The year 2023 in ten significant events around the world


On October 7, commandos from the Islamist movement Hamas infiltrated southern Israel from the Gaza Strip and carried out massacres in border towns and a music festival.

Around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, were killed on the Israeli side, according to an AFP count based on the latest official Israeli figures.

The Israeli police will announce in mid-November that they are investigating possible sexual violence, including gang rape or mutilation of corpses.

This attack against civilians, of a scale and violence unprecedented since the creation of Israel in 1948, arouses fear in the country and beyond. Some 250 hostages and bodies were taken to Gaza, including dozens of children and people in their 80s.

Determined to “annihilate” Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the EU and Israel, the Israeli army responded with massive bombings on the territory and urged civilians to flee to the south.

On October 27, it launched land operations in the north, of which it gradually took control.

The intensity of the strikes and the extent of the destruction have provoked international criticism and concern about the fate of the Palestinian civilian population, deprived of water, electricity, food and medicine by the total siege imposed by Israel.

Humanitarian aid is increasing with the entry into force of a truce on November 24, but remains very insufficient for UN agencies.

During the seven days of truce, 105 hostages were released, including 80 Israelis or dual nationals in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. According to Israeli authorities, 129 hostages kidnapped on October 7 remain detained in Gaza. Around twenty are presumed dead.

Hostilities resumed on December 1. In the following days, Israeli strikes and ground fighting extended to the south of the Gaza Strip, in particular to the large city of Khan Younes.

Faced with the very high number of Palestinian civilians killed, American President Joe Biden speaks for the first time of “indiscriminate” bombings on Gaza and a possible “erosion” of international support for Israel, which in turn warns that the war will last a long time, “only a few months left.”

Bombings on the territory left more than 19,000 dead, the vast majority of them women, children and adolescents, according to the Hamas government. Some 85% of the population has been displaced according to the UN.

Ukraine’s arduous counter-offensive

In January, the Russian army, reinforced by 300,000 reservists and supported by the paramilitaries of the Wagner group, went on the attack again, particularly in Donbass, in eastern Ukraine.

In May, Moscow claimed the capture of Bakhmut, at the end of the longest and bloodiest battle since the start of the Russian invasion, on February 24, 2022.

kyiv’s counter-offensive, long awaited by its Western allies, was launched at the beginning of June to try to reconquer the territories occupied by Moscow.

But it comes up against solid Russian defenses. Despite billions in Western military aid, the Ukrainian army has only managed to retake a handful of villages in the south and east.

On June 24, fighters from the Wagner group, who had entered into rebellion, marched towards Moscow. President Vladimir Putin denounces the “betrayal” of their leader, Yevgeni Prigojine, who finally orders his men to “return” to their camps.

The death, two months later, of Wagner’s boss in a plane crash raised questions, with Westerners and Ukraine suspecting Kremlin involvement.

After months of unsuccessful counter-offensive, kyiv claimed in mid-November to have pushed the Russian army back several kilometers to the left bank of the Dnieper River, in the southern region of Kherson.

While international attention is focused on the war between Israel and Hamas, the West, led by the Americans, are now procrastinating on the extent of the political, military and financial aid to be provided to their Ukrainian ally.

In mid-December, European Union leaders gave the green light to Ukraine’s accession negotiations, but Hungary refused to lift its veto on new financial aid.

Deadly earthquakes

On the night of February 5 to 6, one of the deadliest earthquakes in 100 years devastated southeastern Turkey and part of Syria.

The 7.8 magnitude quake, followed by another nine hours later, left at least 56,000 dead, including nearly 6,000 on the Syrian side.

Powerful images are going around the world: a father shaking the hand of his 15-year-old daughter, buried under rubble in Turkey; or that of a miraculous newborn in Syria, still connected to his dead mother by the umbilical cord.

Another deadly earthquake, in Morocco. It was 11:11 p.m. (10:11 p.m. GMT) this Friday, September 8 when a violent earthquake shook the Marrakech region in the center of the Cherifian kingdom.

With a magnitude of 6.8 to 7, the most powerful to have ever been measured in this country, this earthquake left behind nearly 3,000 dead and more than 5,600 injured.

The earthquake damaged some 60,000 homes in nearly 3,000 villages in the High Atlas and its surrounding areas, which are sometimes very difficult to access.

– Rise of instability in Africa –

Africa has experienced two coups d’état in 2023: in Niger, a Sahel country prey to jihadist violence, soldiers took power on July 26, citing the “deterioration of the security situation”. The ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, has since been sequestered in his residence.

In Gabon, a military putsch overthrew Ali Bongo Ondimba on August 30, just after a presidential election widely criticized for its irregularities and resulting in him being elected for a third term.

Ali Bongo, whose family has ruled this Central African country for more than 55 years, is still in Libreville but free to move.

Since April 15, a war in Sudan between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and the paramilitary forces of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdane Daglo has left 12,000 dead according to the UN, a figure surely very low. estimated.

After Mali and the Central African Republic in 2022, France had to withdraw its troops from two other former colonies, Burkina Faso in February and Niger from October, under pressure from the powers in place and the hostility of public opinion.

– Artificial intelligence shakes up Hollywood –

From May, the American screenwriters, joined in mid-July by the actors, went on strike to demand better remuneration and supervision of artificial intelligence (AI).

This movement, unprecedented since 1960 in Hollywood, ends in September on the screenwriter side, with a salary agreement and protections on the use of AI.

The actors, worried that studios would use this technology to clone their voices and images, in order to reuse them in perpetuity without compensation or consent, only ratified the agreement ending their strike at the beginning of December.

In addition to salary advances, the strike made it possible to impose new restrictions on the use of AI.

It paralyzed the production of American films and series for several months and cost the American economy at least $6 billion.

Several major productions, including the series “Stranger Things,” have been delayed.

– The planet is overheating –

Gathering in Dubai at the end of the year for the 28th UN climate conference, countries from around the world for the first time approved a historic compromise, paving the way for the gradual abandonment of fossil fuels causing warming.

After six consecutive months of records between June and November, the European Copernicus Observatory has warned that the year 2023 will be the hottest in history in the world.

These temperatures are accompanied by droughts synonymous with famines, devastating fires or intensified hurricanes.

Canada thus experienced a historic forest fire season this year, with more than 18 million hectares burned and 200,000 people displaced.

Fires in Hawaii in August virtually razed the tourist town of Lahaina on Maui and killed 97 people.

Greece was hit hard by fires during the summer (at least 26 deaths), including the largest ever recorded in the European Union, in Evros (north-east). Floods then devastated the fertile plain of Thessaly (center) in September, killing 17 people.

Violent fires fueled by the heatwave also ravaged the tourist islands of Rhodes and Corfu, and areas of the Mediterranean basin such as Algeria and Sicily.

– Return to the Moon –

The Moon has found itself at the heart of the space race. On August 23, India managed to land an unmanned rocket, Chandrayaan-3, in an unexplored area near the South Pole, a first.

A few days earlier, the Russian probe Luna-25, Moscow’s first mission to the Moon since 1976, had crashed in the same region, the subject of all attention because there is water there in the form of ice.

Before India, only the United States, the Soviet Union and China had achieved controlled moon landings.

The American NASA is counting on the Starship rocket, developed by SpaceX – Elon Musk’s company – for its Artemis missions returning to the Moon, with the ambition of bringing astronauts back there in 2025, for the first time. times since 1972.

Starship’s first two flights, in April and November, ended in explosions.

In preparation for their new manned missions, the United States is also counting on the private sector to bring scientific instruments to the Moon.

A rocket from the ULA group is due to take off on December 24 from Florida, carrying a lander from the American start-up Astrobotic, which is due to attempt to land on January 25.

The Japanese start-up ispace failed in April to land its Hakuto-R module on the moon, but the Japanese space agency Jaxa launched a new lunar mission at the beginning of September.

Forced kiss in Spanish football

On August 20, a few minutes after Spain’s coronation at the Women’s World Cup in Sydney, Luis Rubiales, then president of the Spanish Football Federation, kissed striker Jenni Hermoso on the mouth by surprise, provoking international indignation.

While Jenni Hermoso denounces a “sexist, inappropriate and without any consent” act on her part, Luis Rubiales maintains for a long time that it is only “a little consented kiss”, before resigning on September 10.

Charged with “sexual assault” by the courts, he was suspended for three years from any football-related activity by Fifa (international federation).

This “#MeToo of Spanish football” had an even stronger impact as women’s football, like this ninth edition of the World Cup, is generating growing enthusiasm.

Blitzkrieg offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh
On September 19, Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist territory with an Armenian majority that Baku and Yerevan have disputed for more than three decades.

This mountainous enclave — which unilaterally proclaimed its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, with the support of Armenia — has already been the scene of two wars between the former Soviet republics of the Caucasus (from 1988 to 1994 and fall 2020).

In 24 hours, the territorial authorities, abandoned by Yerevan, capitulated and a ceasefire was concluded. After this lightning offensive, which left nearly 600 dead, the majority of the 120,000 inhabitants fled to Armenia, while Nagorno-Karabakh announced its dissolution on January 1, 2024.

In mid-November, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), seized by Yerevan, ordered Baku to allow a “safe” return of the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The peace negotiations made no progress until a joint declaration on December 7, in which the two countries committed to taking “concrete measures” to “normalize” their ties. An exchange of prisoners of war took place on December 13.

An ultraliberal at the head of Argentina
The ultraliberal Javier Milei, 53, became president of Argentina on December 10, after his large victory in the November 19 election against the centrist Sergio Massa.

This “anti-system” has initiated shock therapy for Latin America’s third largest economy, in the grip of record inflation and to which it had promised “chainsaw” cuts in public spending.

In a series of “emergency” measures, the government announced a devaluation of more than 50% of the peso, the reduction of transport and energy subsidies, and drastic reductions in the senior civil service.

Milei aims to ultimately “dollarize” the economy and promised during his campaign to abolish the Central Bank.

His young party, La Libertad Avanza, being only the third force in the lower house of Parliament, with 38 deputies out of 257, Milei will however have to form alliances to get his projects voted on.

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