Key events around the world in 2017

By AFP
Published: December 30, 2017
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US President Donald Trump's inauguration kicked off a momentous and tumultuous year
PHOTO: AFP

US President Donald Trump's inauguration kicked off a momentous and tumultuous year PHOTO: AFP

PARIS: From the inauguration of US President Donald Trump to the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar, here are 12 events that marked 2017.

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.

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.

Brexit & the EU

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. 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.

UN says Saudi-led coalition raids in Yemen kill 109 civilians

Middle East crisis

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.

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.

Venezuela

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

North Korea 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.

North Korea’s nuclear programme

Myanmar

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”.

Catalan referendum

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.

#MeToo

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.

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