2017 Year in Review - World News

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Top events for the nation and the world in 2017

Smog Alert

China and India Face Pollution Issues
Smog Alert in China
On January 13, China issued its first-ever nationwide red alert for smog. A chronic problem, air pollution gets so bad in Beijing and other cities across northern and central China that authorities are forced to delay flights and close highways. Twenty-four cities are currently on red alert for smog, while an additional 21 are on orange alert. Later in the year on November 9, entry of trucks and construction work was halted in New Delhi, as the capital of India declared a pollution emergency. According to Reuters, the U.S. embassy reported that the “measure of tiny particulate matter PM 2.5 showed a reading of 608 … when the safe limit is 50.” (Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Andy Wong, File

Brexit Bill

The Journey of the Brexit Bill
Brexit Bill
On February 1, the House of Commons debated and voted on the legal implementation of the UK's exit from the European Union, which passed a public referendum prior. Prime Minister Theresa May lead the charge in favor of Brexit, and overcame the opposition in a vote of 498-114, marking the beginning of the country's separation from the EU. On March 28, the United Kingdom officially notified the European Council that it was invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, divorcing itself from the EU. Until this point, the decision to leave was internal, and could be halted at any point by an act of Parliament. Prime Minister Theresa May submitted a letter that formally began the UK's withdrawal from the European Union, a process that may take up to two years to complete. As of December, Prime Minister Theresa May is in the middle of economic negotiations regarding England's separation from the EU. (BBC)
Photo source: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

North Korea

The Missile Crisis with North Korea
North Korea Missile
On February 18, China froze all coal imports from North Korea in response to the nation's continued development of ballistic missiles. China is North Korea's most important trade partner and ally. The suspension of trade (as well as tension over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, who was protected by China) prompted North Korea to send top diplomats to Beijing. On March 7, the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system (THAAD) started deployment in South Korea by the U.S. Military. The system is meant to deter missiles from North Korea, but many in the South believe that the deployment is going to lead to an escalation of the conflict rather than an improvement. On April 5, the North Korean military began a test on a medium-range ballistic missile. The missile, which could be fitted with nuclear armaments, was fired 37 miles east of the Korean Peninsula into the Sea of Japan. U.S. and South Korean officials claim that the missile was directed towards Japan, perhaps as a threat or as provocation. Later, on April 16, leading members of the U.S. and South Korean militaries report that North Korea had attempted another ballistic missile test, this time met with utter failure. The missile, launched near the coastal city of Sinpo, North Korea, failed and exploded right after launch. Months later, on May 2, the North Korean government announced plans to increase its development of nuclear weapons to "maximum pace," and to conduct a nuclear test in the near future. Military demonstrations and the deployment of THAAD have contributed to the hostile climate. On July 4, the North Korean army tested its first real intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States. The missile traveled several hundred miles into the Sea of Japan, a clear signal to the United States’ closest ally in the Pacific. On August 29, in the latest of many ballistic missile tests, the North Korean military launched a Hwasong-12 missile nearly two thousand miles over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. Japan immediately went on high alert, and key Japanese allies were quick to condemn the provocation. China similarly spoke out against the launch, but many are skeptical about Beijing's ability to rein in their aggressive neighbor. On September 3, the North Korean government announced that they have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The bomb causes tremors for a significant distance, and the seismic readings lead experts to estimate the bomb to have a yield around 120 kilotons. This is one of the largest nuclear devices ever detonated. The bombs dropped on Japan had around 45 kilotons together. Finally, on November 30, North Korea successfully launched a missile, stating that it now possesses the power to hit the U.S. mainland. President Trump has commented, stating, “we will handle it.” (BBC/Reuters/CNN)
Photo source: AP Photo/Andy Wong

Airstrikes in Syria

Syria Faces Multiple Air Strikes
President Trump
On April 7, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered a strike against a Syrian airfield. The U.S. military launched 60 Tomahawk missiles at the Ash Sha'irat airbase. The attack came in retaliation for the Assad government's suspected use of chemical weapons on civilian targets in the town of Khan Shaykhun. Official estimates claim the attack killed six soldiers and nine civilians, with children among the casualties. Later, approximately 34 civilians--including 9 children--were killed from September 10-12 along the River Euphrates in Syria, in what is suspected to be Russian airstrikes. These reports have not been verified by the Russian government. Finally, three air strikes hit Aterab on November 13, killing an estimated amount of 61 people. Aterab is a de-escalation zone, which had noticed less bloodshed before this attack. (Reuters/CNN/BBC)
Photo source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

ISIS Attacks

Terrorist Attacks Around the World Claimed by ISIS
ISIS Attacks
A New Year's day attack in Istanbul, Turkey, left at least 39 dead and dozens wounded. ISIS claimed responsibility, calling the perpetrator "a hero soldier of the caliphate" and describing the scene just after midnight at the Reina nightclub: "They used hand grenades and a machine gun and transformed their celebration to mourning." This was the first attack of 2017 claimed by ISIS. To see all attacks claimed by ISIS in 2017, visit our 2017 ISIS Attacks page.
Photo source: AP Photo/Pervez Masih

Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage Continues to be Legalized Around the World
Legalizing Gay Marriage
On May 24, Taiwanese LGBT rights supporters poured out in celebration of the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. This ruling may pave the way for full legal recognition of non-traditional unions, granting access to previously denied benefits and legal protections. A month later, on June 30, the German legislature voted on allowing same-sex marriage in Germany. Angela Merkel has previously opposed the issue, and voted against same-sex marriage in the official vote, but decided to open up the issue for voting earlier that week. The measure passed by a stark majority, 393 for, 226 against. It is expected to take full effect before the end of 2017, at which point same-sex marriages will be legal, and receive the full benefits of marriage in Germany. Later in the year, on August 28, quickly following up on her successful public campaign to legalize select abortion, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet made good on her campaign promise to send a same-sex marriage bill to Congress. Chile recognized civil unions two years prior, but the current bill would extend the full rights and privileges of marriage and adoption to same-sex marriage in Chile. Finally, on November 29, the Australian Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The vote was passed 43-12, after an overwhelming amount of people expressed their support in a recent survey. (New York Times/The Guardian/Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying

ISIS Dwindles

ISIS Begins to Lose Power
Leader of ISIS
On June 16, the Russian Ministry of Defence claimed that it might have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared the start of the caliphate, during operations around the city of Raqqa. The strike was dropped in May, but there had been no confirmation of the militant’s death. Expert groups eventually concluded that al-Baghdadi probably was killed, although it is difficult to prove. The death of their leader was a substantial blow to ISIL as Iraqi and American troops moved in on Mosul. Months later, on November 9, Syria declared victory against the Islamic State after its three year rule. The announcement came after Syria captured the jihadists’ last town, though the Islamic State still remains in control in the desert regions of the country. On December 5, it was announced that fewer than 3,000 IS fighters remain in Syria and Iraq. However, U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon maintains that the group still possesses a certain threat to the area. (BBC/Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Militant Video, File

Kenya's Election

The Controversial Election in Kenya Turns Violent
Election in Kenya
On September 1, following intense scrutiny of last month's elections, the Supreme Court of Kenya motioned to discount the results of the previous election. Watchdog groups estimated that over a million votes were fraudulent or tampered. The court called for a new election to take place in the coming weeks, to the vexation of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his supporters, who had seemingly eked out a close victory. The election re-run took place on Saturday, October 28, but protesters affected both the voting polls and the results from being announced. It was estimated that the continuing violence killed around 50 civilians during these protests. A month later, it was announced on October 30 that Uhuru Kenyatta won 98% of the vote for president of Kenya, despite only 39% of people coming out to vote due to the boycott of the election. Though Kenyatta’s re-election is now final, many small protests continue to appear throughout the country. On November 6, a petition was filed by lawyer Harun Mwau, challenging President Kenyatta’s victory. Failing to make a decision by November 14, President Kenyatta was sworn in in November 28. Riot police used teargas on the scene shortly after Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, promised he would be sworn in later in December. During his speech, Kenyatta did his best to urge citizens overcome the division that had occurred during the election. (BBC/Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Ben Curtis

Catalonia's Fight for Independence

Catalonia Fights for Independence
People Fight for Independence
On September 6, the parliament of Catalonia approved a call for a referendum on Catalonian independence from Spain, following presentations from pro-independence advocates. The president of Spain urged that the government in Barcelona ignore the bill, but many in Catalonia, a region whose primary language is not Spanish, feel that their interests are not represented in the Cortes Generals, the legislature of Spain. On October 1, Catalonia approved the independence referendum. This decision sparked protests throughout the region, as the Spanish government attempted to halt voting. On October 31, the declaration of independence made by Catalonia on October 27 was blocked by Spain’s Constitutional Court. The court also fired Catalonia’s government and set December 21 as the date for regional elections. (BBC/Reuters)
Photo source: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

American Family Freed

American Family Freed from Afghanistan
American Family
After five years of capture, a family of five has been released from Afghanistan’s Haqqani network—a faction of the Taliban—on October 12, 2017. Working together, U.S. officials and the Pakistani government eventually agreed on a release of the family. (The New York Times )
Photo source: AP Photo/Bill Gorman

Plague in Madagascar

Madagascar Suffers a Plague Outbreak
Madagascar Plague
Though Madagascar has a plague outbreak nearly every year, it was reported on October 16, that this particular year is more concerning. Experts have said the infections are beginning earlier this year and infecting new regions, and over 680 cases have been reported, which is quite the jump from the average 400. Of these 680 cases, 57 have proved fatal, and the government continues to take precautionary measures to keep that number from rising. (CNN)
Photo source: AP Photo/Alexander Joe


Zimbabwe’s President Under House Arrest
Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, was placed on house arrest by the military on November 15. The military seized the local TV station and claimed their goal was to eliminate “criminals.” The President has been reported as safe, as well as his family. On November 24, it was announced that Emmerson Mnangagwa was the new prsident. Mnangagwa highlighted his intention to focus on the needs of citizens, attempting to bridge many gaps that have appeared between groups. In another speech on November 28, Mnangagwa granted a three month amnesty period for the return of public funds in hopes of mending the country. (BBC)
Photo source: AP Photo


Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
Reversing decades of U.S. policy, President Trump announced on December 7 that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. President Trump is working towards moving the embassy. The announcement has received much criticism from allies and enemies of the U.S. (Reuters)
Photo source: Debbie Hill, Pool via AP

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