July 22, 2017

Monsanto sway in Agriculture Ministry

https://www.pgurus.com/monsanto-sway-in-agriculture-ministry/


In a major goof-up, GOI fails to submit before Delhi High Court on GMO involving Monsanto

By Sandhya Jain -

 

July 23, 2017

    

GOI fails to submit before Delhi High Court on GMO

In a shocking development, officials of the Union Ministry of Agriculture deliberately failed to submit the Government of India’s views on the Indian Patent Act and Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 (PPV&FR) before the Delhi High Court closed for vacations on June 5, in a case in which the judgement could impact multiple litigations in which the Centre is involved, regarding seed patents and transgenic traits. Any ruling delivered without knowledge of the Centre’s views on points of law and interpretation in this matter could adversely affect the Indian farmer and consumer.

The lapse is inexcusable because the Proposed Affidavit and Written Submission were prepared well in advance by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and discussed and finalized with joint secretary R.K. Singh and deputy commissioner D.S. Misra of the Ministry.


The case in question is a dispute between Monsanto Technology & others vs. Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd. & others, and the Delhi High Court has completed hearings in the matter. Hence it was imperative that the Union Government’s views be submitted to the Court in writing, before it closed for vacation on June 5, 2017.

The lapse is inexcusable because the Proposed Affidavit and Written Submission were prepared well in advance by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and discussed and finalized with joint secretary R.K. Singh and deputy commissioner D.S. Misra of the Ministry. An Application was sent for affirmation by Shri Sunil Mathews, Advocate. Despite this, the concerned officials made no move to submit the prepared Written Submission, Affidavit, and Application, which action lay within the sole purview of the Ministry as the Government of India cannot be party to a dispute between two private parties.

RSS think tank Swadeshi Jagran Manch called the development a major blow to India’s fight against seed monopolies. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 21, co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan urged that despite this setback, the Government of India should file the written submissions on questions of law, even if the Division Bench has begun to write the judgment during vacations in the absence of the government’s legal stand, because the judgement has not been delivered so far.

Essentially, the case involves a dispute over royalties of Bt Cotton seeds, between Monsanto Technology & others vs. Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd. & others.

This led to a situation in which every State fixed the cotton seed prices for its own State while Monsanto Technology fixed different ‘trait values’ for different States even as it challenged the said enactments by claiming patent rights.


BT Cotton Seed prices have been a contentious issue in India for over a decade and some State Governments and farmers associations had complained to the then existing MRTP Commission. Some State Governments enacted their own laws to regulate cotton seed prices and the ‘trait value’ to be levied. This led to a situation in which every State fixed the cotton seed prices for its own State while Monsanto Technology fixed different ‘trait values’ for different States even as it challenged the said enactments by claiming patent rights.

Given the adverse effects on Indian farmers, the Government of India intervened in their interest and promulgated the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order, 2015 [CSPCO] under the Essential Commodities Act, to fix the price of cotton seeds including ‘trait value’, which would be uniformly applicable across the country, and would also regulate the one sided monopolistic licenses agreements signed with Indian seeds companies, which were hurting Indian farmers economically.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture also filed a reference before the Competition Commission of India [CCI] against Monsanto and its subsidiaries for anti-competitive business practices. The CCI found a strong prima facie case of violation of Section 3 and 4 of the Competition Act and directed an investigation vide order dated 10 February 2016 against Monsanto and its subsidiary companies and the persons involved.

Simultaneously, Monsanto launched a spate of litigations by itself or through subsidiary companies before various forums, challenging the constitutional validity of Cotton Seeds Prices [Control] Order, 2015 in Writ Petition No.12069 of 2015 before the High Court of Delhi. Tushar Mehta and Sunil Mathews, advocate, appeared and filed a detailed reply on behalf of the Government of India.

Mehta came to the conclusion that while the Government of India does not have any locus standi in disputes between two private parties, there are several legal questions raised by both parties…


As the Delhi High Court did not give Monsanto any interim relief in the writ petition filed by its subsidiary company, a petition (Writ Petition No.15173) was filed before the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore by an Association sponsored by Monsanto. Initially, the company secured an ex parte stay, which was later vacated by the High Court of Karnataka. The Government of India intervened and even the appeal filed by the said Association (Writ Appeal No.1125 and 1126 of 2016) was dismissed.

Monsanto and its subsidiary companies have also filed writ petitions against the investigation ordered by the CCI, which are pending before the Delhi High Court.

Sources said that when the Addl. Solicitor General learnt of the appeal before FAO(OS)(COMM.) No. 86 of 2017 filed by Nuziveedu Seeds & others, he studied the matter to ascertain whether any interpretation of law given by Delhi High Court in these proceedings could impact the legal stand of the Union of India in other pending litigations.

Mehta came to the conclusion that while the Government of India does not have any locus standi in disputes between two private parties, there are several legal questions raised by both parties which rest on an interpretation of the Indian Patent Act and Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001. Hence, any decision arrived at by the High Court on the interpretation of law and especially regarding interpretation of Section 3(j) of the Indian Patent Act (which says seeds and life forms cannot be patented) and the applicability of PPV&FR Act for transgenic plants, will directly impact pending matters in which the Union Government has taken or will have to take a specific stand on legal interpretation of various provisions being considered in FAO(OS)(COMM) No.86 of 2017.

Any view that the Court might take on the question of law on exclusions from Section 3(j) of Indian Patents Act will have nation-wide ramifications on agriculture, farmers and the entire population…


Accordingly, the Written Submission prepared for the Agriculture Ministry clearly stated that the law laid down in FAO(OS)(COMM) No. 86 of 2017 can be extended to other crops like rice, wheat, soybean, groundnut etc. and even animals like chicken, pig, sheep, goat etc., wherever a transgenic trait is introduced. Indeed, that is why it was so important that the Delhi High Court be informed of the Centre’s interpretation of the law.

Any view that the Court might take on the question of law on exclusions from Section 3(j) of Indian Patents Act will have nation-wide ramifications on agriculture, farmers and the entire population as their food security would be impacted by monopolies on seeds and plants. As India has nearly 600 million farmers and agriculture accounts for over 26 per cent of the nation’s capital GDP, the legal issue before the Court cannot and should not be decided without the stand of the Government of India being put on record regarding questions of law (and avoiding the dispute between private parties).

This failure to file submissions is probably the first major act of subversion of governmental objectives by officers of a Union Ministry. It remains to be seen what action the Centre takes against officials who have humiliated it before the High Court and risked the future of lakhs of Indian farmers and consumers. Their moral laxity and culpable negligence is self-evident

Sikkim standoff: Pentagon steps in

http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/sikkim-standoff-as-china-gets-aggressive-in-face-off-against-india-doklam-standoff-pentagon-steps-in-5-must-know-points/774620/

“We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions and free of any coercive aspects,” Gary Ross, a defence department spokesman said.Amidst the continuing standoff between Indian and Chinese forces in Doklam region, the Pentagon has expressed concern over the issue and asked both the countries to engage in a direct dialogue free of any “coercive aspects”. The military standoff in Bhutan is still going on even after a month it began. The tensions have escalated after Chinese troops were prohibited by Indian soldiers from building a road in the disputed area. Meanwhile, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said in the Parliament, “We are willing to talk, but both sides have to first take back their armies” but China has said that diplomatic channels with India remained “unimpeded” to discuss the military standoff in Sikkim sector and reiterated that the withdrawal of the Indian troops is a “precondition” for any meaningful dialogue. The three-nation Malabar Naval Exercise involving India, Japan and the United States maritime forces, has also reportedly worried China as the exercise is being held in the backdrop of border tension with China. National security advisor Ajit Doval will head to Beijing on July 27-28 for attending a meeting of BRICS later this month. Here are the five things to know what US has said:

1. “We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions and free of any coercive aspects,” Gary Ross, a defence department spokesman told PTI.

2. US state department, over the past week, too have been making similar statements, but this time Pentagon has sought direct dialogue between India and China on reducing tension “free of any coercive aspects.”

3. Interestingly, Pentagon has refused to take sides on the issue. “We refer you (media persons) to the governments of India and China for further information. We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions. We are not going to speculate on such matters,” Ross said.

4. A top Pentagon commander, a week earlier, had told lawmakers that China is exploiting its economic leverage as a way to its regional political objectives. “As China’s military modernisation continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China’s influence,” General Paul Selva, USAF, has said.

5. Selva added deterring war is an exercise in influencing China’s decision calculus, making diplomacy preferable to conflict and managing crises in such a manner that they do not unintentionally escalate

July 21, 2017

Meet the Mullahs: Pakistan’s Neighborhood Islamist Evangelists


http://dailycaller.com/2017/07/21/meet-the-mullahs-pakistans-neighborhood-islamist-evangelists/

LAWRENCE SELLIN

Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

11:01 PM 07/21/2017

Few appreciate the depth and destructive consequences of Pakistan’s decades-long program to “Islamize” every aspect of the society in every remote corner of the country.

Pakistan’s “Islamization” program was initiated by President Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988), which involved the proliferation of Islamic schools “madrasas” and the promotion of Islamic law “Sharia,” was specifically designed create unity by suppressing ethnic separatism and make Pakistan the global Sunni leader, an effort that eventually led to the proliferation of Islamic terrorist groups within its borders.

Even in the tiny isolated enclave of Pidarek in Balochistan’s western Kech District, Pakistan acquiesces if not actively supports a network that, quite literally, wields radical Islam like a weapon to suppress Baloch nationalism, to conduct ethnic cleansing and to recruit jihadis for Pakistan’s proxy war against Afghanistan.

Lashkar-e-Khorasan (LeK), now an acknowledged affiliate of the Islamic State (ISIS) led by Turbat-resident Mufti Shahmir Aziz Bizenjo, is, according to on-the-ground sources, a long-established group of religiously-motivated individuals and common criminals, who, for many years, have been working with the Taliban and acting as an extrajudicial militia for the Pakistani military. Painting the walls in Turbat with pro-Islamic State slogans, LeK, a Sunni supremacist group, has conducted Islamic “purification” by targeting ethnic minorities like the Shia Hazaras and on August 28, 2014 brutally killed six Zikris. The LeK has dispatched boys as young as ten years old for jihadi training.

The international community has long regarded Pakistan as a transit point for narcotics trafficking. The role of the Pakistan government in narcotics trade was admitted by none other than the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who claimed members of the Pakistan military and intelligence agency, the ISI, needed more money for covert foreign operations and wanted to raise it through large-scale drug deals.

Mufti Shahmir Aziz Bizenjo, who has his own security detail, is the son of Aziz Bizenjo, whose cousin is National Party President and Senator Hasil Bizenjo, currently Pakistan’s Minister for Ports and Shipping.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Imam Bizenjo aka Imam Bheel, one of the drug world’s most notorious opium traffickers and National Party financier, whose son, Yaqoob Bizenjo, served as a member of the Pakistan National Assembly until 2013, is alleged kingpin of this major transit point for opium originating in Afghanistan reaching Gwadar and other ports on the Makran coast for worldwide distribution.

According the local sources, Mufti Shahmir Aziz Bizenjo receives support from the Pakistani intelligence, military assistance from the Pakistani Army Frontier Corps and financial support from the drug mafia.

Within the same local network are the jihadi educators and Taliban recruiters.

Khatib Mohammad Ilyas, according to local sources, gives sermons during Friday “Jumu’ah” prayers at Turbat’s main mosque and operates a very old and large madrasa in Malik Abad, Tehsil Tump, Kech District. He is a member of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F), a Sunni Deobandi political party that promotes the implementation of Sharia, has opposed changes in blasphemy laws and blocked the passage of a bill aimed at preventing domestic violence, because it would “promote Western culture in the Islamic state.” Khatib Mohammad Ilyas, whose son died as a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, is reportedly a main regional recruiter for the Taliban.

Again according to local sources, Mulla Ghulam Ullah is the Imam of a Mosque in Shahi Tump, Turbat. He is the son-in-law of Khatib Mohammad Ilyas and leader of JUI-F in Kech district. Ghulam Ullah, who also has his own security detail, is the chief Islamist indoctrinator of young boys and principal jihadi recruiter for Shahi Tump, Koshkalat and surrounding areas in Kech district. He is leader of the LeK in the Buleda Tehsil area. The Pakistani Army Frontier Corps and such Wahhabi groups are reported to be operating jointly in the Dasht, Buleda and Pidarek regions of Balochistan.

Balochistan is now beginning to resemble Taliban-controlled Afghanistan of the 1990s, a jihadi training hub and a magnet for international terrorism.

Pakistan has successfully used Islamic terrorist groups both to suppress ethnic and nationalist aspirations within its borders and as an instrument of its foreign policy.

Apparently, no amount of reassurance or incentives will divert Pakistan from its present course and permit U.S. and NATO to achieve their objectives in Afghanistan as long as the regional strategic environment remains the same.

An independent, secular Balochistan, free of religious militancy may be the solution.

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired US Army Reserve colonel, an IT command and control subject matter expert, trained in Arabic and Kurdish, and a veteran of Afghanistan, northern Iraq and a humanitarian mission to West Africa. He receives email at lawrence.sellin@gmail.com.

Making Sense of China’s Caribbean Policy

https://jamestown.org/program/making-sense-of-chinas-caribbean-policy/


By: Jared Ward

July 21, 2017 05:02 PM Age: 7 hours

China is connecting its trans-Eurasia/Africa Belt and Road Project to the shores of Panama

While the world’s attention focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connecting China with Eurasia and Africa, China is also making major investments in the Caribbean. In September 2016 the China Harbor Engineering Company (中国港湾工程有限责任公司) agreed to build a mega-port in Jamaica that would make the small island-nation a hub for mammoth Chinese ships soon crossing through an expanded Panama Canal (Jamaica Gleaner, September 24, 2016). Valued at $1.5 billion, the port will become China’s largest in a region that has become a growing target for Chinese aid and diplomatic overtures. Barbados, a small island in the Lesser Antilles, has received millions from Chinese companies to restore historical landmarks and provide free medical care. In March of this year, a visa waiver program was created, aimed at opening the Caribbean paradise to an untapped market of 20-million Chinese tourists. Chinese funds have restored the Baha Mar luxury resort in the Bahamas. In Guyana, Chinese companies have developed the timber, oil, and gold industries.

China’s short and long-term interests in the region appear to be not only motivated by economics but also aimed at connecting nations in America’s backyard to a Maritime Silk Road under Chinese influence. Recent developments in Sino-American relations have magnified the importance of border seas and the Caribbean, like the South China Sea, is likely to become a stage for clashing Chinese and American visions of global politics.

Chinese promises of aid to the Caribbean are consistent with a pattern elsewhere in the developing world. Beijing touts its own success as a developing nation; a rags to riches story of a non-Western power rising to global prominence. Caribbean officials generally view China’s checkbook diplomacy in a positive light. Generous loan terms and willingness to undertake badly needed infrastructure projects have helped offset drying up funds from Western institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The influx of capital and projects bring promises of badly needed jobs for locals and training programs to teach transferable skills that last. However, on the ground, these promises are much more complicated, leaving locals wondering, as one Jamaican official did: “What does China want from us? That’s the big question that everyone has about this: Why?” (Global Post, April 22, 2011).

China’s Increased Caribbean Footprint

In late 2016, the PRC released its first White Paper on Latin America and the Caribbean, laying out guidelines for China’s engagement in the region (FMPRC, November 24, 2016). Xi Jinping’s 2014 visit to Trinidad and Tobago elevated interest in the region. The White Paper lays out broad principles such as noninterference in political affairs (不干涉内政的原则), mutually beneficial relationships (平等互利), and infrastructure and turnkey projects aimed at creating immediate improvements in the local economies. According to Beijing, this focus on addressing local problems is what makes their worldview different from America in the Caribbean. These lofty policy goals and carefully worded political statements are left to Chinese State Owned Enterprises (SOE) and lending banks to be put into practice.

China’s main arms in the Caribbean are a combination of lending banks, individual Chinese investors, and State Owned Enterprises. Chinese financial institutes such as the Chinese Export-Import Bank (中国进出口银行) make funds available to lend to SOE’s that bid on contracts to complete projects. The massive Baha Mar Bahama resort, valued at $2.4 billion, was built by the China Communications Construction Company (中国家桶建设股份在限公司). Chinese officials have also made clear that funds made available for nations involved in the BRI will also include Caribbean nations. Zhu Qingqao (祝青桥), head of the Latin American and Caribbean Affairs Department (拉丁美洲和加勒比司) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) made clear it clear that the Caribbean is part of Maritime Silk Road. In an interview in June with Cuban newspaper Granma, Zhu said that China put investments in Caribbean nations on par with projects receiving more focus in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (Granma, June 2). Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed his country’s interest in formally joining BRI; calling it a “noble expression,” that promoted cooperation and inclusiveness across the developing world (Jamaica Gleaner, June 22).

While China’s invitation for Caribbean nations to join BRI is tempting, Chinese SOE’s in the Caribbean have become embroiled in controversy and unveil a much more complicated reality where Chinese visions of development have mixed results and receptions. Accusations against Chinese companies range from flouting local labor laws to providing job and contracts exclusively to Chinese nationals, to an exploitation of natural resources (NACLA, June 26, 2013). This double-edged sword of Chinese aid to the Caribbean is on display in Guyana, China’s oldest CARICOM ally from the English-speaking Caribbean. Guyanese politicians continue to praise China as an invaluable partner and a potential model to follow to their own successful rise from poverty. In practice, Chinese promises of jobs, housing, and electricity have a mixed legacy that is often more gilded than gold.

Sino-Guyanese Relations: A Case Study in China’s Caribbean Policy

Guyana reluctantly embraces a paradox common to many developing states: rich in natural resources with poor economies. Besides its vast tracts of rain forest rich in lumber harvest, the discovery of an offshore oil and gas field earlier this year may make the small nation a major oil producer in the region (NYTimes, January 13). While China has shown a recent interest in these natural resources, Sino-Guyanese relations trace back to Guyana’s first Prime Minister Forbes Burnham. In 1972, Guyana went against Cold War currents and became the first former colony of former British West Indies to grant Beijing, not Taipei, diplomatic recognition. In the early years of the relationship, China would use Guyana as a laboratory of sorts and the site of its first foreign aid project in the Western Hemisphere—the Bel Lu Clay Brick Factory. The brick factory promised to make 10-million bricks a year; however, due to mismanagement and a lack of Chinese enthusiasm to step back in, the factory closed in the early 1990s and is now overgrown. Guyana has remained one of China’s most consistent CARICOM partners and in recent years has received millions in medical, military, and technical assistance. Other projects have improved telecommunications and built infrastructure aimed at making Guyana’s natural resources more accessible and further integrating its economy with its neighbors.

However, China has also been the target of criticisms common to its efforts elsewhere in the developing world. Local companies are often shut out of projects; all contracts are awarded to Chinese companies through a secretive bidding process. Furthermore, Chinese job creation promises often fall short and rely primarily on Chinese nationals. Baishanlin (白山林), a recent acquisition of Long Jian Forest Industries, a state-owned enterprise (SOE), has been at the center of a growing controversy and an example of how China’s development program can potentially sour bilateral relations.

Baishanlin arrived in Guyana over a decade ago and made promises familiar to many Caribbean nations. It would be given access to millions of acres of timber reserves in exchange for creating 10,000 local jobs and leaving behind a wood processing plant for the development of Guyana’s forest industry. Job creation has fallen short and those who do work for the SOE have filed grievances over inadequate pay, long hours, and exploitation of natural resources (Stabroek News, July 26, 2016). Additionally, Baishanlin’s promise to build a wood processing plant, a requirement for it to receive tax breaks has not been met, leading the Guyana Forest Commission to seize Chinese owned logging equipment and other assets (Demerara Waves, September 7, 2016). Most recently, the Chinese Development Bank has asked the Guyana government to hold off reallocating Baishanlin owned lands while it gathers the capital to recapitalize the loans owned by the company. (Demerarawaves, April, 19). As for now, the failed promises of Baishanlin remains a grim reminder for those in the region debating whether to widen their relations with Beijing.

Sympathetic Partner or Neo-Colonialist? Making Sense of China’s Caribbean Policy:

Guyana shows the double-edged sword of Chinese investment but also provides insights into China’s foreign policy toward the region as a whole. The entire Caribbean region has only 41-million people and there is little indication Chinese tourists are willing to make the around-the-world trip for vacation. What then is China’s interest in pouring billions of dollars into a region that can promise little in return? One possibility is that China’s policy is directed at Taiwan. The Caribbean is one of the last bastions for Taipei’s dwindling diplomatic alliances. The Dominican Republic, Belize, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent still recognize Taipei—not Beijing. This frames China’s checkbook diplomacy as a carrot to draw away Taiwan’s allies and isolate Taipei further politically. While the “One-China” policy does remain significant in all of China’s relations, this only explains a charm offensive toward nations like Panama, which until recently retained relations with Taiwan. China’s largest partners in the region—Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, and Barbados—have recognized Beijing exclusively since the 1970s.

China’s push for closer relations with these Caribbean nations was part of a pivot toward the ‘Third World’ in the waning years of the Mao Zedong Era (1949–1976). In the early 1970s, nations like Guyana and Jamaica became part of a Third World bloc that helped push the PRC’s final bid for UN membership. China’s initial interest in the Caribbean coincided with the beginning stages of Sino-American rapprochement when security anxieties about growing Sino-Soviet hostilities brought China from the recluses of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The Caribbean became part a vast Third World that included Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America in which Mao envisioned China more fit to lead than the industrialized, white, Soviet Union or America. The Caribbean has always been unable to offer Beijing the same natural resources or strategic military alliances with countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. However, geopolitically the region provides economic and symbolic incentives for China’s investments. Many of China’s largest infrastructure projects, like ports in the Bahamas and Jamaica, will be used to accommodate larger volumes of cargo coming from China for transshipment throughout the Western Hemisphere. According to a proposal presented by Baishanlin, the driving force for the China National Development Bank Program’s investment in Guyana is its access to 277-million consumers, a $130-billion export market, and over $2-trillion in buying power. [2]Furthermore, in small Caribbean nations, China’s aid can make a greater impact for less investment; setting Beijing up to better compete with Western companies.

Conclusion

Beyond market access, China’s increased presence in Caribbean affairs can be understood as a subtle jab at American Western Hemisphere dominance at a time when Washington is pushing Beijing in the South China Sea. Xi Jinping, when he was still Vice President of China, visited Jamaica in 2009 and 2013 (Xinhua, February 14, 2009). Xi’s 2013 visit to Trinidad was one of his earliest trips abroad. In an interview before the trip Xi lauded Trinidad and China’s long cultural ties and common paths of development. In both 2009 as VP and later as President he described Sino-Caribbean relations according to an old Chinese saying which says “close friends stay close at heart though thousands of miles apart.” At a time when Washington is accusing China of bullying smaller countries in the South China Sea, Beijing has repeatedly held the Caribbean up as an of America’s history of big-power chauvinism. A Global Times editorial that lashed out against ramped up tensions caused by the US and reminding Washington “The South China Sea is not the Caribbean. It is not a place for the US to behave recklessly.” (Global Times,February 23). Just as China views the South China Sea as a core national interest, Washington views the Caribbean as naturally within its sphere of influence. Success in connecting America’s backyard to the Belt and Road Initiative presents a way for Xi to position China to challenge America in its own hemisphere.

Jared Ward is a Ph.D. Candidate and Associate Lecturer at the University of Akron in the Department of History. His dissertation and research focuses on China’s foreign relations with the Caribbean during the Cold War.

Notes

Peter J. Meyer “US Foreign Assistance to Latin America and the Caribbean: FY 2016. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44113.pdf. January 7, 2016, Congressional Budget OfficeAuthor’s Private Collection

Huge investments go into building Malaysian ports

Melaka Gateway: The deep sea port is reportedly targeted to be a liquid cargo terminal with storage facilities that will benefit oil trading in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

 

EVER since China rolled out its Belt and Road initiative, many countries have received billions of dollars towards infrastructure development to boost trade and investment along the old Silk Road that connects China and many other countries.

For the developing nations along the Silk Road, receiving huge sums of money has boosted economic growth as China aims to intensify linkages with countries.

President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative, which originally aimed at building economic connectivity with 64 countries via infrastructure investments along the old Silk Road and maritime routes, is making positive impact on many countries and Malaysia is a big beneficiary of that.

What is clear is the impact on investment in Malaysia. One of the largest investments inked has been through the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

The first phase of the ECRL will connect Wakaf Baru in Kelantan to ITT Gombak at a cost of RM46bil. The second phase will join the Integrated Transport Terminal Gombak to Port Klang, a distance of 88km, at a cost of RM9bil.

The rail connection between the west and east coasts of Peninsular Malaysia will be a catalyst to not only growth and businesses between the corridors but also create jobs and open up the hinterland of the peninsula to many more business opportunities.

The ECRL linking Port Klang and Kuantan Port will slash 30 hours of travel time for cargo shipping through the Port of Singapore but at a slightly higher cost.

At a recent forum, Universiti Malaya’s Institute of China Studies research fellow Dr Zhang Miao said that the ECRL could alter the traditional trade routes that go through Singapore, since China’s uncertain diplomatic relation with the island republic forces it to explore other alternatives.

China has invested over US$50bil (RM217bil) in countries along the Belt and Road between 2014 and 2016, with total trade exceeding US$3 trillion (RM13 trillion).

But the one big area in China’s investment has been in ports, and Malaysia has been a huge recipient of those investments.

It was reported that Chinese companies will be investing US$7.2bil in the Melaka Gateway, US$2.8bil in the Kuala Linggi Port, US$1.4bil in Penang Port and US$177mil in the Kuantan port projects.

The deep sea port in Melaka is reportedly targeted to be a liquid cargo terminal with storage facilities that will benefit oil trading in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

There will also be a container terminal, break-bulk and dry bulk terminal, shipbuilding and repair services, maritime industrial park and port logistics services at the new port in Melaka.

The Kuala Linggi International Port is reportedly being built near Melaka to handle oil tankers with reports saying the port will target the bunkering business

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/business/business-news/2017/07/22/huge-investments-go-into-building-malaysian-ports/#zWgSP0mxg4CUwYrv.99

Pakistan’s Proudly Double-Dealing Intelligence Service

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/asia/pakistans-proudly-double-dealing-intelligence-service-1093

JULY 20, 2017 | BENNETT SEFTEL

PHOTO: ISTOCK.COM/SALWAR KAMEEZ

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Pakistan’s intelligence organization, known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has ensnared the U.S. in a double game for years.

Operating in the shadows of the Pakistani “deep state” – a term used to reference the country’s political system, which is dictated by unelected military and security officials – the ISI has strategically fashioned a mutually beneficial relationship with the U.S. since the late 1970s and 1980s, when it worked alongside the CIA to funnel money and weapons to mujahideen fighters battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of 9/11, ISI officials claimed to have aided U.S. forces in capturing or killing several top al Qaeda leaders, including Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

At the same time, however, the ISI has never lost sight of its own agenda, which gives priority to counteracting the activities of India, and to ensuring that any government in Kabul owes no allegiance to India. To that end, the ISI supplied the Taliban with weapons and cash to help it rise to power in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Despite denials from senior Pakistani officials, many experts agree that the ISI continues to protect and assist the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), all designated as terrorists by the U.S. government, as part of its strategy to keep Afghanistan on unstable footing and advance its ambitions in the disputed Kashmir region bordering India and Pakistan.

“We know that Pakistan has no interest in a peaceful Afghanistan that would be under the influence of its archenemy India and feels keenly the need for a proxy to protect its interests there,” William Milam, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, told The Cipher Brief. “We know that Pakistan was present at the creation of the Taliban in the mid-1990s and gave them much support in their fight to take over the country. And we know that the Haqqani network, which is allied with the Afghan Taliban, has become a good substitute proxy.” 

The ISI was established in 1948 after the conclusion of the first Indo-Pakistan war, when  Pakistani leaders decided that they needed a much more robust and effective unit to monitor India’s military activities and to provide intelligence to the Pakistani army.

In his book The Idea of Pakistan, Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and expert on South Asia, writes that the ISI was originally responsible for overseeing Pakistan’s foreign intelligence, meaning, “in practical terms, a dominant focus on India but with some attention to Afghanistan, Iran, and other regional states.”

The ISI’s responsibilities expanded into the domestic realm in 1958, when Muhammad Ayub Khan, then-leader of the Pakistani military, seized control of the Pakistani government in a bloody coup and tasked the intelligence agency with collecting information on his political opponents.

But during the second Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, the ISI suffered many intelligence failures. These stumbles led Khan to restructure the agency into seven main divisions, which remain today:

Joint Intelligence X (JIX) – coordinates all other ISI departments, prepares reports and assessments, accounts for all funds, and conducts administrative tasksJoint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) – collects political intelligence inside Pakistan and maintains a special division devoted to operations involving IndiaJoint Counterintelligence Bureau (JCB)– conducts surveillance of Pakistani diplomats stationed abroad and intelligence operations in the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, and specifically in Afghanistan, China, Russia, and IsraelJoint Intelligence North (JIN) – collects intelligence in Jammu and KashmirJoint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) – executes covert operations and espionage missionsJoint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB) – collects signals intelligence and provides communication support along the border with India and in KashmirJoint Intelligence Technical (JIT) –researches and develops new technology

Although the ISI technically falls under the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s Prime Minster, the head of the ISI is appointed by Pakistan’s army chief. For that reason, the organization has stayed loyal to the Pakistani army throughout the years. In fact, Phillip Reiner, former Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council during the Obama Administration, writes that “whenever an elected civilian has been in power in Pakistan, the Chief of Army Staff ensured that the elected Prime Minister did not develop control over ISI.”

Currently, the ISI employs over 10,000 military and civilian personnel, plus a network of thousands of informants inside and outside of Pakistan. In many respects, it acts as a secret police agency.

“ISI’s role over time has included brutal suppression of anti-state rhetoric, fomenting and countering insurgency, providing illicit channels for drug smuggling, acquiring nuclear weapons components, and developing proxy organizations to splinter domestic opposition political parties,” Reiner says.

The ISI exerts a strong grip on Pakistan’s national security apparatus. It pulls strings behind the scenes to dominate Pakistani’s foreign and domestic policies. Many Americans are wary of the ISI, accusing it of providing safe havens to the Haqqani network and Taliban, which are responsible for many U.S. and allied deaths in Afghanistan.

Yet the U.S. still looks to the ISI for intelligence on terrorists operating in the Afghan-Pakistan region. The U.S. also has little choice but to enlist the ISI’s assistance in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table if Washington eventually hopes to stabilize Afghanistan and end the longest war in U.S. history. Furthermore, by keeping a line of communication with the ISI open, the U.S. retains some ability to keep an eye on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and can help prevent radioactive elements from falling into the wrong hands.

In the end, the ISI will always put Pakistan’s national security and interests first. And it appears that the U.S. is stuck playing this double game as long as it bears tangible results for U.S. interests and national security. 

Bennett Seftel is deputy director of analysis at The Cipher Brief. Follow him on Twitter @BennettSeftel.

Iran could make or break the US war in Afghanistan

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/iran-could-make-or-break-us-war-afghanistan-642279980


#Politics

Iran exerts considerable economic and political influence in Afghanistan and its cooperation is essential if the US wishes to end a 16-year war

Rupert Stone

Thursday 20 July 2017 14:56 UTC

The Trump administration is currently reviewing US policy in Afghanistan where America has been at war for the last 16 years and still retains over 8,000 troops.

Some in the White House reportedly favour a small military surge combined with aggressive action against Afghanistan’s neighbour, Pakistan, which allegedly harbours Taliban militants and supports the anti-government insurgency.

The US requires Iran’s assistance to improve Afghanistan’s security, reduce drug flows, and develop the landlocked country’s economy


But less often mentioned is the role of Iran, which also borders Afghanistan and exerts considerable influence there, too. Iran has strong cultural, religious and linguistic ties to the country.

Persian imperial dynasties once ruled large parts of it, including the major western city of Herat. About 15 percent of Afghans adhere to Shia Islam, the majority faith of Iran, while Dari, one of Afghanistan’s main languages, is a dialect of Persian.

Iran’s engagement in Afghanistan has deepened in recent decades. During the Afghan civil war of the early 1990s, the Islamic Republic backed various mujahideen groups. When the Taliban took power in 1996, Tehran supported its main opponents, the Northern Alliance (as it came to be known). The Northern Alliance also received help from India and Russia, which shared Iran’s hostility to the new government in Kabul.

Iran and the Taliban are natural adversaries, the former an overwhelmingly Shia state, the latter an intolerant Sunni group. In the 1990s, the Taliban massacred and persecuted members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority, the Hazara.

The city of Herat, near the Iranian border. Persian delicacies are served at restaurants here frequented by businessmen hatching deals with their Iranian neighbours (AFP)

And, in 1998, they stormed the Iranian consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i Sharif, murdering nine diplomats. In retaliation, Tehran massed hundreds of thousands of troops on its eastern border.

Switching sides

In this context, it is hardly surprising that Iran happily supported the US war against the Taliban in 2001. Tehran provided military and intelligence assistance, and expelled al-Qaeda and other Sunni militants from its territory at the US’s request. At the Bonn Conference in late 2001, convened to broker Afghanistan’s new government, Iran successfully persuaded the Northern Alliance to support US-backed Hamid Karzai as president.

Tehran started throwing its weight behind the Taliban to counter what it perceived as a hostile US military presence


However, US-Iranian cooperation died a death in 2002 when President George W Bush included Iran in the “axis of evil”. The subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003 and long-term occupation of Afghanistan further antagonised Iran, which was now sandwiched between American forces on either side. Tehran, therefore, started throwing its weight behind the Taliban to counter what it perceived as a hostile US military presence.

That support has apparently increased over time. The Taliban receives funding and weapons from Tehran. It also has an office in Iran, and may have training camps there too. When the former Taliban emir Mullah Mansour was killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2016, his passport showed multiple Iranian stamps.

The aftermath of the drone strike in Balochistan, Pakistan that killed Taliban emir Mullah Mansour (AFP)

Tehran reportedly strengthened its ties to the group after 2014, when the Islamic State emerged in Afghanistan. The Taliban opposes IS, and Iran sees the former as a bulwark against the latter. Russia, which shares Iran’s hostility to IS, has also started publicly backing the Taliban, and, according to the US military, may be supplying the group with arms.

Iran and Russia are likely betting on a stronger Taliban role in Afghan politics, too. The corrupt and divided Kabul government has been losing territoryand controls just over half of the country. Some kind of power-sharing agreement with the Taliban looks increasingly inevitable. Iran might be trying to maximise its leverage in Afghanistan’s political future.

Deeper than the Taliban

So, Tehran’s siding with the Taliban is largely pragmatic and not based on some new-found ideological affinity. Indeed, Iran has embraced Sunni groups before, such as Hamas, and once had strained ties with al-Qaeda. Its foreign policy is more flexible and opportunistic than notions of a rigid Shia-Sunni regional divide would suggest.  

Iran and Russia are likely betting on a stronger Taliban role in Afghan politics


But Iran’s influence in Afghanistan goes deeperthan its support for the Taliban. It has also created a Shia militia, the Fatemiyoun, recruited from its large Afghan refugee population. That militia, which reportedly comprises as many as 14,000 men, has been deployed to fight on the side of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. But, when the Syrian conflict ends, it is feared that Iran could redirect the Fatemiyoun to operate in Afghanistan.

Iran’s refugee policies impose great pressure on the Kabul government. There are up to one million Afghan refugees in Iran, according to the UN, and deportations have been increasing, with well over 100,000 sent back so far this year, and 600,000 planned by the end of 2017.

War-torn Afghanistan, with its weak economy, is struggling to absorb all these people, in addition to the huge numbers who have returned from Pakistan.

An aerial photo of the Helmand River in Afghanistan (AFP)

Then there is the issue of drugs. Afghanistan accounts for about 90 percent of the world’s heroin, much of it smuggled through Iran. Iran has a strong interest in restricting drug flows, given its domestic narcotics problem.

There are reportedly 2.7 million drug addicts in Iran, most of them heroin users. The Taliban receives much of its funding from the drugs trade, and the US and Afghan government will struggle to curtail it without Iran’s help.

Water is another important factor. Kabul and Tehran have a water-sharing agreement granting access to the Helmand River, which flows into eastern Iran. But tensions have flared up between the two countries recently, because Afghanistan is building dams which – Iranian President Rouhani claims – restrict water supplies unfairly. Iran has sponsored repeated Taliban attacks against these dam projects, according to Afghan officials.

The Islamic Republic has also used soft power to consolidate its influence in Herat, building schools, clinics and transport infrastructure, and it funded one of the country’s largest madrassahs, in Kabul. Moreover, Tehran has ties to Afghanistan’s sizeable Hazara Shia minority and its political representatives, along with local religious leaders such as Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Asef Mohseni.

Moreover, Iran has strong economic interests in Afghanistan. In 2016, it surpassed Pakistan as Afghanistan’s largest trading partner, providing oil, electricity, food and medicine. Afghanistan, by contrast, exports very little, and the trade deficit gives Iran considerable leverage: in 2010-2011, for example, Tehran restricted fuel imports in an apparent attempt to pressure the US.

Counter-productive US rhetoric

Iran’s role may expand further. In 2016, it signed a treaty with India to facilitate trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia through the southern Iranian port of Chabahar.

This project would allow Afghanistan to bypass Pakistan, which periodically closes its border and has fraught relations with the government in Kabul. But it has been delayed by the prospect of renewed US sanctions against Iran, which have deterred companies from getting involved.

Read more ►

Will Trump agree to the Pentagon's permanent war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria?


Indeed, the Trump administration has adopted an extremely harsh posture towards the Islamic Republic, with officials publicly advocating regime change. This is counter-productive, because the US requires Iran’s assistance to improve Afghanistan’s security, reduce drug flows, and develop the landlocked country’s economy.

Washington and Tehran have collaborated before to address common interests, and should do so again.

Iran could also help negotiate a peaceful end to the war. As Professor Barnett Rubin, director of the Afghanistan Regional Project at New York University, and other experts have written, there is no military solution to the conflict, and a broad diplomatic settlement involving the various regional players is now essential. Given Iran’s influence in Afghanistan and its ties to the Taliban, it must have a seat at the table.

But, unless Trump adopts a more conciliatory attitude, this is unlikely to happen, and the chaos in Afghanistan will only get worse.

Rupert Stone is a Berlin-based independent journalist working on national security and foreign affairs. He tweets @RupertStone83.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Middle East Eye. 

Photo: The US Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, return to Fort Knox, Kentucky after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan (AFP

BOOK: "Pakistan Army" Institution that Matters

Shoot first : New weapons from US

US NAVY / CHRIS OXLEY

British Defense Company to Develop DARPA’s Underwater Drones

Indeed, competition may require it. Unmanned aerial vehicles and underwater vessels, not to mention advances in cyber- and electronic warfare, are changing the architecture of the battlespace. Humans will need some help keeping up.

Still, it’s chilling to think about artificial intelligence technologies having the capacity to read our minds. It’s not easy to foresee what might happen if robots used this ability against their human creators.

DoD policy stipulates that in that case of UAVs, for instance, the machine cannot be responsible for killing humans; a remote human controller must press the button to fire Hellfire missiles from MQ-9 Reaper drones.The new technology may be poised to challenge that policy.

The Pentagon’s goal for research and development into Artificial Intelligence is focused on enhancing human interaction with AI, officials said at a conference hosted by Defense One on Wednesday. DARPA’s technology reportedly can detect the inclinatio

July 20, 2017

61% Population in Balochistan Facing Food Insecurity.

http://thebalochistanpoint.com/parliamentarians-in-balochistan-vow-to-eliminate-hidden-hunger-and-nutrition-challenges/



QUETTA: Mishal Pakistan, Australian High Commission and World Food Program briefed the parliamentarians in the Balochistan assembly on the alarming situation in the province. The key focus is to capacitate policy makers for a more harmonized mechanism to ensure service delivery to the citizens. The initiative aims to facilitate the knowledge flow among key stakeholders to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger and Nutrition Challenges”.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms.RahilaHameed Khan Durrani, Speaker Balochistan Assembly said, we thank Mishal Pakistan for collaborating with the Parliamentarians to develop smart policy making to “Eliminate Hidden Hunger” from Balochistan. She further added “We need to engage institutions, academia and bureaucrats to make it part of the legislation for sustainable development. She said, media can play a crucial role in raising the awareness among the communities and various stakeholders relevant to this important issue for Balochistan.

Mishal Pakistan, the Country Partner Institute of the Global Competitiveness and Benchmarking Network of the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the Standing Committee on Health held a special session to capacitate the Parliamentarians for smart policy making on eliminating hidden hunger and nutrition awareness. The session was held at the Provincial Assembly and attended by the Standing Committee members on health, members of academician and senior journalists.



Dr. Aftab Bhatti, Senior Nutrition Officer with the World Food Program in Balochistan briefed the parliamentarians that 61% population in Balochistan is food insecure, whereas; out of 20 food insecure districts in the country 10 are in Balochistan. The situation in Balochistan is specially critical as 40% children are underweight, additionally 52% are stunted and 16% are wasted. In terms of other demographics 49% women are anemic along with 57% children are anemic.

Parliamentarians are being briefed on smart policy making

Amna Sabahat, Program Manager Eliminating Hidden Hunger, while briefing the members of Balochistan parliamentarians said, “We have launched the Smart Policy Making initiative to ensure policy making through data and real time feedback through media. This would not only help the parliamentarians to improve service delivery to the citizens but would also contribute in improving Pakistan’s competitiveness on global footing, while creating accountability through media.”

She further said that “the adult literacy rate in Baluchistan is 43.6% whereas the young literacy rate lies at 55.9%.The awareness of nutrient deficiency level of Iron and Iodine in Pakistan remains highest especially in the urban community with up-to 42.0% and 61.6% respectively. Women and children remain the ultimate victims of these deficiencies resulting in high mortality rates”.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian High Commission (Australian Aid) has reached out to Mishal to partner and launch a nationwide program to create knowledge resources on Nutrition challenges in Pakistan. The program will address the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Goal No. 2 ‘Zero Hunger’”. The initiative by Mishal has launched the program to improve the narrative building on Nutrition by engaging various stakeholders including press clubs, journalism associations, policy making institutes and academia across Pakistan.

This collaboration has come into two different phases i.e. Initially in the shape of support for AGAHI Awards, where the Australian Aid is supporting the Journalism Awards in the categories of Eliminating Hidden Hunger, Agriculture and the Food, Water and Energy Security Nexus.”

The second phase of the collaboration between the Australian Aid and Mishal is to build the capacity of journalists and field reporters to create a better understanding on nutrition related challenges, while at the same time it will capacitate the parliamentarians and policy makers to debate suggest and approve Nutrition focused policies for a productive workforce of the future. The initiative is working across Pakistan with focal areas in provincial and federal capitals in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, AJK and the Federal Capital, Islamabad.

Through this initiative “Eliminating Hidden Hunger”, Mishal will build the capacity of more than 120 journalists and editors, while also engaging more than 60 parliamentarians and members of the federal and provincial standing committees on Food Security, Health and Agriculture etc. The initiative is supported by various development agencies and private sector organizations. The initiative is creating a master class of key opinion leaders in the country on nutrition and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) goal 2.

An estimated 2 billion people — over 30 percent of the world’s population suffer from deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. “Hidden hunger” is how health experts often refer to micronutrient deficiencies because most people affected do not show the visible physical symptoms and hence may not be aware of their condition. Hidden Hunger’s effects can be devastating, leading to mental impairment, poor health, low productivity, and even death. Its adverse effects on child health and survival are particularly acute, especially within the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception to the age of two, resulting in serious physical and cognitive consequences.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children and the more vulnerable – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Zero Hunger is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Australia is a lead donor in improving nutrition outcomes in Pakistan. As founding donor, Australia has committed AUD 39 million to the World Bank’s Multi Donor Trust Fund for Nutrition which supports the Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governments to scale-up and sustain an effective response to malnutrition. On a policy level Australian Government supports the National and Provincial Fortification Alliances for improved legislation, coordination and advocacy for fortifying foods with essential vitamins and minerals to reduce high prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies in the population. Australia is also supporting robust evidence generation on malnutrition through its innovative grants scheme, implemented through the Scaling Up Nutrition Academia and Research Network of Pakistan.

Staff Reporter

Published in The Balochistan Point on July 20, 2017

China in Middle East

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201707201055729342-china-presence-middle-east/

"The US has reduced its economic influence in the region, but continues to keep a military presence. China has a lot of money and needs new destinations for investments. This gives Beijing a serious advantage. As a result, Middle Eastern countries will have to turn their foreign policy from the US towards China," Tarasov pointed out.

Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind

Congratulations to Shri Ram Nath Kovind ji for the emphatic victory in the 2017 Presidential elections. His victory is truly historic.

Profile: Pari Ibrahim, How this young Yazidi is bringing hope to IS victims

SYRIA PULSE

Pari Ibrahim (C), the 27-year-old founder of the Free Yazidi Foundation, stands surrounded by Yezidi children in a refugee camp in Iraq. (photo by Free Yezidi Foundation)

How this young Yazidi is bringing hope to IS victims

Author: Brenda Stoter 
Posted July 6, 2016

AMSTERDAM — Pari Ibrahim, 27, was a regular law student in the Netherlands who had a job in a library until she received a phone call at 5 a.m. in August 2014 that would change her life forever. A family member from northern Iraq called to inform her that the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) had invaded Sinjar and had killed the men and kidnapped the women and children. “We are being massacred, we are heading for the mountains,” the family member said.

Ibrahim, who belongs to the Yazidi community, had fled Iraq with her parents in the 1990s and now lives in the Netherlands. After receiving the phone call, she frantically started searching the internet for information, but was not able to find news. Slowly it became clear what had happened in Sinjar. Thousands of Yazidi men had been killed or disappeared and 6,000 women and children had been enslaved by IS, including 19 females and 21 males who are Ibrahim’s relatives.

The women and girls, some as young as 9, were traded and sold as sex slaves, the boys were forcibly converted to Islam and were brainwashed to serve as fighters. The men were massacred and dumped in dozens of mass graves. To separate the boys from the men, IS militants looked at their armpits — if they had hair, they were killed, Ibrahim explained to Al-Monitor.

From that moment onward, Ibrahim decided to fully dedicate herself to the plight of the Yazidis.

“When they suffer, I suffer,” said Ibrahim, who immediately quit her job. “My parents gave me 300 euros [$332] to start an organization, and I managed to collect 1,500 euros [$1,664] as well. A friend donated 8,000 euros [$8,875] to help me tell the world what had happened.”

That was the moment the Free Yezidi Foundation was born. She added, “At some point, Gucci found out about our initiative and donated $120,000. This came as a gift from heaven as it allowed us to start various projects, such as opening women and children's centers.”

The Free Yezidi Foundation is one of the two leading foundations (the other is called Yazda) founded by the Yazidi diaspora. In the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, the group opened centers for Yazidi women and children and flew in a trauma specialist to assess future provision of mental health care. The organization also lobbies with governments to raise awareness for the plight of the Yazidis and to lobby for an intervention to save the more than 3,200 women still enslavedby IS. Ibrahim travels the world to tell people what happened to the Yazidis. She spoke at the UN Security Council and the House of Lords and has been interviewed by many media outlets, including the BBC.

“Recently, we heard that 19 girls were locked in cages and burned alive for refusing to have sex with IS fighters. We heard this from some locals who phoned their relatives in northern Iraq, although still we do not have the details confirmed,” Ibrahim said.

She added, “It was a well-planned and well-coordinated attack against the Yazidi people, not against the Kurds. People do not understand that Yazidis are not Kurds, and that Yazidis were murdered and enslaved for simply being Yazidi.”

Shortly after the massacre and enslavement, IS released an issue of its online magazine Dabiq in which it explained the enslavement of the Yazidis, whom they call “devil worshippers.” Enslavement is the appropriate treatment of “pagan” women, according to Sharia, IS argued.

In a chilling passage, it said, “Enslaving the families of the kuffar [unbelievers] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Sharia that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Quran and the narrations of the Prophet, and thereby apostatizing from Islam.”

Together with Yazda, the Free Yezidi Foundation started a mission to ensure justice is served on behalf of the Yazidi community. In September 2015, the organizations delivered a report to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on the involvement of foreign fighters in war crimes and crimes against humanity, such as genocide, sexual slavery and other crimes. Their goal is to prosecute IS, in particular foreign fighters.

Around 6,000 jihadis from Europe have joined IS in Iraq and Syria. A substantial number of them have returned, of whom many have not been prosecuted and are still freely walking the streets. Prosecutors in Europe often face difficulties finding legal evidence that fighters have been involved in war crimes and thus found it difficult to bring cases against them.

According to Ibrahim, there is evidence that foreign fighters have been involved in the crimes of genocide and sexual slavery, as many victims have testified. The Free Yezidi Foundation would like to link testimonies of Yazidi survivors to individual cases of foreign fighters to make prosecution possible. Also, the organizations are working on decoding the IS hierarchy as fighters from the West occupy lower, middle and higher ranks within the terrorist organization.

Ibrahim gave an example: “We were able to prove the involvement of three foreign fighters in war crimes, but all three were killed. However, we know that many more have been involved, such as German and French jihadis. And it is a fact that many foreign fighters have returned to the West.”

Recently, she was informed that some countries in the West are trying to start a case against their foreign fighters as well. “I can’t give you the details right now. We will hear more about this in the future,” she said. One of the reasons why it is also important to have suspects prosecuted by the ICC instead of national courts is because the Yazidis have little faith in the Iraqi justice system, which, according to Ibrahim, is chronically corrupt. Also, she hasn’t heard anything from the Iraqi government yet when it comes to prosecuting foreign IS fighters.

“You can buy your way out of jail in Iraq if you know the right people,” she added. “Yazidis do not trust anyone anymore.” Seeking justice for the Yazidis through the ICC is going to be a long and complicated process, which will probably take years. So far, the ICC has not even opened a preliminary investigation, which is needed to open the case. However, the Yazidi community has hope that this will happen.

“Even if we manage to convict one person, it will be worth the effort. We want recognition and justice,” Ibrahim said.

She added that only two females from her family managed to escape the terror group. The rest of her relatives are still missing.

“The women have been sold and traded as sex slaves. We don’t know what happened to the men. Maybe they have been killed and dumped in mass graves, or maybe IS took them,” she said.

BRENDA STOTER

Contributor,  Syria Pulse

Brenda Stoter is a Dutch journalist who writes about the Middle East, with special attention to Syrian women and Western jihad brides. Her articles have been published by Al Jazeera as well as featured in Dutch and Belgium national newspapers and magazines, including Algemeen Dagblad, De Tijd, Het Parool and De Groene Amsterdammer. On Twitter: @BrendaStoter

US changes media note to 'Jammu & Kashmir'

http://m.economictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/us-changes-media-note-to-jammu-kashmir/articleshow/59673136.cms



By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, ET Bureau | Updated: Jul 20, 2017, 12.25 AM IST

The USA has replaced the term India-administered Kashmir with Jammu and Kashmir in its order designating Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin as a global terrorist.

NEW DELHI: In what would vindicate India’s stand, the USA has replaced the term India-administered Kashmir with Jammu and Kashmir in its order designating Hizbul chiefSyed Salahuddin as a global terroristannounced during PM Narendra Modi’s trip to Washington DC.

This was informed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday by MoS external affairs VK Singh in reply to a question on the subject.

“On June 26, during the visit of the Prime Minister to the US, the Department of State designated Syed Salahuddin, leader of the militant group Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The media note issued by the State Department in this regard on that date had interalia stated “Under Salahuddin’’s tenure as senior HM leader, HM has claimed responsibility for several attacks, including the April 2014 explosives attack in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, which injured 17 people,” the minister said.

He further pointed out, taking cognizance of this, the Ministry’s Spokesperson had issued a statement on June 29, 2017 reiterating the well-known position of India that the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India. The matter was also taken up with the US, following which Media Note has been amended by the US State Department in which the reference to ‘’India-Administered Jammu and Kashmir’’ has been replaced by ‘the state of Jammu and Kashmir

US @StateDept changes 'Indian Administered Kashmir' to 'state of Jammu & Kashmir',

#BREAKING: #US @StateDept changes 'Indian Administered Kashmir' to 'state of Jammu & Kashmir', recognizes J&K as in… https://t.co/6pE0dQ3VQt

Swamy Vs Sibal : Fake Hindus Vs Genuine Hindus

Why the U.S. Needs to Understand Chinese Philosophy

China's growing global importance makes it imperative for the U.S. to understand the country's thought processes.

By The Conversation, ContributorJuly 20, 2017, at 10:12 a.m.


Statue of Confucius in Songyang Academy, one of the four great academies in ancient China. (Zhang Peng/LightRocket/Getty Images)

By Bryan W. Van Norden

The need for the U.S. to understand China is obvious. The Chinese economy is on track to become the largest in the world by 2030, Chinese leadership may be the key to resolving the nuclear crisis with North Koreaand China has military and economic ambitions in the South China Sea and India.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has shown (repeatedly) that it's not even clear on the difference between the People's Republic of China (the authoritarian state that occupies the mainland and that recently blacklisted Winnie the Pooh) and the Republic of China (the democratic state that occupies the island of Taiwan and that numerous U.S. presidents have defended against mainland Chinese shows of force).

Part of what U.S. diplomats and informed citizens need to know is the basic historical background to contemporary China. However, as a scholar of Chinese philosophy, I believe it's at least as important to understand how China thinks.

[READ: How Donald Trump Can Avoid a Trade War With China]

Unfortunately, very few universities in the United States teach traditional Chinese philosophies such as Confucianism or Daoism. Why not? And why should we care?

Why study Chinese philosophy?

There are at least three reasons that the lack of Chinese philosophy instruction in U.S. universities is problematic.

First, China is an increasingly important world power, both economically and geopolitically – and traditional philosophy is of continuing relevance in China. President Xi Jinping has repeatedly praised Confucius, the influential Chinese philosopher who lived around 500 B.C.

Like the Buddha, Jesus and Socrates, Confucius has been variously interpreted – sometimes idolized and other times demonized. At the beginning of the 20th century, some Chinese modernizers claimed that Confucianism was authoritarian and dogmatic at its core. Other thinkers have suggested that Confucianism provides a meritocratic alternative that is arguably superior to Western liberal democracy.

Thinking about these issues is important in understanding China's present and future: How will the next generation of Chinese diplomats, party officials and presidents (not to mention ordinary voters) learn about Confucius and his role in China as a political thinker?

Second, Chinese philosophy has much to offer simply as philosophy. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia expressed a common misconception about Chinese philosophy, dismissing it as the "mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie." In reality, Chinese philosophy is rich in persuasive argumentation and careful analysis.

[RELATED: U.S. Tops China in Economic Perceptions]

For example, Georgetown professor Erin Clinehas shown how Confucian ethics can provide a deeper understanding of ethical issues regarding the family and can even inform policy recommendations. Confucians emphasize both the role of parents in nurturing children and the responsibility of government to create environments in which families can flourish. Cline demonstrates that practical initiatives like the Nurse-Family Partnership help to realize both goals.

The third reason that it's important to add Chinese philosophy to the curriculum has to do with the need for cultural diversity. As two philosophers recently pointed out in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:

…academic philosophy in the United States has a diversity problem. …Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving philosophy Ph.D.'s in this country, 86 percent are non-Hispanic white.

Both my own experience and that of many of my colleagues suggest that part of the reason for this is that students of color are confronted with a curriculum that appears to be a temple to the achievements of white men. We need to expand the philosophical curriculum to include not only Chinese philosophy, but also the other less commonly taught philosophies, including Africana, feminist, indigenous American, Islamic, Latin American and South Asian philosophies.

Just how bad is the situation?

Most philosophy departments seem unwilling to admit there's philosophy outside of the European tradition that's worth studying.

Among the top 50 philosophy departments in the U.S. that grant a Ph.D., only six (by my reckoning) have a member of their regular faculty who teaches Chinese philosophy: CUNY Graduate CenterDuke UniversityUniversity of California at BerkeleyUniversity of California at RiversideUniversity of Connecticut and University of Michigan.

[RELATED: Why African Students Are Choosing China]

In contrast, every one of the top 50 schools has at least one regular member of the philosophy department who can lecture competently on Parmenides, a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher. His only surviving work is a poem filled with cryptic utterances like: "for not to be said and not to be thought / is it that it is not." Is this really more profound than the sum total of Chinese philosophy?

I was recently part of a panel at a major academic conference that was specifically advertised as an opportunity for nonspecialists to learn about Chinese philosophy. While other sessions at the conference had packed rooms, we lectured to an audience of fewer than a dozen people.

In contrast, at Chinese universities, both Western and traditional Chinese philosophy are routinely taught. China is also heavily investing in higher education, while the Trump administration hopes to slash funding for education. I expect that China understands the U.S. better than we understand it.

What does the future hold?

At the beginning of this article, I cited some reasons that China is increasingly important on the world stage. Here's one more: China is currently starting upon one of the most ambitious building projects in all of human history, the One Belt, One Road initiative. A modern version of the ancient Silk Road, it will expand and solidify Chinese economic and political power across all of Eurasia.

Can the U.S. really afford not to understand this country? As Confucius said,

"Do not worry that others fail to understand you; worry that you fail to understand others."

This draws on material previously published in this article from May 18, 2016.

This article was written by Bryan W. Van Norden, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple professor at Yale-NUS College, for The Conversation on July 19. It is republished with permission.