2013 leaves behind defining moments
South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. AP PhotoThe year of 2013 saw many key moments in world politics from the fall of governments to militant attacks, disasters to revelations on massive U.S. spying, bloodshed in Syria to remarkable deaths.
In Jan. 16, a total of 37 foreign hostages from eight different countries, along with 11 Algerian workers, were killed in an attack on a gas facility in southern Algeria. The four-day siege ended when troops mounted an assault.
Pope Benedict stunned the Roman Catholic Church in February when he announced he would stand down, the first pope to do so in 700 years, saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to carry on. In March, Pope Francis became the 266th pope of the Catholic Church. Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, the first Pope from the Americas, the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first non-European Pope since Pope Gregory III, 1272 years earlier. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, died on March 5 after a long battle with cancer.
In March 14, Xi Jinping became the Chinese president, completing the formal transition of power to a new generation in the world’s second-largest economy. Three people were killed and 144 others were injured in April 15 as two powerful explosions detonated in quick succession near the Boston Marathon finish line in Boston. In April 24, the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse killed 1,135 people in Bangladesh, highlighting the dangerous conditions in which Bangladesh garment workers made clothes for mainly Western retailers.
In June, ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden leaked explosive details of the secret U.S. surveillance schemes to media and fled the United States to avoid prosecution. A moderate cleric, Hassan Rouhani, was elected as the new Iranian president in the same month. While in New York for the United Nations General Assembly in September, Rouhani held an historic telephone call with Barack Obama, the first time the presidents of the two nations have spoken in more than three decades. World powers and Iran struck a historic deal on Tehran’s nuclear program at talks in Geneva in November. The deal curbs its nuclear program in hopes of preventing Tehran from building a nuclear bomb.
In July, Egypt’s army ousted the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi and suspended the constitution. The removal sparked deadly clashes with over a thousand people, mostly Muslim Brotherhood members, killed. Morsi is now in prison and facing three trials on a wide range of charges.
A chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 near Damascus killed 1,400 people. The U.S.-Russia deal for Syria to surrender more than 1,000 tons of chemical agents averted U.S.-led military strikes.
Islamist extremists raided a shopping center in Kenya where at least 67 people died on Sept. 21. In November, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed 6,111 people.
It was the deadliest disaster in 2013. In Dec. 6, South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate was one of the world’s most revered statesmen after preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.