish state in an attempt to appease Kemalist Turkey during the Lausanne peace negotiations. The Lausanne Treaty, which was signed on 24 July 1923, formalised the de facto division of Kurdish-inhabited lands among Turkey, Iraq and Syria.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: The Kurds were used as pawns by America in 1975″]In March 1975, the desperate Kurds begged the Central Intelligence Agency: “Our people’s fate in unprecedented danger. Complete destruction hanging over our head. No explanation for all this. We appeal you and U.S. government intervene according to your promises.”

The promise to which they were referring was a U.S. promise to support the Kurds if they would provide the troops for a covert action against Saddam Hussein – if they would be the pawns in the great powers’ game.

In the 1970s, Iran and Iraq were quarrelling over a number of border disputes. In the hope of keeping the Iraqis preoccupied and busy, the Shah offered money and arms to the Kurds to fight Saddam Hussein. But the Kurds didn’t trust the Shah and made their acceptance conditional upon an American guarantee that Iran would not cut the lifeline to the Kurdish uprising.

Iran expert Trita Parsi says the CIA and the State Department counseled against the covert action because of the inevitability of the Shah’s betrayal of the Kurds. But Henry Kissinger took the opposing position, and, following a 1972 visit to Tehran by Kissinger and President Richard Nixon, the U.S. promised the Shah American support for the Kurds: the Americans promised to support the Kurds.

Nixon signed off on the covert operation on August 1, 1972; Kissinger made the arrangements for the covert war, and the CIA took charge of it. The support took the form of $5 million and weapons, but by the following year, Kissinger had backed, and Nixon had approved, greater U.S. aid that would eventually reach over $20 million dollars and more than 1,250 tons of weapons and munitions.

But by 1975, the U.S. backed Kurdish uprising was in trouble. The U.S. eventually came to the conclusion that the Kurds could only be saved by an Iranian military intervention. The Shah was providing much more money than the Americans, but he was not willing to commit his armed forces. He refused and, instead, began negotiating a border settlement with Saddam Hussein. The Shah received territory in exchange for ending support for the Kurds. According to investigative journalist Robert Fisk, it was Kissinger—one of the guarantors of the promise to support the Kurds–who hammered out this agreement between the Shah and Saddam and, so, abandoned the Kurds.

Financial aid and arms stop flowing to the Kurds, and Saddam slaughtered perhaps as many as 182,000 Kurds. Many more fled to Iran as refugees. That’s when the first 1975 Kurdish appeal was made to America. Kurdish leader, Mullah Mustapha Brazani would personally appeal to Kissinger, one of the authors of American assurances, that “We feel … the United States has a moral and political responsibility toward our people who have committed themselves to your country’s policy.”

Kissinger never answered, though, according to CIA expert John Prados, his station chief in Tehran had argued that he should and gave him options.  Kissinger abandoned the Kurds with the famous reminder that “Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.”

Full Article on Consortium News[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Kurdish politics are divided between two groups and two families”]There are two major parties inside Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Each is led, at the moment, by a member of one of Kurdistan’s two leading families, the Barzanis and the Talabanis. This division essentially defines internal Kurdish politics.

For a while, the KDP was the only major Kurdish party operating in Iraq. In 1975, the PUK broke off, led by Jalal Talabani and five others (including the current Iraqi president, Fuad Masum). Today, they’re strong in different areas of Kurdistan: the KDP in the north, and the PUK in the south. There doesn’t appear to be much of an ideological disagreement: as Missouri State University Professor David Romano writes, “the PUK itself came in practice and behavior to resemble the KDP so much that the average Kurds were often unable to specify a single policy or ideological disagreement between the two.”

Still, Kurds’ political split can cause serious problems. In the 1990s, it degenerated into open warfare between armed groups loyal to each party. It got to the point where, in 1996, the KDP asked for Saddam‘s help in rooting the PUK out of Erbil, which it controlled. This has ended, and the two parties have formed a sort of tactical alliance, but the point is that the Kurds aren’t totally united. And neither is their government, or their military.

Extract from Vox

An Iraqi Kurdish street vendor holds banners bearing portraits of President of Iraqi Kurdistan autonomous region, Massud Barzani (L) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (R) on April 27, 2014, in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Iraqis go to the polls in April 30’s general election, the first national poll since US troops left in 2011. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED (Photo credit should read SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images)

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Saddam Hussein gassed 5,000 Kurds at Halabja in a chemical attack in 1988″]Article Source

On March 16, 1988, as many as 5,000 Iraqi Kurds, mostly women and children, were killed when deadly gas was released on the northern town of Halabja by Saddam Hussein’s forces.

AFP remembers the massacre, believed to have been the worst-ever gas attack targeting civilians. In the final months of the eight-year Iraq-Iran war, ethnic Kurdish fighters who sided with Iran capture the large farming town of Halabja in Iraq on March 15.

Home to more than 40,000 people, the town is in the Kurdistan region and just 11 kilometres (seven miles) from the Iran border, while 250 kilometres from the Iraqi capital.

Saddam’s army retaliates with artillery and air strikes. The Kurdish fighters and most of the town’s men withdraw to surrounding hills, leaving behind the children, women and elderly.

The following day, Iraqi fighter planes circle above the area for five hours, releasing a mixture of toxic gases.

The slaughter is quickly revealed: the fighters who come down from the hills give the alert and foreign journalists are soon on the scene.
By March 23, the first images are broadcast on Iranian television.

Corpses scatter the streets with no obvious sign of injury, although witnesses say later some had blood around their noses.

The cameras of journalists brought in by the Iranian army linger on the bodies of the children. The town is the victim of a chemical weapon attack, say the commentaries, using official Iranian explanations that accuse Iraq of responsibility.

A Belgian-Dutch team from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the first foreign medical mission to reach Halabja, confirms the use of mustard gas and probably of cyanide.

“Our conclusion is clear: the civilian population was gassed,” it says.
An AFP special envoy, Michel Leclerq, describes the horror in a story filed on April 1.

“Not the slightest stir, not a cry, not a movement: Halabja … seems frozen, immobilised in a deep sleep, while canons thunder in the distance,” the report says.

The “houses remain standing, the stores are full” but “no soul lives here since Iraqi planes released their deadly poison”.
Many of the thousands who fled are in camps in Iran.

A French MSF team estimates the number of dead at 2,000-3,000. Teheran gives a toll of 5,000. A Belgian toxicologist says in May that analysis shows that several gases were used including mustard gas and nerve agents.

He estimates that 3,800 people were killed and 10,000 poisoned.
Analysts say afterwards the attack may have been in revenge for the Kurdish fighters’ support of the Iranian army in the 1980-1988 war.
Justice comes more than 20 years later when General Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali” for ordering poisonous gas attacks, is hanged in 2010.

A cousin of Saddam, he is found by the courts to have ordered the attack on Halabja.

He gets four death sentences, including for Halabja, but insists he acted in the interests of Iraqi security and expresses no remorse.
In 2012, the Iraqi government hands Halabja authorities the rope used in his hanging.

Saddam is hanged in 2006 for another atrocity, closing various investigations under away against him, including for genocide of the Kurds.

Foreign Policy magazine reveals in 2013 that the United States provided Iraq with intelligence on preparations for an Iranian offensive during the war knowing Baghdad would respond with chemical weapons.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” said retired Air Force colonel Rick Francona, a military attache in Baghdad during the 1988 attack.

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Top 5 Facts About Pakistan’s COAS Qamar Javed Bajwa

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Earlier this year, the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Bajwa was ranked in Forbes Magazine as one of the most important people in the world. In light of this, we look at 5 top facts about Qamar Javed Bajwa.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Bajwa comes from an army family background.”]Bajwa was born on 11 November 1960 in Karachi to a Punjabi Jat family belongs from Ghakhar Mandi. His father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Pakistani army. Lieutenant Colonel Muhammad Iqbal Bajwa died while in service in 1967 in Quetta, Balochistan. His mother died in September 2013. Bajwa’s father-in-law was also a Pakistan Army officer who retired as a Major General. General Qamar Bajwa is the youngest of five siblings.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Bajwa is a graduate of American and Canadian Military Education”]Bajwa completed his secondary and intermediate education from F. G. Sir Syed College and Gordon College in Rawalpindi before joining Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul in 62nd Long Course. Bajwa is a graduate of Canadian Army Command and Staff College in Canada, Naval Postgraduate School in United States and National Defense University, Pakistan. General Qamar Javed Bajwa was commissioned in 16 Baloch Regiment on 24 October 1980. This regiment alone has produced three out of the sixteen army chiefs in the past – General Yahya, General Aslam Baig and General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.

030408-N-1825-005
Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, Calif., (Apr. 8, 2003) — Naval Postgraduate School enlisted Sailors join NPS Superintendent and Chief of Staff in recognizing their Retention Honor Roll Pennant, which represents the NavyÕs corporate universityÕs high retention rate of 98 percent for the last quarter of 2002. U.S. Navy Photo by Javier B. Chagoya. (RELEASED)

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Bajwa has served as a UN Peacekeeper in Congo”]Bajwa has also commanded a brigade in United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo in 2007. He served in Congo as a brigade commander in 2007 under former Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army Bikram Singh, who was serving there as a division commander. Gen Singh later termed Bajwa’s performance there as “professional and outstanding” and praised his work ethics throughout the term of his service under the Indian General.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Bajwa said “We have no threats from India, in fact we have threats from the extremists between us.“”]In 2014, Bajwa, who was the then Corps Commander Rawalpindi, had said: “we have no threat from India, in fact we have threats from the extremist between us”.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Bajwa was named in Forbes 2018 List as one of the 75 most powerful people in the world.”]

Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Jawed Bajwa’s name was included by Forbes magazine list as one of the 75 most powerful people in the world.

Bajwa was honoured with the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Hilal-e-Imtiaz, was ranked 68th among a list of 75 people.

According to the magazine, four factors were taken into account to select each individual: how many people over whom they have power; the financial resources they control; if they have influence in more than one sphere; and how actively they wield their power to change the world.

75 people “who make the world turn” are featured in the 2018 list. General Bajwa is a newcomer to the list along with Saudia Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salmanm who ranks at number 8, and France’s President Emmanuel Macron, who ranks number 12.

According to Forbes, General Bajwa, once served in Congo under the ex-chief of the Indian army, who praised the army chief’s professionalism.

CHIEF OF ARMY STAFF GENERAL QAMAR JAVED BAJWA CALLED ON PRIME MINISTER MUHAMMAD NAWAZ SHARIF AT PM HOUSE ISLAMABAD ON 31ST JANUARY 2017.

 

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The PLIGHT of the UYGHURS | KJ VIDS

Little is known about the brutal oppression Uyghurs face by the Chinese Authorities in the autonomous territory of northwest China called East Turkestan or “Xinjiang”.

In the last 12-18 months, China has put more than a million Uyghurs in Nazi style concentration camps, where they are held without charge or any terms of release.

There have been many reports that Muslims have been forbidden from fasting during Ramadan, forbidden from wearing their traditional dress and even keeping a beard.

As of 2017, the Uyghur language has been banned from schools and a religious crack-down has morphed into a total ban of Islam. They have demolished thousands of mosques (almost 70 percent) in Kashgar city and confiscated religious books, including the Quran.

During nearly six decades of annexation, China has pursued a policy of assimilation and changed the demographics of the region.

In 1949, Uyghurs represented 75% of the total population whilst the Hans only represented 7%. Through a policy of internal migration which incentivises Han settlers with economic packages, China has diluted the population. Now Uyghurs only represent 46% of the total population whilst the Chinese Han represent 40%.

Despite the Uyghurs having a rich history of over a thousand years in East Turkestan, China is imposing a forced assimilation policy upon the predominantly Turkic-speaking Uyghur Muslims. This has created new levels of tensions which China has responded to through the use of overwhelming force and political repression.

The reason for this oppression is because Uyghurs are seen as a barrier to Xi’s Jinping’s ambitions to use Xinjiang as springboard to Central Asia and beyond. Central Asia has vast energy resources, and the oil and natural gas doesn’t have to be loaded into tankers and shipped by sea. Instead, it is moved by pipeline in a steady flow to China’s booming coast. And the gateway to Central Asia is Xinjiang.

The current use of concentration camps as a tool of collective punishment of Uyghurs is designed to assimilate the indigenous population so that they adhere to the Chinese Communist party’s values. Raise awareness of the Uyghurs by liking and sharing this video.

Top 5 Facts About Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On Sunday 22nd July 2018, Pakistan‘s top court said it had begun reviewing statements made by a judge alleging the country’s spy agencies were influencing judicial proceedings, as the powerful military called for an investigation.

Pakistan‘s July 25 general elections have been hit by accusations of pre-poll rigging with ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party accusing the military of influencing the judiciary to deny it a second term.

Islamabad high court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui accused the country’s premier spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), of interfering in legal cases.

“The ISI is fully involved in trying to manipulate the judicial proceedings,” Siddiqui said in a speech to lawyers, adding the agency had told the court not to release Sharif and his daughter Maryam until after the elections.

Public criticism of the military by senior officials is rare in Pakistan, which has been ruled by the armed forces for half its 71-year history. In light of this ground breaking development we take a look at the top 5 facts about Pakistan’s Intelligence Agency (ISI).[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Pakistan’s ISI was founded in 1948 by a British army officer, Major General William Cawthorne”]The Australian-born Major-General Robert “Bill” Cawthome, once a British Army officer who had later joined the Pakistan Army, remains the longest-serving Director General of the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) for over nine years from 1950 to 1959. Research shows that General Robert Cawthome had laid down the basic principles of the ISI, together with a Pakistan Navy Commander, Syed Muhammad Ahsan, who is officially acknowledged to have played an integral part in managing the recruitment and expansion of this world class spy agency.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: ISI is rated one of best-organised intelligence agencies in the developing world”]Sometimes described as a state within a state with virtually no oversight. ISI is best known for the firm control it exercises over Pakistans politics and its role in protecting the military from domestic opposition. The ISI is seen as the Pakistani equivalent to Israel’s Mossad. The size of the ISI is not publicly known but it is widely believed to employ tens of thousands of agents, including many in the media.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Pakistani intelligence services organised the Afghan resistance against the Sovet Invasion in 1979″]The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was seen by Pakistan as a grave threat to its national security. It also presented Pakistan with a major avenue to build on its 1973 policy of empowering dissident Islamists against the governments in Kabul.

Furthermore, Pakistan had been a partner of the United States in the Cold War since the 1950s, and this cooperation had provoked numerous Soviet threats over the years.  The new leader of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, who seized power in a 1977 military coup, was a fervent anti-communist.

General Zia approached the United States for help with organizing a religious resistance against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) also began funding the Afghan resistance in 1979.  Accepted doctrine was that America would not overtly reveal its hand in a proxy war with the Soviets, and therefore the CIA worked through its ally Pakistan.
Zia insisted that Islamabad would decide who in Afghanistan received American aid, and the arbiters of this policy ultimately became Pakistan’s spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the Pakistani Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, which supported Zia’s dictatorship.

As the war progressed and as US and the Saudi Arabia led Arab funding for the mujahideen skyrocketed, the Pakistani government and the ISI gained enormous influence in Afghan affairs.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: ISI has been accused by a high court judge of meddling in the Pakistani elections”][/ms-protect-content]

Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Siddiqui has rather sensationally accused the ISI of meddling with judicial processes and declared that the intelligence agency doesn’t want Nawaz and his daughter Maryam out of jail until the elections are over. Siddiqui has clashed with the army before and his remarks prompted an immediate response from ISPR chief Asif Ghafoor, who asked the Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar to take legal notice of a national institution being maligned — which the chief justice has since done.

The speech by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui to lawyers in Rawalpindi was the latest public indictment of the military’s interference in politics. The parts of the speech that were critical of the ISI were not aired by local television news networks but short video clips went viral on social media.

The judge accused the ISI of influencing and pressuring the court that convicted and sentenced Mr. Sharif and his relatives. On July 17, the Islamabad High Court deferred the hearings of the appeals by Mr. Sharif against the court verdict until after elections.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Pakistan’s ISI has been described by the US authorities as a terrorist organisation in secret files obtained by the Guardian”][/ms-protect-content]

US authorities describe the main Pakistani intelligence service as a terrorist organisation in secret files obtained by the Guardian.

Recommendations to interrogators at Guantánamo Bay rank the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) alongside al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon as threats. Being linked to any of these groups is an indication of terrorist or insurgent activity, the documents say.

“Through associations with these … organisations, a detainee may have provided support to al-Qaida or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or coalition forces [in Afghanistan],” says the document, dated September 2007 and called the Joint Task Force Guantánamo Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants. It adds that links to these groups is evidence that an individual poses a future threat.[/vc_toggle][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_facebook][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4988″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” css_animation=”bounceInUp” link=”https://www.fundmypage.com/postbanner”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Top 5 Facts About Turkish-Israel Relations

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The leaders of Turkey and Israel have exchanged angry remarks, further straining the countries’ already tense bilateral relations. The war of words, which erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised a controversial law adopted by Israel’s parliament last week, which defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. In light of these latest developments, we present you with the top five facts about Israel-Turkish Relations.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel”]Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel, in 1949, and the states enjoyed relatively warm relations for many decades. Turkey and Israel shared many interests in the region as allies of the West and modern, relatively secular countries in a region dominated by Arab nationalism and religious conservatism.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Turkey is Israel’s 11th largest trading partner”]Below is a list showcasing 15 of Israel’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Israeli shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage consumption of total Israeli exports.

  1. United States: US$17.2 billion (28.2% of total Israeli exports)
  2. United Kingdom: $5.2 billion (8.5%)
  3. Hong Kong: $4.2 billion (6.9%)
  4. China: $3.3 billion (5.5%)
  5. Belgium: $2.7 billion (4.5%)
  6. Netherlands: $2.3 billion (3.8%)
  7. India: $1.9 billion (3.2%)
  8. France: $1.7 billion (2.9%)
  9. Germany: $1.6 billion (2.7%)
  10. Switzerland: $1.5 billion (2.4%)
  11. Turkey: $1.4 billion (2.4%)
  12. Italy: $935.4 million (1.5%)
  13. Brazil: $905.5 million (1.5%)
  14. South Korea: $894.1 million (1.5%)
  15. Japan: $844.2 million (1.4%)

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Turkey has formally downgraded relations with Israel three times since Israel’s creation”]Three times in the past decades, in 1956, 1980, and 2011, Turkey initiated a formal downgrading of relations with Israel.

1956: Israel invaded Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and occupied the Suez Canal, after which Turkey downgrades its diplomatic representation to the level of charges d’affaires.

1980: Turkey announced its plan to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel to a symbolic level after the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law in 1980 —Turkey cited Israel’s continued “unconciliatory” policy on Middle East problems.

2010: Turkey suspended diplomatic relations with Israel in the wake of the deadly Mavi Marmara incident. In 2016 Israel accepted Turkish preconditions for normalising relations, including demands to compensate families of Mavi Marmara victims. Israel paid about $20 million into a compensation fund for the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara. Turkey, in turn, dropped criminal charges it had filed against Israeli officers.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Israeli President Shimon Peres was the first Israeli statesman to address the Turkish parliament, in 2007″]

Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to speak before the legislature of a Muslim country.

“We may be saying different prayers, but our eyes are turned toward the same sky and toward the same vision for the Middle East,” Peres told an audience that included the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the Turkish prime minister, Abdullah Gul.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Israel is the most hated country in Turkey”]A 2014 Pew Research poll  found that Israel is the most hated country by Turkish citizens. Responders were asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a selection of states (US, China, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Israel) and entities (such as the European Union and Nation).

Israel was found the most disliked country of the offered options, with 86 percent of responders saying they have an unfavourable opinion of Israel and only 2 percent seeing Israel in a positive light.

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Top 5 Facts About Pakistan’s Military

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The military of Pakistan has played a critical role since its inception in 1947. Amidst the 2018 General Elections, the Pakistani military is very much part of the debate due to its historical influence in shaping governance in Pakistan. Here are five top facts about the Pakistani military you need to know.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Pakistan has the 6th largest available manpower in the world”]According to global fire power, the Pakistani military is one of the largest forces in the world, in terms of active personnel.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Pakistan is the third largest contributor to United Nations “peacekeeping missions.“”]Pakistan is the third largest contributor to United Nations’ peacekeeping missions the world over, officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Senate.

Officials said that as many as 7,123 Pakistani peacekeepers – including 6,703 personnel of armed forces, 74 military experts, 66 staff officers and 280 police officials – were currently deployed for seven different UN peacekeeping missions in Congo, Darfur, Haiti, Liberia, West Sahara, Central African Republic and Sudan.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Pakistan will deploy the largest number of troops on polling day of the 2018 General Elections in its history”]Over 370,000 troops have been deployed for Pakistan’s General Elections 2018. This is the largest military deployment on a polling day in the nation’s history. The army said it would deploy 371,388 troops at 85,000 polling stations.

The military said in a statement that the troops along with local security agencies will provide a “safe and secure environment” for voting amid concerns over terror attacks.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Pakistan’s Military has ruled Pakistan for nearly half the country’s history”]The military has ruled Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country, through various coups for nearly half the country’s history since it gained independence in 1947. Even during civilian rule, the country’s generals have wielded enormous power, setting the agenda for the country’s foreign and security policies.

Muhammed Ayub Khan rose to power in 1958. He suspended the constitution which had been adopted two years earlier and ensured that the new one gave him ample powers.

In 1977, Muhamed Zia-ul-Haq grabbed power in a coup. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the ousted prime minister, was sentenced to death and executed in 1979.

Pervez Musharraf toppled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1999 just when Sharif had decided to fire him as top army leader after a failed military campaign in the Kargil region of Kashmir. Musharraf held onto power until 2008.

(FILES) In this photograph taken on November 28, 2007, then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (L) salutes as he arrives with then newly appointed army chief General Ashfaq Kiyani during the change of command ceremony in Rawalpindi. A Pakistani court on April 18, 2013, has ordered the arrest of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf for his controversial decision to dismiss judges when he imposed emergency rule in 2007, officials said. It was not immediately clear if or when the retired general would be arrested. Musharraf swept out of the Islamabad court, facing no resistance from a heavy security contingent and driving away in a jeep escorted by his bodyguards. AFP PHOTO/Aamir QURESHI/FILES

 

https://youtu.be/Ovkld1wiFVw

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to test the “Ultimate Nuclear Missile””]

Pakistan tested a ballistic missile with a multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV), the United States confirmed.

During testimony to Congress outlining worldwide threats on March 6, Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), stated : “In January 2017, Pakistan conducted the first test launch of its nuclear-capable Ababeel ballistic missile, demonstrating South Asia’s first MIRV payload.”

It appeared to be the first time a U.S. official publicly confirmed that Islamabad tested a MIRVed missile; however, in a report last year on missile threats around the world, the Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee noted, “In January 2017, [Pakistan] began testing the MIRVed Ababeel MRBM.”

Pakistani military personnel stand beside long-range ballistic Shaheen II missiles during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad on March 23, 2015. Pakistan held its first national day military parade for seven years, a display of pageantry aimed at showing the country has the upper hand in the fight against the Taliban. Mobile phone networks in the capital were disabled to thwart potential bomb attacks, some roads were closed to the public and much of the city was under heavy guard for the event. AFP PHOTO/ Aamir QURESHI

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Mesut Ozil Quits International Football

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MESUT ÖZIL – RACISM IN FOOTBALL

Mesut Özil is considered one of the greatest midfielders of his
generation.

The Arsenal midfielder quit international football, citing “racism and disrespect” he has faced in Germany.

In a lengthy statement posted on social media, he said he did not feel accepted in German society.

“Is it because it is Turkey? Is it because I’m a Muslim? I think here lays an important issue.”

He says he received hate mail and threats and was being blamed for Germany’s disappointing World Cup.

He felt singled out because of his Turkish heritage and his meeting with the Turkish President in May.

Ozil also cited statements from Germanpoliticians, racist taunts from fans and hate mail leading up to his decision.

Several other prominent European players of foreign descent also cited the same grievance.

“I am German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose,”

Thousands took to Twitter to support Ozil and lay scorn at the abuse Muslim and African players are subjected to in Europe.

Mesut Ozil’s story shows that despite the slogans, racism has not been kicked out of football.

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Top 5 Facts About Mesut Özil

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On Sunday 22nd July 2018, Mesut Özil, the professional German football player, announced that he was quitting the German national team in three lengthy and explosive social media posts that cited “racism and disrespect” he has faced in Germany over his Turkish roots. Here are five top facts about Mesut Özil.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Mesut Özil received a prestigious German award as an example of “integration“ in German Society.”]In November 2010, Mesut Özil received the ‘Bambi Award’ in the ‘Integration’ category. He stole the show and was hailed as prime example of successful integration into German society. Upon his reward he said “This is a great honor for me and I’m very happy… Integration creates something new and makes for a more colorful Germany.”

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Mesut Ozil recited the Holy Quran before World Cup matches”]

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Mesut Özil is the most expensive German player of all time”]The star attacking midfielder became the most expensive German player of all time when he was acquired by Arsenal in 2013 for £42.5 million.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Mesut Özil donated his 2014 World Cup winnings (est £240,000) to help sick Brazilian children for surgery”]Mesut Ozil was unveiled as an ambassador for the Big Shoe initiative, which uses the FIFA World Cup as inspiration to fund operations for young people around the world. The Big Shoe initiative was launched in 2006, ahead of the World Cup in Germany. [/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Mesut Özil visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, home to 80,000 people displaced due to the Syrian civil war. “]

The German playmaker visited Zaatari Refugee Camp in the northeast of Jordan and joined Syrian boys and girls under the age of 13 in two short football matches.

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Top 5 Facts About Shehbaz Sharif

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Shehbaz is the longest serving minister in the history of Punjab spanning over 11 years of rule”]His tenures involved the 1997 Nawaz Government, 2008 Pakistan Peoples Party’s regime and 2013 PML-N’s rule. He is known for launching “mega-projects” in the public sector including infrastructure development, transit projects and power plants and is criticised over a lack of priorities, spending development funds mostly in Lahore and large cities, nepotism, conflict of interests and misuse of authority by opposition parties.

One of his projects known as the “Sasti Roti scheme” was scrapped after the Rs7.85 billion loan debt accrued from commercial banks was left unpaid by the food department owing to non-provision of funds earmarked in the financial years 2009-10 and 2010-11, according to the Express Tribune.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Sharif spent years of self-exile in Saudi Arabia”]

After a coup in 1999, Shehbaz Sharif spent years of self-exile in Saudi Arabia, returning to Pakistan in 2007. Shehbaz was appointed as a CM for a second term after the PML-N’s victory in the province in the 2008 general elections.

While in exile in Saudi Arabia, Shehbaz was elected as the president of PML-N in August 2002 and moved to the United Kingdom in mid-2003 for medical treatment.

He was re-elected as the president of PML-N for a second term in August 2006 and returned to Pakistan along with Nawaz Sharif in November 2007.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Shebaz has married five times and currently has two wives “]

Sharif has married with 5 women so far. He first married his cousin Begum Nusrat Shahbaz in the year 1973, who was a mother of 5 of his children including Hamza Sharif, Salman Sharif and three daughters. Nusrat Shahbaz died in the year 1993.

His second marriage was with the sister of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officer Tariq Khosa in the same year of his first wife’s death. The name of his second wife is Nargis Khosa.

Aaliya Honey became the third wife of the veteran politician whom he married secretly. But during his exile in Saudi Arabia, Shahbaz Sharif later divorced her.

In the year 2003, Shahbaz Sharif got married with the ex-wife of former governor Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Tehmina Durrani.

The 63-years old politician had his 5th marriage with Kalsoom Hay who was a wife of former DPO Okara Tariq Qureshi with whom he has three children.

Sharif’s two wives’ — Nusrat and Tehmina Durrani — have cumulative assets valued at Rs389 million, according to their asset details shared with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Shehbaz was once issued an issued an arrest warrant by an anti-terrorism court”]

In 2003, an anti-terrorism court issued an arrest warrant for Sharif in a 1998 extrajudicial killings case. Sharif was accused for ordering extrajudicial killings of five people in a fake police encounter in 1998 during his first tenure as Chief Minister of Punjab.

Sharif attempted to return to Pakistan in 2004 to appear before the court, but was forcibly deported back to Saudi Arabia. In August 2007, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave its verdict which allowed Sharif to return to Pakistan.

In September 2007, a court in Pakistan ordered police to arrest Sharif “at whichever airport he lands at” on a 2003 arrest warrant. Sharif denied ordering the alleged killings and said the charges against him were politically motivated.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Shebaz is a multi-millionaire”]

Shehbaz Sharif has total assets worth Rs159,010,066 according to documents obtained by DawnNewsTV.

  • Owns non-agricultural property worth Rs14.8m in Lahore and Murree
  • Owns 670 kanals of agricultural land worth Rs35,000, since most of it is stated to be a gift from his mother
  • Owns two flats in London worth £241,281 and £677,014
  • Has shares in several mills including Hudaibiya Paper Mills worth Rs273,000 (all inherited from father)
  • Owns a “partially gifted” Toyota Land Cruiser (2006 model) worth Rs6.3m
  • Has Rs11.4m in bank balance and cash/prize bonds
  • His wife Nusrat Shahbaz owns two houses worth a total of Rs186.6m
  • His other wife Tehmina Durrani has net assets worth Rs5.8m

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