Your cheat-sheet to developments around the world in 2018, and what to expect in 2019. For almost two years on a weekly basis, I have been summarising news stories across six regions – Africa, the Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America – and for the first time I am summarising the biggest stories from 2018, focused on drawing links across the year. Not included in the following are global developments, including the broad agreement on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the CPTPP, without the United States and the unfortunate spread of measles.
I gathered the following information from all 52 “The Weekly Global Roundup” posts from 2018, organising them based on their regions and countries. Other potential ways of aggregating the roundups include hyperlink or comment count analysis (to facilitate the identification of the genesis of an issue and to trace the development of an issue across time) as well as content or text analysis paired with counts of tags (to determine the frequency of a country or an issue), which I may explore in the future.
- DR Congo: Long overdue elections. One of its worst Ebola outbreak, among many in the year.
- Ethiopia: Resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn after protests. Swearing in of Abiy Ahmed Ali, Africa’s youngest leader. Engaged in conflict resolution with Eritrea. Later signing declaration to end hostilities. Crossing points at the shared border were reopened. Experienced diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde was elected by parliament as the country’s first female president.
- Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta winning re-election despite a nullified first one, irregularities, and the withdrawal of an oppositional candidate.
- Somalia: Constant attacks by militant group al-Shabaab. Throughout the year.
- South Africa: Worries that Cape Town could be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Former president Jacob Zuma ordered by his party to step down as head of state.
- Tunisia: Protests against a government hike of staple goods and the introduction of new taxes. Low turnout during the country’s first local elections since the Arab Spring in 2011.
- Zimbabwe: The first general election since the ouster of Robert Mugabe saw a high voter turnout. The ruling Zanu-PF party won a majority of parliamentary seats. Despite irregularities, President Emmerson Mnangagwa won his election too. Cholera outbreak.
- Armenia: Two weeks of mass street protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan. Former journalist Nikol Pashinian was later elected. He resigned, but later won the early election.
- Australia: Ouster of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull by Treasurer Scott Morrison, despite surviving an earlier leadership vote. His government was forced into minority government after losing a by-election. Food scares, with needles found in strawberries.
- Cambodia: Ruling party winning all seats up for election in the Senate. The party of Prime Minister Hun Sen regained power in a landslide.
- China: National People’s Congress voting to remove term limits for its leader. President Xi Jinping voted for a second term. The country is holding the missing head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei. Controversially, a Chinese scientist created the world’s first genetically-edited babies
- India: A national health protection scheme. All villages having access to electricity. Its Supreme Court ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence, decriminalised “triple talaq”, an struck down a colonial-era law which made adultery illegal.
- Malaysia: Former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad defeated scandal-plagued Prime Minister Najib Razak to become the world’s oldest leader.
- Maldives: The release of top opposition politicians, which gave the opposition the majority in the assembly. Political crisis and a state of emergency. Later, President Abdulla Yameen was defeated by opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
- Myanmar: Persistent assault against more than 650,000 Rohingyas, which has been characterised as a genocide in the making. Continued denial, despite conclusions of United Nations investigators that military leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes. There were earlier attempts to work with Bangladesh. Two Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo jailed for covering an incident.
- North Korea: Détente with South Korea, including inter-Korean talks and athletes marching under the same flag at the Winter Olympics and crossing over into South Korea for a historic summit. More inter-Korea summits and meetings with China. Leader Kim Jong-un meeting with President Donald Trump in Singapore.
- Pakistan: Former cricket star Imran Khan was elected prime minister.
- Russia: Suspected attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter in the United Kingdom (UK). Two citizens from the UK were also exposed to the Novichok nerve agent. One later died. President Vladimir Putin elected in a landslide.
- Sri Lanka: Violent political crisis.
- Thailand: 12 boys and their football coach were dramatically rescued from a cave.
- The Philippines: Clashes between President Rodrigo Duterte and the media, news site Rappler in particular.
- Turkey: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decisively won presidential elections. Switched to an executive presidency.
- Catalonia: Continued fallout from its independence referendum to secede from Spain. Protests continued, up to the point of and even after the one-year anniversary.
- Germany: Struggles of Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a coalition government. Having formed a government, she had to agree to tighten Germany’s border with Austria and to build screening camps for asylum seekers. Miss Merkel said she would not seek another term as Germany’s chancellor
- France: Resignation of multiple cabinet ministers. “Yellow vest” protests against President Emmanuel Macron.
- Hungary: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán winning re-election. Like Austria, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic (and the United States), it withdrew from a non-binding United Nations pact on migration
- Ireland: Voted to overturn a ban on abortion.
- Italy: Hung parliament and a period of political turbulence. Populist parties in the Five Star Movement and the League (Lega Nord) then formed the government.
- Macedonia: A name deal with Greece. The referendum to change its name to North Macedonia ended inconclusively with a low turnout.
- Spain: Ouster of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, after losing a vote of no confidence.
- Sweden: Prime Minister Stefan Löfven lost a no confidence vote.
- The United Kingdom (Brexit): Struggles to reconcile “hard” and “soft” Brexit. Initial political agreement before Brexit on March 29, 2019. Irish border is a sticking point. Preparing for a no-deal Brexit. The 27 remaining European Union leaders then signed off the Brexit agreement with the UK. Prime Minister Theresa May winning her party’s vote of no confidence.
The Middle East
- Afghanistan: Escalated Taliban attacks. Offers of amnesty to the Taliban. Then a temporary ceasefire. Continued violence regardless.
- Egypt: State of emergency following church bombings in 2017. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi winning a second term.
- Israel: Recommendations of indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on suspicion of bribery fraud and breach of trust.
- Iran: Anti-government protests against rising prices, corruption, and interventions abroad. Prolonged, extensive, and severe drought.
- Iraq: Parliamentary elections plagued by allegations of fraud.
- Jordan: Replacement of the prime minister by King Abdullah to diffuse the biggest protests in years.
- Lebanon: First national elections in almost a decade.
- Palestine: Demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border for consecutive weeks.
- Saudi Arabia: Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has sought to consolidate his power, including the detention of 11 princes who protested against austerity measures. He is said to have ordered the assassination of prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Syria: Continued proxy battle and fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Eighth year of the civil war.
- Yemen: Continuation of two separate but overlapping conflicts. Humanitarian and malnourishment crisis. Casualties from the Saudi-led coalition.
- Political developments: Government shutdown in January. Democrats took back the House of Representatives.
- President Donald Trump: “America first is not America alone“. State of the Union on the economy and immigration. Tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, with mixed results from negotiations. Escalating trade war with China. Withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. Moved the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in Israel. Withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Family separation at the border, which ended promptly. Lashing out against a caravan of Honduran immigrants. Accepting a reworked NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.
- Teacher protests for better pay: In West Virginia. Then Kentucky and Oklahoma. Arizona. Colorado. North Carolina.
- Argentina: Sought a precautionary loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A bailout loan deal was later requested from the IMF, as its currency fell and its inflation rate rose. A lost-and-found submarine. Sunk deeper into recession.
- Brazil: Record-high murder rates and violence. A criminal conviction against former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is later sent to prison. A fire engulfed the National Museum of Brazil. Far-right former army captain Jair Bolsonaro won the presidential election.
- Colombia: Former terror group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, making a miserable showing in congressional and presidential primary elections. Conservative candidate Ivan Duque won the presidential run-off.
- Haiti: Oxfam apologising for its prostitution and sexual scandal. Protests triggered by an unpopular fuel hike led to the resignation of Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant.
- Mexico: Continued violence against citizens and journalists. Former mayor of Mexico City Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the presidential elections in a landslide.
- Nicaragua: Authoritarian President Daniel Ortega under fire for accusations of political abuse and oppression.
- Paraguay: Former president of the Senate Mario Abdo Benítez won the country’s presidential election.
- Venezuela: The political controversy surrounding President Nicolás Maduro, who despite his low approval rating has exploited the opposition’s lack of unity and coordination. Soaring hyperinflation rates. Mr. Maduro winning a re-election rigged in his favour. An exodus of Venezuelans.