Year in Review: World News

Posted by on Dec 13, 2017 in Year in Review

The U.S. and World Conflicts

The deadly civil war in Syria continued to dominate the news throughout the early part of the year. In April, the United States conducted air strikes against the Syrian government, but with Russian support, the rebellion was largely destroyed.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the United States and North Korea continued to deteriorate. North Korea faced worldwide criticism for the buildup of its nuclear weapons program, even going so far as to fire missiles over Japan. In September, Trump increased tensions by delivering a fiery speech against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the United Nations, leading many Americans to fear that Trump was bringing the country closer to war.

In response, a United Nations treaty banned nuclear weapons worldwide. And this year’s Nobel peace prize went to a Swiss organization called the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the group which was instrumental in getting the UN weapons ban passed.

Shifting Leadership

The departure of Great Britain from the European Union, nicknamed “Brexit,” was officially underway when Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50. Meanwhile, Catalonia, a region with its own distinct language and culture, held a successful referendum vote to declare independence from Spain, despite violent clashes between voters and Spanish police on election day. The Spanish government went on to declare the election unconstitutional and dissolve the new government’s parliament.  Shortly after this, the world’s oldest leader, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, resigned in the wake of a military coup and the threat of impeachment by his Parliament.

The leadership of several other nations changed hands as well. In March, South Korea’s first female president was impeached. Fidel Castro, the long-standing ruler of Cuba, died at age 90. And 83-year-old Emperor Akihito became the first Japanese emperor to retire in 200 years.

The Environment

In January, three government agencies (two British, one American), declared 2016 to be the hottest year on record. Despite this, on June 1, President Trump again drew worldwide criticism when he withdrew the United States from the historic Paris Climate Accord. Huge sections of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef were declared dead in what scientists called an ecological catastrophe. Closer to home, climate change led to powerful superstorms such as Hurricane Irma, which devastated the eastern Caribbean.

The War on Terror

The U.S. continued its War on Terror when it dropped the “mother of all bombs”–the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat–on a suspected ISIS base in Afghanistan. Iraqi forces, assisted by the Americans, fought successfully to reclaim the city of Mosul from ISIS.

Despite this, 2017 still saw its share of deadly terrorist attacks. In London, a terrorist drove an SUV into a crowd of people on the Westminster Bridge. A similar tragedy happened in Spain in August, when a group of terrorists conducted coordinated vehicular attacks in Barcelona and two other nearby cities.

Humanitarian Issues

Over the summer, Yemen–the poorest country in the Arab world–suffered from a devastating cholera outbreak. By the time Saudi Arabia enforced a blockade on Yemen on November, 17 million people were already hungry and another million had been affected by the outbreak, causing a humanitarian crisis.

Meanwhile, the Rohingya people of Western Myanmar became victims of genocide by the Burmese government, causing at least half a million refugees to flee across the border into Bangladesh.

On a more uplifting note, Saudi Arabia finally lifted its ban on female drivers.

What Do You Think? Based on this article and what you’ve seen in the news, what worldwide issue concerns you the most right now? Which one gives you the most hope? Explain your answers.