A look back at the top developments of the year 2016 in the world.
Wave of terror attacks in the world
Terrorism remained a topical issue in 2016, a year marked by a record-large number of terror attacks committed or foiled in countries in the EU, the Middle East and Africa. The IS group or its affiliates have claimed responsibility for most of these attacks. As early as this spring, this terror group announced it would attack all states taking part in the international coalition involved in operations in Syria and Iraq. The threat was soon put into practice. In March, Brussels was the scene of three coordinated suicide attacks targeting the city airport and a metro station near the European Union headquarters. The attack, claimed by IS group, killed 32 and wounded 340 people, and was the most brutal in the history of that country. In late June, another suicide attack targeted the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, leaving behind 48 dead and more than 230 wounded. Gory attacks then hit France and Germany. On France’s national day, July 14, a truck rammed into the crowd that attended a fireworks show on a Nice boulevard. As many as 86 people died, including children, and over 400 were wounded. The latest terror attack in Europe came on December 19, when at least 12 people died and 48 others were taken to hospital after another truck attack, at the Christmas market in Berlin. Once again, IS claimed the attack.
Attempted coup in Turkey
On June 15, a failed coup was reported in Turkey, staged by a faction of the country’s military. The uprising was crushed by the President Recep Erdogan loyalists, but nearly 300 people died and more than 2,000 were wounded in the street clashes in Istanbul and Ankara. Erdogan used the coup as a pretext for a crackdown on the supporters of his political opponent, the US-exiled Muslim cleric Fehtullah Gulen, whom he accused of being behind the plot. Gulen denied involvement and in turn accused Erdogan of using the purge as a way to consolidate his authoritarian rule. Thousands of people, including military, police, magistrates, civil servants, and teaching staff, were arrested or fired, and many media outlets were shut down.
Britain’s “leave” vote
At the end of a campaign focusing on the rights of intra-EU immigrants, the Britons voted for their country to leave the Union, at a referendum held in June. Their decision questioned the very sustainability of the European project. The Conservative PM David Cameron stepped down in the wake of this vote, to be replaced by Theresa May. The result of the British referendum created an unprecedented situation in the European Union, which both the decision-making bodies in Brussels and each EU member state must learn to cope with. London announced it would start the procedures for exiting the European bloc in the spring of 2017. Negotiations might take around 2 years.
Presidential elections in the USA
In the USA, the Republican candidate Donald Trump won the presidential election, at the end of a campaign marred by disputes, scandals, controversy and insults. The victory of the eccentric billionaire came as a surprise to many, as his challenger, the Democrat Hillary Clinton, had been viewed as more likely to win the race up until the very last moment. According to analysts, the transition was just as controversial as the electoral campaign itself. Trump will be sworn in as president of the USA on January 20.
Notable losses in 2016
This year the world has said farewell to a long list of personalities and celebrities. Among them, boxing legend Muhammad Ali, largely viewed as the best fighter of all times, and the former skipper of the Dutch football team and three-time Golden Ball winner Johan Cruyff. This year also saw the death of Fidel Castro, the father of the Cuban revolution and the one who led Cuba for five decades. Famous for his temper as well as for his long speeches, he was instantly recognised across the world thanks to his olive uniform, beard and cigar. Admired by his followers as the one who gave Cuba back to its people, but harshly criticized by his opponents for his brutal suppression of any opposition, Fidel Castro became a worldwide symbol of the fight against “American imperialism.” The cinema industry also got poorer this year, when it lost the Italian actor Bud Spencer, the British Alan Rickman, best known for playing Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, Hollywood’s golden age icon Debbie Reynolds, famous for her part in the music comedy “Singing in the Rain” and her daughter Carrie Fisher, the Star Wars series’ Princess Leia. But perhaps the worst hit in 2016 were music fans, who were shocked and heartbroken to hear of the successive deaths of music giants like David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen and George Michael. And as the year was drawing to a close, another piece of bad news came: the death of 60 members of Russia’s renowned Red Army Choir, whose plane crashed into the Black Sea.
(Translated by A.M. Popescu)