Key events around the world in 2017
PARIS – From the inauguration of US President Donald Trump to the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar, here are 12 events that marked 2017.
A year of Trump
On January 20 Republican billionaire Donald Trump, 70, is inaugurated as US president, vowing: “America first.” Suspicions of collusion between his election campaign and Russia dog the start of his term. Trump progressively unpicks the achievements of his Democrat predecessor, Barack Obama. He pulls out of international agreements on climate, free trade, immigration and UNESCO. On December 6, in another break with the previous administration, Trump creates shockwaves when he recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move largely rejected in a UN vote.
On December 20 he seals his first major reform, signing long-awaited tax cuts into law.
Brexit under way
On March 29 London launches the process to quit the European Union, as voted in a referendum nine months earlier. In a snap general election on June 8 Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives suffer a major setback and lose their majority. Brussels and London agree on divorce terms on December 8.
France: political earthquake
Pro-EU centrist Emmanuel Macron, 39, wins a resounding victory over far-right rival Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential election on May 7. His new En Marche (One the Move) movement drives the two biggest parties – the Socialists and Republicans – from the Elysee Palace for the first time.
Middle East: boiling point
Saudi Arabia and its allies sever diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it supporting “terrorists” and of being too close to Iran. Then on November 4 Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announces from the Saudi capital that he is resigning, citing Iran’s “grip” on his country. He later backtracks. Saudi Arabia also accuses rebels in Yemen of receiving support from Iran, which denies the accusation. The UN describes Yemen’s humanitarian situation as the worst in the world in 2017.
Venezuela: economic disaster
On July 30 Venezuela’s Constituent Assembly – whose legitimacy is disputed by the opposition and abroad – is elected after four months of deadly protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. With wide-ranging powers, it dismisses in early August Attorney General Luisa Ortega, one of Maduro’s top critics. It then takes over the opposition-dominated Congress. Crippled by plummeting oil prices, the country is considered to be in “selective default” by ratings agencies.
North Korea: escalation
The reclusive regime conducts its sixth and largest nuclear test on September 3. On November 29 leader Kim Jong-Un says a “state nuclear force” has been completed with the test of a long-range missile able to deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the United States. Washington threatens to “utterly destroy” the regime “if war comes”. On December 22 the UN Security Council imposes new sanctions against North Korea that restrict vital oil supplies.
Myanmar’s Rohingyas: ‘genocide’
On August 25 the military in Buddhist-majority Myanmar launches a crackdown on Rohingyas after militants from the stateless Muslim minority ambush security forces. Nearly 655,000 Rohingyas find refuge in Bangladesh. The United States denounces “ethnic cleansing” while the UN speaks of “elements of genocide”.
Catalonia: autonomy suspended
Spain’s wealthy northeastern Catalonia region holds a referendum for independence on October 1 that is deemed illegal by the central government. Madrid moves to assert control but Catalan lawmakers vote on October 27 to declare independence. Madrid dismisses Catalonia’s government and suspends its autonomy, also calling regional elections. Deposed regional president Carles Puigdemont, charged with sedition and rebellion, takes refuge in Belgium.
On December 21 three pro-independence parties defeat the central government in the elections. However, the centrist, anti-independence Ciudadanos party gets the best individual result.
The Weinstein scandal
On October 5 the New York Times publishes a bombshell investigative report accusing Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, 65, of sexual harassment over decades. Similar allegations have since been levelled at a long list of personalities in film, television, journalism and politics around the world.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe falls
Zimbabwe’s veteran President Robert Mugabe, 93, resigns on November 21 following 37 years of rule and after being abandoned by the military and his own party.
IS defeated, not wiped out
Iraq on December 9 declares victory in its war to expel the Islamic State group but experts warn that militants remain a threat. They have also lost most of their territory in Syria. Numerous deadly attacks around the world over the year, including in Afghanistan, Britain, Egypt and Somalia, are claimed by or blamed on the group or others linked to Al-Qaeda.
Climate: record disasters
The year in which Trump decides, on June 1, to leave the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord is marked by a series of natural disasters, including record-breaking hurricanes, earthquakes and devastating fires that affect several countries. It is set to be one of the three warmest years ever recorded.
10 big events in 2018
n Winter Games
– February 9, South Korea: Start of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang against the backdrop of tensions with North Korea over its nuclear missile programme. The Games close on February 25.
n Fourth term for Putin?
– March 18, Russia: Presidential election at which Vladimir Putin will seek a fourth term.
n The end of the Castro era
– April, Cuba: Raul Castro steps aside as president shortly after April 19 elections, ending nearly six decades of Castro leadership on the island.
n Voting in Iraq
– May 15, Iraq: Legislative and provincial elections, the first since the defeat of the Islamic State in the country.
n Royal wedding
– May 19, Britain: Prince Harry marries US actress Meghan Markle at Windsor Castle.
n Football finals
– July 15, Russia: The final of football’s 2018 World Cup, which opens on June 14 in Moscow.
n Test for Trump
– November 6, United States: Midterm elections, the first serious electoral test for President Donald Trump.
n Venezuela votes in crisis
– December, Venezuela: Presidential elections with the country mired in political and economic crisis.
n Climate, the moment of truth
– December 3, Poland: Start of the COP24 environmental summit in Katowice, with key decisions expected on the implementation of the Paris climate accords.
n Delayed voting in DR Congo
– December 23, Democratic Republic of Congo: Presidential election two years after the expiry of the term of outgoing President Joseph Kabila.