A look at the top 10 news events of 2013
As the world readies to wave a goodbye to 2013, we here provide a glimpse of the top news stories that took place during this eventful year, listed in a chronological order.
Military operation in Mali
On January 11, French President Francois Hollande announced that the French armed forces had begun a military operation in Mali to help its government fight al-Qaeda-linked rebels controlling the northern part of the country.
The government in Mali urged France’s support after Islamist rebels begun expanding their territory towards the south. Western countries said they feared Islamist fighters would launch attacks threatening Europe and other parts of the world.
Hundreds of French soldiers were involved in the mission, which the United Nations said was in accordance with international laws.
French forces managed to expel al-Qaeda fighters from the Malian cities of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal, according to France 24. However, Islamist rebels have continued to launch attacks targeting French and Malian troops in the country.
A French soldier stands guard in an armored vehicle as a helicopter carrying Army Chief of Staff General Bertrand Ract-Madoux leaves a position in in northern Mali on March 21, 2013. (Reuters)
Pope Francis election
On March 13, the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church chose a new pope after Pope Benedict XVI announced a historic resignation.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected and adopted the name Pope Francis.
Pope Francis, who is Argentinian, is considered to be the first non-European pope to be elected in more than 1,300 years.
Pope Francis greets children assisted by volunteers of Santa Marta institute during an audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican on Dec. 14, 2013. (Reuters)
U.S. Boston bombings
On April 15, two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing at least three people and injuring 200 more. Two Chechen brothers, who immigrated to the United States in their childhood, were behind the attacks. Authorities said Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev carried out the bombings in retaliation for U.S. involvement in Muslim countries.
On April 15, two pressure cooker bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. (Reuters)
The 2013 protests in Turkey started on May 28, 2013, initially to contest the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. Protest soon spiraled into a nationwide wave of protest against Prime Recep Tayyip Minister Erdogan, accused by his critics of becoming increasingly authoritarian.
Five people died during the protests, which saw the use of plastic bullets and water cannons by riot police and according to an indictment by a Turkish prosecutor in the province of Antalya, more than 3.1 million people joined the street protests in 80 provinces of Turkey, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported in December.
Currently, 167 people are under arrest for their involvement in the protests.
This year, Turkey also witnessed a corruption scandal resulting in the resignation of key government figures.
The crisis erupted on Dec. 17 when police detained the sons of three ministers as part of a sweeping investigation, in one of the most brazen challenges to Erdogan’s 10-year rule.
In early morning raids the police also found $4.5 million stashed in shoeboxes in the home of one of the suspects, the chief executive of Turkish state-owned Halkbank.
A total of 89 people, including several close Erdogan allies were detained in the dawn raids, sparking a crisis which rattled the stock market and sent the Turkish lira to an all-time low.
Riot police use water cannons to clear a protest in Turkey. (Reuters)
On July 3, 2013, the Egyptian armed forces ousted the country’s first elected civilian President Mohamed Mursi, following four days of nationwide protests demanding his departure.
Mursi’s removal after just a year in office marked another twist in Egypt’s turmoil since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
Armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the nation on that day saying Mursi had failed to meet demands for national unity.
A range of political leaders backed the Egyptian military’s move, while some remained reluctant to accept it.
As a result of the move, former Egyptian judge Adly Mansour was sworn in as interim president on July 4.
Supporters of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic movement he hails from, took to the streets and protested against his overthrow, calling it a “military coup.”
Thousands of Mursi’s supporters had been camped at two major sites in Cairo demanding his return to power.
On August 14, 2013, Egypt has witnessed one of the bloodiest days in decades, when security forces crushed protest camps belonging to Muslim Brotherhood supporters.
Armored bulldozers moved deep into the main camp near Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. More than 200 people were killed in the assault.
The army-backed government later announced a state of emergency as fierce clashes spread across the country in response to dispersing the Cairo sit-in.
The use of violence was defended by Egypt’s interim authorities but was condemned by the U.S. and some other Western governments.
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi wave Egyptian flags and shout slogans against him during a protest in Cairo on. June 30, 2013. (Reuters)
Chemical attacks in Syria
On August 21, 2013, the world woke up to a new deadly massacre in the Syrian crisis when video footage showing bodies of civilians on the ground reportedly killed by a toxic lethal gas on the outskirts of Damascus.
The Syrian opposition blamed forces loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the attack, which killed nearly a thousand people. Syria’s government however blamed the attack on foreign fighters and their international backers.
Bodies seen in footage circulated on the internet showed signs of people being killed from asphyxiation, analysts said.
A U.N. mission that went to Syria to investigate the attacks on specific sites said there was “convincing evidence” of the use of the toxic sarin gas against civilians in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta, and few more sites.
A report released by the United Nations in September confirmed the use of chemical weapons but did not explicitly blame any side of the conflict.
The United States threatened to launch military strikes against the Syrian government to deter further chemical attacks.
But President Barack Obama’s administration set an agreement with Russia, Syria’s main ally, to convince the Syrian regime to put its chemical arsenal under international control.
In October, International chemical experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) began overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, a mission that is expected to continue until mid-2014.
A U.N. chemical weapons expert, wearing a gas mask, holds a plastic bag containing samples from one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack in Damascus on August 29, 2013. (Reuters)
Kenya’s Westgate mall attack
On September 21, 2013, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group stormed an upscale shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, killing over 67 people, among them were 61 civilians, six security personnel and five militants.
Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group claimed responsibility for the Westgate mall attack. It said it was retaliation for the presence of Kenyan soldiers in southern Somalia.
Horrific pictures and videos were released showing militants spraying bullets and grenades at shoppers, executing unarmed men, and victims escaping to save their lives.
A police officer tries to secure an area inside the Westgate Shopping Centre where gunmen went on a shooting spree in Nairobi on Sept. 21, 2013. (Reuters)
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
On November 8, 2013, a strong typhoon smashed into the islands of Philippines, killing at least 6,102 people, with nearly 1800 missing, and 4 million either homeless, according to Reuters.
Haiyan is considered to be the strongest typhoon to ever hit Philippines.
The United Nations appealed for the world for funds to help the country recover from the amount of devastation caused by Haiyan.
An aerial view of a coastal town, devastated by super Typhoon Haiyan, in Samar province in central Philippines on Nov. 11, 2013. (Reuters)
Iranian nuclear deal
The interim deal struck between Tehran and Western powers may have been one of the political highlights of 2013. On Nov. 24, Iran sealed a deal with six world powers in exchange for limited sanctions relief.
The move consists of a six-month process aimed at a permanent solution to the decade-old stalemate over Iran nuclear program. The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of building nuclear weapons.
According to the landmark deal, Iran is committed to stop uranium enrichment above five percent, in return for some $7 billion in sanctions relief. World powers have also agreed not to impose any fresh sanctions for six months if Iran abides by the deal.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (2nd R) hugs French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius after a ceremony at the United Nations in Geneva on Nov. 24, 2013. (Reuters)
Nelson Mandela’s death
On December 5, 2013, the world lost South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela, who died at his house aged 95 after a prolonged lung infection.
The announcement of his death shook many in South Africa and around the world, prompting people to take to the streets, lit up candles and recite their prayers to mourn Mandela.
Tributes for Mandela began flooding from around the world. The flags of many governmental and international institutions were flown at half mast.
A police officer places a photo of former South African President Nelson Mandela outside of Mandela’s house in Johannesburg on Dec. 15, 2013. (Reuters)