International Polity - Current Affairs for February, 2017

International Polity Current Affairs for February, 2017

Month wise coverage of International Polity Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.

Preparing International Polity Current Affairs February, 2017

1. Read the most important International Polity Current affairs and facts here. 2. Take practice test of our International Polity MCQ and Objective type questions. 3. Clear any quiz, GK, job interview or competitive exam on current affairs.
  • Month & Year   
▼ Somalia's new PM is Hassan Ali Khaire   [02-27-17]

Somalia's new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has chosen newcomer Hassan Ali Khaire, the latest entrant in politics from oil company business, as the country's new PM.

The 23rd Feb 2017 appointment was announced before Mohamed known as Farmajo moved to Saudi Arabia for his first foreign trip since election. Somali citizens saw Mohamed take office after selecting him from 21 possible candidates.

A dual US Somali citizen known as a technocrat, he aims to tackle hunger, violence and corruption in Somalia mired in civil war for over 40 years.

Khaire is a dual Norwegian citizen who has worked as a Norway primary school teacher and for the Norwegian Refugee Council before joining British energy explorer Soma Oil and Gas.

The PM resigned from his job as ED for Africa to take up the post of prime minister, according to Soma Oil.

All shares in the firm have been given up.

The selection was seen as a balance of clan interests in the nation located in the Horn of Africa. Khaire is a member of the Hawiye clan as is former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Mohamed belongs to the Darod clan.

New president has vowed to make security in the country a priority. Armed group Al Shabab has carried out attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere. Saudi King Salman aimed at discussing strengthening the relationship of the country in terms of security and aid for Somalia's drought.

The new Somali president has broken the long tradition of visiting Ethiopia known as the Mecca of Somali leaders.

The new president now favors alliances with Arab nations more than others. In another first for Somalia, the president announced his new selection for the post of PM via Twitter.

Nominee Hassan Ali Khaire is a 48-year old industry oil executive and former aid worker.

The nomination is subject to a confirmation vote by lawmakers.

Khaire was born in central Somalia and has received degrees from University of Oslo and Edinburgh Business School in Scotland.

He also worked as a regional director for the Norwegian Refugee Council and also as an ED for Soma Oil and Gas founded in 2013 for reviving oil exploration in Somalia.

The most pressing issue confronting the new government is the long running conflict in Somalia.

Somalia: Know More

  • Somalia, officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa.
  • It is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north.
  • Capital: Mogadishu
  • Dialing code: +252
  • Currency: Somali shilling
  • President: Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
  • Official languages: Somali, Arabic

▼ Azerbaijan president appoints wife as deputy   [02-23-17]

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyev as the First Vice President of the country.

The position was created after a constitutional referendum in September, 2016.

According to Azerbaijan’s constitution, the First Vice President takes over the country’s presidency if the president is unable to perform the duties.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife Mehriban as his deputy, further entrenching the power of the family in what one opposition leader denounced as a first step to establishment of an absolute monarchy.

Ilham Aliyev assumed the presidency of the oil and gas exporter in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar, whose rule stretched back into Soviet times.

Mehriban herself hails from one of the most wealthy and influential families in the country, the Pashayevs.

Ilham Aliyev's hold on power was tested in 2016 when low prices for Azerbaijan's main export, oil, hit the currency and pushed up prices for staple goods like flour. However, oil prices have recovered and the currency has stabilised.

Mehriban Aliyev, 52, is a member of parliament and a UNESCO goodwill ambassador. But her most prominent role until now has been as head of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, and her official title will be First Vice President, a post that was created last year following a referendum on constitutional changes.

The revised constitution does not specify what duties the first vice president has.

European institutions and rights bodies have accused the Azeri authorities of curbing free expression and preventing fair elections.

Azeri officials deny those accusations, saying Aliyev's rule has brought prosperity and stability to a country located in an area, the southern Caucasus, that has seen several conflicts since collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Azerbaijan: Know More

  • Capital: Baku
  • Code: +994
  • Currency: Azerbaijani manat
  • Official language: Azerbaijani
  • Continent: Asia, Europe

▼ US President Trump chooses new NSA adviser   [02-21-17]

US President Donald Trump on 20th Feb 2017 named Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser, the post left vacant after Michael Flynn's resignation.

Trump called him a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.

Acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, a retired three-star general will move from the post.

Robert Harward, a retired vice admiral and former Navy SEAL, reportedly turned down Trump's offer of the job last week over concerns that he would not be able to bring in his own team to staff the National Security Council.

National Security Agency: Know More

  • Headquarters: Maryland, United States
  • Founder: Harry S. Truman
  • Founded: 4 November 1952
  • Motto: "Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future."

▼ Pakistan senate passes Hindu Marriage Bill 2017   [02-20-17]

Pakistan’s Senate (upper house) has unanimously passed landmark The Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 to regulate marriages of minority Hindus in the country.

It is first personal law for Pakistani Hindus, applicable in Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

The bill is deals with marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage, sets minimum legal age of marriage at 18 years for both boys and girls in the minority Hindu community.

The bill will help Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage.

Pakistan: Know More

  • Capital: Islamabad
  • Currency: Pakistani rupee
  • President: Mamnoon Hussain
  • Population: 182.1 million (2013) World Bank
  • Prime minister: Nawaz Sharif

▼ Ireland's government wins confidence motion by 5 votes   [02-17-17]

The Government has won its motion of confidence in the Dáil by just five votes - 57 to 52, with 44 abstentions - after a series of terse exchanges between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin.

Fianna Fáil abstained in the vote.

Sinn Féin, Labour, Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit, Independents4Change, Social Democrats, Green Party and Independents Michael FitzMaurice, Mattie McGrath and Michael Collins voted against the Irish Government.

The Government’s confidence motion was in response to a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the Coalition.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny sharply attacked Sinn Féin as the Dáil debate on the motion kicked off.

Sinn Féin tabled the motion over the handling of sex crime allegations against Irish police whistleblower Maurice McCabe.

The party accused the government of covering up "who knew what and when."

Sgt McCabe and now retired John Wilson previously alleged there was corruption with the Republic of Ireland's driving licence penalty points system.

The Garda (Irish police) commissioner denied telling journalists that Sgt McCabe was facing sex crime allegations.

The claim against Nóirín O'Sullivan was made by Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin in the Dáil (Irish parliament).

▼ Kim Jong-Un's half brother assassinated   [02-15-17]

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has been assassinated in Malaysia.

The agency quoted a Seoul government source as saying Kim Jong-Nam was killed on 13th Feb 2017.

The 45-year-old was poisoned by two unidentified female agents using poisoned needles at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

Kim Jong-Nam was once considered heir apparent but fell out of favour with his father Kim Jong-Il following a botched attempt in 2001 to enter Japan on a forged passport and visit Disneyland.

He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in the Chinese territory of Macau. Kim Jong-Un took over as North Korean leader when his father died in December 2011.

Kim Jong-Nam, known as an advocate of reform in the North, once told a Japanese newspaper that he opposed his country's dynastic power transfers.

Kim's case would be the highest-profile death under the Kim Jong-Un regime since the execution of the leader's uncle Jang Song-Thaek in December 2013.

Kim Jong-Nam: Know More

  • Born: 10 May 1971, Pyongyang, North Korea
  • Died: 13 February 2017, Sepang District, Malaysia
  • Education: Kim Il-sung University

▼ NSA designate Michael Flynn resigns in 24 days!   [02-15-17]

Michael Flynn, a former military general who helped to shape President Donald Trump’s foreign policy views, resigned as the National Security Adviser (NSA) on 13th Feb 2017.

Mr. Flynn, in his resignation letter, admitted to giving incomplete information to the Vice-President on his phone calls with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. while he was the NSA-designate.

U.S. intelligence agencies wiretapped the incoming NSA’s conversations with the Ambassador, and the episodic media leaks of its content and follow-up actions were responsible for his resignation,

Flynn's resignation was on the grounds that he misled vice-president Mike Pence, who apparently took the NSA's word that he did not discuss the sanctions issue with the Russian ambassador to US during Trump administration's transition phase.

Pence supported Flynn on television shows based on his assurance, but it transpired that the embattled NSA, already at sea in the tumultuous early days of the administration, had erred.

Flynn will go down in history as the NSA with the shortest stint- just 24 days-in a job whose average tenure is two and half years.

Another retired general, Keith Kellogg, was designated the interim national security adviser, and he along with two other former military brass, Gen David Petraeus and former Vice Admiral Bob Harward are being considered for the post.

▼ Meet Tehmina Janjua - Pakistan's first woman foreign secretary   [02-14-17]

Career diplomat Tehmina Janjua was on 13th Feb 2017 appointed as Pakistan's first woman foreign secretary.

Foreign Office said that Janjua will replace outgoing foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

Tehmina Janjua will assume the post of Foreign Secretary in the first week of March 2017, Pakistan's foreign office said.

Earlier local media reports had named Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit as the front-runner for the coveted post.

She was presently serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

Janjua is a seasoned diplomat with a career spanning over 32 years.

She holds Master's degrees from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and Columbia University, New York.

She has rich experience of working in bilateral and multilateral domains both at Headquarters and Missions abroad, FO said.

She also served as Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during 2011.

Janjua served as Ambassador of Pakistan to Italy from December 2011 to October 2015.

At present she is serving as Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva since October 2015.

▼ North Korea targets ballistic missile at Japan sea   [02-13-17]

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea early on 12th February 2017.

This is the first such test since U.S. President Donald Trump was elected, and his administration indicated that Washington would have a calibrated response to avoid escalating tensions.

The test was likely to have been of an intermediate-range Musudan-class missile that landed in the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s military.

The launch marks the first test of Trump’s vow to get tough on an isolated North Korean regime that last year tested nuclear devices and ballistic missiles at an unprecedented rate in violation of United Nations resolutions.

The latest test comes a day after Trump held a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe called the launch “absolutely intolerable” and said North Korea must comply with UN Security Council resolutions.

China is North Korea’s main ally but has been frustrated by Pyongyang's repeated provocations,.

It also bristles at pressure from Washington and Seoul to curb the North and its young leader, Kim Jong Un.

China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump and his aides are likely to weigh a series of possible responses, including new U.S. sanctions to tighten financial control.

There may also be an increase in naval and air assets in and around the Korean peninsula and accelerated installation of new missile defence systems in South Korea, the administration official said.

Trump has pledged a more assertive approach to North Korea but given no clear sign of how his policy would differ from Obama’s so-called strategic patience.

This is part of a show of force in response to the new U.S. administration’s hard-line position against the North.

A South Korean military source said the missile reached an altitude of about 550 km.

While Seoul initially said the missile was probably a medium-range Rodong, it later said the launch was likely of a Musudan, which is designed to fly up to 3,000-4,000 km.

The North attempted eight Musudan launches last year.

Only one of those launches - of a missile that flew 400 km in June - was considered a success by officials and experts in South Korea and the United States.

Once fully developed, a North Korean ICBM could threaten the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km from North Korea.

▼ Frank-Walter Steinmeier is Germany's new president   [02-13-17]

Billed as Germany's "anti-Trump", centre-left former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected on 12th Feb as the new ceremonial head of state.

The 61-year-old regularly polls as Germany's most popular politician.

He will represent the EU's top economy abroad and act as a kind of moral arbiter for the nation.

His Social Democrats (SPD) hope the appointment will boost their fortunes.

Their candidate Martin Schulz, the former European parliament president, readies to challenge Chancellor Angela Merkel in September elections.

Steinmeier received 931 of 1,239 valid votes after Merkel's conservatives, lacking a strong candidate of their own, agreed to back him to replace incumbent Joachim Gauck, 77, a former pastor from ex-communist East Germany.

The vote was held in Berlin's glass-domed Reichstag building by a special Federal Assembly, made up of national lawmakers and electors sent from Germany's 16 states.

Though the trained lawyer is usually measured in his speech, in the thick of last year's US election campaign Steinmeier labelled Donald Trump a "hate preacher".

As Steinmeier has prepared for the new post, which he assumes on March 19, he has vowed to serve as a "counterweight to the trend of boundless simplification.”

He is calling this approach "the best antidote to the populists".

A policy wonk by nature, Steinmeier served as advisor and then chief of staff to Merkel's predecessor, the SPD's Gerhard Schroeder.

In 2009, Steinmeier ran against Merkel and lost badly, only to return years later to serve in her cabinet.

Steinmeier is well known in the world's capitals, but his appointment worries some in eastern Europe, who see him as too soft on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Having Steinmeier move into the presidential Bellevue Castle in Berlin has emboldened the SPD.

For Germany's SDP, Steinmeier's election is a prelude to something bigger to come: a victory in September's elections against Merkel, according to some analysts.

▼ Argentina curbs immigration, follows in footsteps of the US   [02-6-17]

In place with immigration restrictions put in place by the Trump administration, President Mauricio Macri has issued a decree curbing immigration to Argentina.

His government declaring that newcomers from poorer countries in Latin America bring crime.

The measures announced by Macri made it much easier to deport immigrants and restrict their entry, prompting comparisons to President Trump.

Argentina's president, the son of an immigrant, has echoed some of Trump's "America First" theme, making it clear that his "first concern" should be "caring for Argentines, caring for ourselves."

"We cannot continue to allow criminals to keep choosing Argentina as a place to commit offenses," Macri said.

His decree has also rekindled criticism of his ties to Trump, whom he calls a friend.

Argentina Government

  • Government: Federal presidential constitutional republic
  • President: Mauricio Macri
  • Vice President: Gabriela Michetti
  • Legislature: Congress
  • Upper house: Senate
  • Lower house: Chamber of Deputies

▼ US Court orders against visa ban for 7 Muslim countries   [02-6-17]

The Trump administration has been forced to back down from the presidential order selectively restricting entry into United States.

This is setting up a potential confrontation between the executive and the judiciary.

It is also pitting liberal, immigrant-welcoming states against a federal government accused of shutting doors.

A Federal District Judge in Washington state in the Pacific Northwest matched similar rulings in New York, California, and Massachusetts (all liberal, Democrat-leaning states) while temporarily blocking President Trump's executive order from being enforced nationwide.

The ruling immediately re-opened US doors to travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.

These were barred by the Trump executive order.

The government complied with the court ruling for now, communicating to airlines that they could board passengers with valid travel documents, even as the President himself railed against it.

The State Department too announced it was reversing the cancellations of visas for nearly 60,000 travellers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

These travellers had their visas "provisionally revoked" to comply with Trump's order blocking them from travelling to the United States.

The Washington court ruling came from Judge James Robart, a Bush administration appointee, after the state had challenged the executive order.

It was arguing it was separating families, damaging the States' economies, and undermining "states' sovereign interest in remaining a welcoming place for immigrants and refugees."

States which have won injunction against the Presidential order are all typically:

  • Better-educated,
  • Higher-income,
  • More open immigrants, and
  • Have a more diverse population.
Meanwhile, a legislation has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.

This among other things calls for more than doubling the minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $130,000, making it difficult for firms to use the programme to replace American employees with foreign workers, including from India.

The High-Skilled Integrity and Fairness Act of 2017 introduced by California Congressman Zoe Lofgren prioritises market-based allocation of visas to those companies willing to pay 200% of a wage calculated by survey.

This eliminates the category of lowest pay. It also raises the salary level at which H1B dependent employer are exempt from non-displacement and recruitment attestation requirements to greater than $130,000.

▼ British PM Theresa May receives UK Parliament’s approval to begin Brexit   [02-6-17]

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has received Parliament’s approval to begin the process of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). This comes after winning a crucial vote in the House of Commons.

British MPs voted in favour of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill after two days of debate. They voted by a majority of 384-498 votes in favour to 114 against.

The bill now faces further scrutiny in the Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.

Government of the United Kingdom: Know More

  • Government: Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Monarch: Elizabeth II
  • Prime Minister: Theresa May
  • Legislature: Parliament
  • Upper house: House of Lords
  • Lower house: House of Commons

▼ Right to Information Act enters into force in Sri Lanka   [02-6-17]

The Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force in Sri Lanka.

This is a piece of legislation aimed at restoring transparency and good governance in a country that has been plagued by corruption and misrule.

The government has gazetted the categories of public authorities that fall within the purview of the RTI.

The authorities are bound to respond to these requests as per the specified guidelines, within a maximum period of 28 days.

“From today the public can apply for information which they want,” Sankhitha Gunaratne, RTI Manager of Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) was quoted as saying.

TISL said it will be filing several public interest RTI requests with the relevant public authorities, seeking information like that pertaining to the assets and liabilities declarations of the President and the Prime Minister.

It will also put in a request for financial reports of political parties.

▼ British MPs vote in favor of Brexit   [02-3-17]

Members voted by 498 to 114 to support the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

This gives the government the parliamentary approval necessary to trigger Article 50, which gives the EU member-states a two-year period to withdraw.

The government was forced to bring in legislation before Parliament following a Supreme Court verdict last month, which held that the executive’s prerogative was not sufficient.

While MPs of different parties may attempt to bring amendments to the Bill at later stages, the government is likely to be able to keep to its Brexit timetable.

With Labour and the Conservative party backing legislation, it fell to rebels and other parties to oppose the Bill.

While many Conservatives have been critical of the government’s approach in the run-up to legislation, opposition within the party melted away.

Only Ken Clarke, a former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, to oppose the Bill at its second reading.

Former Chancellor George Osborne, warned of a constitutional crisis if the House did not pass legislation.

Labour’s position - which has been to support legislation, but push for reforms to ensure single market access and protections for workers - has drawn criticism from across parties.

The vote is, of course, not the end of the road.

Legislation will now have to pass to the committee stage where amendments to legislation will be considered and then voted on.

▼ Rex Tillerson sworn in as next US Secretary of State   [02-2-17]

The Republican-controlled Senate on Feb 1st confirmed Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state, a crucial member of President Donald Trump's national security team.

Tillerson was quickly sworn in during a ceremony in the Oval Office, where Trump showered him with praise.

Senators voted 56-43 to approve the former Exxon Mobil CEO after Democrats mounted a vocal yet unsuccessful campaign to derail the bid

Tillerson also will have to deal with any fallout stemming from Trump's executive order on immigration and travel that halts entry for 90 days to citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations.

Tillerson received an honorific - the Order of Friendship - from Putin's government in 2013.

Democrats pressed their case against Tillerson right up until the vote.

▼ Neil Gorsuch nominated SC judge in the US   [02-2-17]

US President Donald Trump has nominated conservative judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, sparking strong opposition from the Democrats.

Born and raised in Colorado, 49-year-old Gorsuch of the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter century.

Gorsuch attended the Columbia University and the Harvard Law School.

After graduating with honours, he received his doctorate from the Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar.

In 2006, then President George W. Bush nominated him for the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and he was confirmed by voice vote without objection.

The Supreme Court’s work is vital not just to a region of the country, but to the whole, vital to the protection of the people’s liberties under law and to the continuity of the constitution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said in Mr. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump had fulfilled his pledge to nominate a judge who has demonstrated loyalty to the Constitution and strong commitment to life.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said he had hoped that Trump would work in a bipartisan way to pick a mainstream nominee like Merrick Garland and bring the country together.

National Abortion Federation in a statement expressed it disappointment with Gorsuch's apppointment.

About United States SC: Membership
Chief Justice: John Roberts
Associate Justices

  • Anthony Kennedy
  • Clarence Thomas
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Stephen Breyer
  • Samuel Alito
  • Sonia Sotomayor
  • Elena Kagan
  • Neil Gorsuch (pending confirmation)
  • Retired Associate Justices
  • John Paul Stevens
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • David Souter

▼ Amazon, Expedia sue Trump administration over Muslim ban   [02-1-17]

On 31st Jan 2017 , two tech companies - Amazon and Expedia - filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Seattle against the Trump administration.

They were arguing that the order will hurt their businesses.

The filings represent an escalation of technology industry's efforts to push back on the order signed by Trump.

The lawsuit asked the court to declare key parts of the executive order unconstitutional.

Expedia argued that the executive order hurt its ability to recruit employees from overseas.

It also said it could undermine the core of the company's business as an internet travel company.

About thousand Expedia customers with passports from one of the seven countries, have made travel plans that involve flights to, from or through the US.

Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia's chief executive, was born in Iran and fled the country with his parents after the Iranian revolution in 1978.

Amazon said it was aware of 49 employees out of its US work force of 180,000 who are from one of the countries identified in the order, nearly all of whom hold citizenship in another country.

Seven job candidates, all of them originally from Iran but citizens of other countries, have received employment offers from Amazon.

The company is considering jobs for the candidates in other countries.

In an email to employees, CEO Jeff Bezos, said the firm had expressed its opposition to the order to administration officials and congressional leaders.

He said the firm was exploring "other legal options as well."

At Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, hundreds of employees crowded into a quad near the main cafeteria to protest the order.

Chronology of events
A divided U.S. Senate confirmed Republican Senator Jeff Sessions as the next attorney general of the US after strong push back from Democrats concerned about his record on civil rights
The Parliament of Somalia elected former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, as the country’s new president on 8 February 2017. Farmajo was chosen after two rounds of voting, after which he immediately took the oath.
The Trump administration is greatly expanding the number of people living in the U.S. illegally who are considered a priority for deportation, including people arrested for traffic violation.
The US and China have agreed on a constructive bilateral relationship to address the threat posed by North Korea due to its repeated ballistic missile tests despite a UN ban.
Spain and Portugal have been linked by a zip wire, meaning thrill seekers can cross from one country to another by flying through the air at speeds of up to 50mph.
Australia and Indonesia have full military ties between the two countries had been restored, after Indonesia’s military suspended cooperation in January because of “insulting” teaching information found in an Aussie military base.