2024 started with a number of high-profile events and has no plans to stop in the future. During the coming year, many different events are expected in the political, economic and cultural planes. Also, you should not ignore all sorts of global surprises that one way or another can change (or correct) the course of history. As it happened, for example, in 2023. invites you to recall the ten most significant events that surprised humanity over the past year.
Powerful earthquakes in Turkey, Syria, and then Morocco
On February 6, 2023, two of the strongest earthquakes in 80 years, with magnitudes 7.8 and 7.6, occurred in southeastern Turkey.. They also affected northern Syria. The natural disaster destroyed and damaged over 100 thousand buildings. According to official data, it claimed 59,259 lives: 50,783 people died in Turkey and 8,476 in Syria.
As I wrote, this disaster was the deadliest in the world since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The economic damage from the destruction caused by it is estimated at $148.8 billion in Turkey and $14.8 billion in Syria.
Seven months later, on September 8, 2023, the African kingdom of Morocco recorded the most powerful earthquake in its history.. Although its epicenter was in the Atlas Mountains, and most of the destruction occurred in sparsely populated areas, there were still many victims. Moroccan authorities counted 2,960 dead and over 2,500 seriously injured.
Civil war splits Sudan
In the third largest country in Africa, fighting broke out on April 15, 2023, using artillery, tanks, helicopters and fighter jets. The battle for control over Sudan's resources was staged by two of its armies — regular troops led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Reaction Forces, subordinate to Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. Earlier, in 2021, these two military leaders seized power in their country through a coup.
After several weeks of fierce fighting, the war entered a protracted and sluggish phase. The most populous cities of Sudan — Khartoum and Omdurman — were divided into zones of control of two warring armies. By the end of 2023, according to the UN, 12,000 Sudanese had died in the civil war, 1.4 million people had fled the conflict to neighboring countries, and another 5.4 million had become internally displaced.
PMC «Wagner» started an uprising in Russia
On June 23–24, 2023, the world watched with bated breath as Yevgeny Prigozhin rebelled.. The leader of the private military company Wagner announced that his 25,000-strong group is coming from Ukraine to Moscow to deal with the military leadership of Russia. Mercenaries controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin seized administrative buildings in Rostov-on-Don, and the whole world saw footage of residents of this city of 1.1 million rejoicing and welcoming the rebels.
In one day, the main column of Wagnerites traveled 780 kilometers deep into Russia, shooting down several helicopters and an Il-22 strategic fighter.. It stopped about two hundred kilometers from Moscow and turned around after the intervention of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who promised the Wagnerites “security guarantees.”
Prigozhin's rebellion demonstrated the vulnerability of the Putin regime. He showed that putschists in Russia can capture a city of a million people without firing a single shot, and then reach the capital almost unhindered. This raised hopes that the Russian military would decide on a new attempt to overthrow the government.. However, expectations of unrest in the Russian Federation decreased after the liquidation of Yevgeny Prigozhin, who died on August 23 as a result of the crash of his plane in the Tver region.
There have been two armed coups in Africa
On July 26, 2023, the military overthrew President Mohamed Bazoum in Niger, the only pro-Western democracy in the Sahel region.. The junta that came to power strengthened cooperation with Russia and publicly accused France of destabilizing the country. Paris had to withdraw its ambassador and about 1,500 French troops from Niger, who were suppressing a jihadist uprising in the Sahel.
A month later, a coup occurred in another former colony of France. On August 30, 2023, oil-rich Gabon announced the re-election of President Ali ben Bongo Ondimba to a third seven-year term.. However, a group of military officers placed him under arrest, annulled the election results and declared Brigadier General Brice Oliga Nguema the new leader of the country.
US-China geopolitical rollercoaster
Relations between the United States of America and China were close to direct conflict at the beginning of the year, but the situation improved by the end of the year. The beginning of 2023 was marked by the appearance in the US skies of several “reconnaissance balloons” of Chinese origin.. They were shot down by alerted fighters and did not add any warmth to the diplomatic rhetoric.
However, business takes its toll, and on November 16, 2023, Xi visited America, where he met with Joe Biden and American business. China desperately needs to improve its investment attractiveness and is ready to be a negotiable partner of the world's largest economy. The White House appreciated this and slightly lowered the level of statements. In addition, the headquarters of both countries resumed the exchange of information, the cessation of which was seen as a potential escalation of tensions.
Azerbaijan captured Nagorno-Karabakh
The 30-year conflict over the ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh has ended. On September 19, 2023, on the territory of this Armenian enclave, Azerbaijan declared “anti-terrorist measures of a local nature” and began launching missile and artillery strikes. The next day, the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army agreed to lay down its arms at the suggestion of Russian peacekeepers.
After the surrender of the unrecognized republic, over 100,000 people or approximately 85% of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh arrived in Armenia. The outcome sparked protests in Yerevan and raised questions about why Russia did not prevent the enclave's fall and whether it could protect Armenia from further encroachments on its territory.
It took Sam Benkman-Fried exactly a year to turn from a darling of the media and Wall Street into a pariah who actually faces a 120-year prison sentence.. The creator of the FTX crypto exchange was accused of redirecting $8 billion of investor and client money to the accounts of the Alameda Research fund, which, in turn, acquired real estate in the Bahamas, made investments in controversial startups and generously gifted politicians.
The hearings ended in November 2023, and Judge Lewis Kaplan is still mulling over the final text of the sentence for Sam Benkman-Fried.
Venezuela threatens to attack Guyana
At the end of 2023, the world is tense in anticipation of another Putin-style war in Latin America. Venezuelan authorities announced that on December 3, more than 10.4 million of the 20.7 million eligible voters turned out in a consultative referendum and voted almost unanimously to take the oil-rich Essequibo region, which covers about 74% of the country's territory, from neighboring Guyana. home to 125,000 of its 800,000 population.
Experts believe that the unpopular President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro sparked the crisis in order to cancel the presidential elections next year under the pretext of an emergency and avoid losing. He may also be pushed by China and Russia, who are interested in opening a “third front” for the United States, which is “dragging” the war in Ukraine and into the conflict in the Gaza Strip.
Argentina elects far-right leader
Latin America's second-largest economy, one of the most regulated in the world, has changed course. In the elections of November 19, 2023, self-proclaimed “anarcho-liberal” Javier Miley, a supporter of maximum freedom in the economy, was elected president of Argentina.
In December, Javier Miley gave Argentina “shock therapy” to rid the country of 160% inflation. He removed or changed 366 economic regulations, devalued the peso by more than 50%, reduced the number of ministries from 18 to nine, cut fuel and transport subsidies and reduced pensions. Javier Miley's critics say belt-tightening will only make things worse for Argentina. Anti-government protests of many thousands have taken place and are still expected in the country.
Israel has launched a “war of annihilation” against Hamas
In the third quarter of 2023, the brutal conflict in the Middle East captured global attention.. On the morning of October 7, 2023, about 3,000 Palestinian militants from the Hamas group broke through the border barrier from the Gaza Strip and entered nearby Israeli settlements. In one day they killed 1,139 people and captured 242 Israelis.
In response, the Israeli authorities subjected the Gaza Strip to massive bombing, destroying a huge number of buildings over several months of fighting and bombing. This forced 1.9 million Palestinians, more than 85% of the enclave's population, to flee their homes. The liquidation of a number of high-ranking Hamas functionaries, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has brought the end of the war closer, but only a complete cleansing will end it.
The problem is that a number of official armies of countries in the region, semi-legal paramilitary groups and outright terrorist associations (which are Iran’s proxy armies) could act against Israel — this will lead to a local conflict, into which an increasing number of countries will be drawn in on both sides every day .