Military Occupations the World Has Forgotten About

Published July 20th, 2017 - 08:16 GMT
A soldier in the UN-controlled buffer zone on the island of Cyprus. (AFP)
A soldier in the UN-controlled buffer zone on the island of Cyprus. (AFP)

Today marks the anniversary of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus which led to the eventual illegal military occupation of the north of the Island. Almost 50 years on, Turkey still maintains effective control over what it calls the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, despite the international community recognizing only the Republic of Cyprus government and considering the occupation illegal.

It is oftentimes forgotten that the Israeli occupation of Palestine is not the only case of its kind in the modern world. Despite receiving the majority of media attention in the West, the illegal and internationally condemned military occupation of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem by the State of Israel is just one case among many of under-reported and unknown cases. 

From Cyprus to Ukraine, Morocco to Armenia, here are some of the military occupations around the world that are, or have been widely forgotten about.

1. Turkey’s occupation of North Cyprus


#occupiedcyprus #turkishoccupation #lastdevidedcapital #cyprus

A post shared by Sevag Jaklian (@sevagj) on Nov 18, 2016 at 7:30am PST

On 18 July 1974, Turkish forces invaded the small island of Cyprus. By August, they controlled approximately 40% of its territory. The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, protected by the Turkish military, is only recognized by Turkey and considered an illegal occupation by the international community.


2. Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara


Thoughts about Western Sahara/SADR? #westernsahara#sahrawi#polisario#morocco#algeria#elaauin

A post shared by Azad Hazarajatآزاد هزاره جات (@hazaragi.communist) on Jul 4, 2017 at 8:01am PDT

The Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975 after colonial Spain relinquished its control over the territory. The Polisario Front proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, however operates in exile from a refugee camp the size of the city in neighboring Algeria. Much like the Israel-Palestine case, a wall was built by the Moroccan occupiers to protect the kingdom’s control over the land, and Moroccan settlers were encouraged to move into the Western Sahara.


3. Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia

In 2008, Russia helped the self-declared independent territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in Georgia expel the Georgian army. Currently, Russian military occupation of the two regions of internationally-recognized Georgian territory is considered illegal by many UN member states.


4. Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan


From BLOOMING IN THE BLACK GARDEN ©Mancini & Maraviglia Young soldiers during the first Triple anniversary celebrations after the war events of april,2016. Every may,9 in karabakh people celebrate the liberation of the city of Shushi during the first war against Azerbaijan, the formation of the Karabakhian Army and the victory in the second world war. BLOOMING IN THE BLACK GARDEN is the first chapter of a longer project, blooming Generation about unrecognized countries told through the eyes of young generations that i'm realizing with my friend and collegue @gianmarcomaraviglia #photojournalism #reportage #karabakh #identity #independence #mood #picoftheday #followme #caucasus #young #soldier #uniform #war #military #army #armenia #artsakh #people #portrait #teenagers #soldiers #celebration #ceremony #cloudy #documentary #project

A post shared by Karl Mancini (@karlitomancini) on Jul 13, 2017 at 9:15am PDT

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan is currently under military occupation by Armenia. While the ethnic majority of the area are Armenian, the Azerbaijani government does not recognize its independence nor Armenia’s control, and violence often breaks out between the two countries’ militaries. Much like the Israel-Palestine case, hundreds of thousands who fled their homes during the initial fighting have been unable to return.


5.  Russia’s occupation of Crimea

This military occupation is more in our minds given its initial extensive media coverage, however as time passes, it is slowly slipping out of fashion in political discourse. In March 2014, Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Very few nations in the international community recognized Russia’s action and effective rule as legitimate, and fighting in the region continues to this day.

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