June 2013 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of June 2013.
Taliban Opens Office in Qatar (June): The Taliban opens an office in Doha, Qatar, and its representatives hold a press conference with an international media contingent. The U.S. says it will begin long-delayed peace talks with the group. Afghanistan was expected to do the same, but instead says it will not engage in any dialogue with the Taliban, saying such discussions lent the militants credibility. Karzai also seems to want to control the terms of the talks, saying they must be "Afghan-owned and Afghan-led," implying they cannot be held in Qatar. In addition, Karzai pulls out of talks with the U.S. on the important status-of-forces agreement (SOFA), which will govern the status of remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the U.S. withdraws in 2014. (June 18): The Afghan National Security Force assumes complete responsibility for the security of the country, taking over the last areas under NATO control. The 352,000-troop force has shown steady improvement over the past few years and has assumed control over most urban areas. The transition is an important milestone in the country's fight against the Taliban and its move away from dependence on outside forces for stability.
Anti-Government Protests in Turkey Call for Erdogan's Resignation (June 1): Police withdraw from Istanbul's Gezi Park in Taksim Square and let the occupation continue. Protesters criticize Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan for being authoritarian and call for his resignation. Erdogan initially dismisses the protesters as "thugs," but agrees to meet with representatives of the many groups of demonstrators. (June 11): Police storm the park, again spraying protesters with tear gas and water, and force protesters out of the area. The protests are compared to the Occupy movement that took hold in the U.S. in September 2011. Erdogan has been popular since taking office in 2003, leading an economic recovery, expanding the middle class, and weakening the influence of the military. At the same time, his critics accuse him of being heavy-handed and allowing his religious views to influence his leadership.
Reports of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria Continues (June 4): A human rights team working for the United Nations reports that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that government forces in Syria have used chemical weapons. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius reports that sarin, a nerve gas, has been used on multiple occasions. (June 5): Syrian rebels pull out of the town of Al-Qusayr, a former strategic stronghold for them. The Syrian Army regains control of the town. Iran's government, in an official statement, congratulates the Syrian army for recapturing Al-Qusayr.
Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal Win French Open (June 8): Serena Williams beats last year's champion, Maria Sharapova, 6-4, 6-4, to win her second French Open women's championship. It is exactly eleven years to the day that Serena beat her older sister Venus to win her first French Open in 2002. (June 9): Rafael Nadal beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, to take the men's crown for a record eighth time. The men's championship is interrupted by two anti-gay marriage protesters. One of them runs on the court with a flare. The incident is reminiscent of the 1993 on court stabbing of Monica Seles in Germany.
Centrist Wins Presidential Election in Iran (June 15): Hassan Rowhani, a moderate cleric and Iran's former negotiator on nuclear issues, wins June 2013's presidential election, taking just under 51% of the vote. Reformists throw their support behind Rowhani after their preferred candidate, Mohammad Reza Aref, drops out of the race. Thousands of Iranians take to the streets to celebrate Rowhani's victory. While he has the backing of reformists, Rowhani has long been a member of the country's conservative establishment, having served in parliament for more than 20 years and playing a strategic role in the execution of the Iran-Iraq war. He has campaigned on a promise to reach out to the west and improve relations with the United States. After his victory is announced, Rowhani promises to "follow the path of moderation and justice, not extremism."
First Female Australian Prime Minister Resigns (June 26): Prime Minister Julia Gillard resigns after being ousted as Labor Party leader in a party vote. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd replaces her as party leader and, the following day, replaces her as prime minister. It is a dramatic turn of events and ironic because it was Gillard who replaced Rudd as Labor Party leader in 2010. During a news conference after her resignation, Gillard says, "I am pleased that in this environment, which wasn't easy, I have prevailed to ensure that this country is made stronger, and smarter, and fairer for the future." Gillard also says that it was a privilege to serve as Australia's first female prime minister.
Massive Protests Erupt in Egypt (June 30): On the first anniversary of President Mohammed Morsi's inauguration, as many as one million people take to the streets in planned demonstrations throughout Egypt and call for the president to step down. Protesters range from the poor to anti-Islamists to the wealthy and middle class. Their complaints against Morsi include the dismal state of the economy, Morsi's installation of members of the Muslim Brotherhood into many positions of power, as well as his failure to stem the sectarian divide between Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians, among other issues.