Timeline: Great Power Competition in the 21st Century

Note:  The aim of the below timeline is to show, day by day, the crucial geopolitical events that are shaping the 21st Century. We have chosen to include the movements of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ ‘Doomsday Clock’ in the context of the impact these events have had on world peace and security. 

 

March 26 2000: After being appointed caretaker president on December 31 1999, former KGB spy Vladimir Putin is elected Russia’s second democratically-elected president with 53% of the vote. He is inaugurated on May 7, 2000.

October 30 2000: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announces he will now sell oil for Euros instead of US Dollars. A UN panel approves Iraq’s decision after Baghdad moved the start date back a week. 

November 2000: Republican candidate George W Bush Bush wins the US presidential election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Democrat challenger Al Gore’s 266. This followed a recount in Florida, which showed Bush winning by a margin of 537 votes.

June 15 2001: President Bush arrives in Poland and calls for NATO’s eastward expansion so that the alliance includes countries like Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (the latter three are along Russia’s western border and mere kilometers away from Moscow). Russia slams the move, saying it breaks a solemn promise that Bush’s father, George Bush Sr gave to former Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev in June 1990.

June 15 2001: The formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) – a Eurasian political, economic, and security alliance – is announced in China. Full member states are China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Observer states include Iran, Turkey and Belarus.

EVENT 1 – September 11 2001: Terrorists hijack civilian airplanes and fly them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashes into a field in Pennsylvania. President George W Bush declares a “Global War on Terror”. The blame soon falls on Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin-Laden but he denies responsibility for the attacks.

December 13 2001: President Bush announces the US will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that was signed between the United States and Russia in 1972. Bush argued that the Treaty hindered the US Government’s ability to develop ways to protect its people from future terrorist or rogue-state missile attacks.

EVENT 2 – October 7 2001: A US-led NATO coalition invades Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom begins against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban (which Bush blamed for the 9/11 attacks) and defines US military actions in Eurasia for the next 13 years. Troops set up bases in surrounding countries, some of which are close to Russia’s southern borders.

January 1 2002: More than 290 Europeans in 12 countries welcome the minting of the ‘Euro’, a new currency uniting the continent under a common financial scheme.

January 21 2002: US President George W Bush declares Iraq, Iran and North Korea the “Axis of Evil”, saying they support terrorism. He threatens to attack these countries, prompting all three to go on a heightened state of alert and re-evaluate their national security architecture and objectives.

January 24 2002: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 7 minutes to midnight.

March 15 2003: Hu Jintao replaces Jiang Zemin as China’s Paramount Leader.

EVENT 3 – March 20 2003: The US, Britain, Australia and Poland invade Iraq, claiming that the country’s president Saddam Hussein was building Weapons of Mass Destruction. While Operation Iraqi Freedom aimed to rid the Middle East of a brutal dictator, the removal of Saddam had the unintended consequence of bringing Iraq and Iran closer together politically and militarily, as the Shia forces – previously persecuted under Saddam – united against the US occupation.

May 3 2003: President Bush declares major combat operations in Iraq over. The US sets out to establish a new political and economic road map for Iraq. The country will now trade oil in US Dollars and not Euros as was announced by Saddam in 2000. Critics question the Bush Administration’s true motives for invading Iraq.

January 2004: A bloody insurgency begins to target US and multinational forces in Iraq. Powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr commences independent military actions to fight the occupying forces. The decision gets tacit backing from regional Shia powerhouse Iran. Meanwhile, the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shia Muslims, Ayatollah Sistani (an Iranian), helps to formulate Iraq’s new political road map.

February 2004: ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh – emerges from the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a local offshoot of al Qaeda founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 2004. It becomes the most ruthless militia group opposing the US occupation in Iraq. 

March 2004: A pan-African Parliament involving 53 nations discuss plans for the African Economic Community. The plans include a single gold currency to replace the US Dollar and other denominations by the year 2023. African oil-producing nations plan to abandon the “petrodollar” and instead demand gold payment for oil and gas trade.

January 24 2005: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 5 minutes to midnight.

August 3 2005: Radical Iranian presidential candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is sworn into office after winning the June 15 election. He ramps up the country’s nuclear program and sends tensions between Iran and the US and Israel soaring. Ahmadinejad later signs a military pact with Syria, pledging to come to the country’s aid if it is attacked by outside forces.

March 10 2006: Powerful Shia militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr begins working with Syria and Hezbollah, who train al-Sadr’s “Mahdi Army” to fight multinational forces. 

EVENT 4 – July 12 2006: Hezbollah fighters stage an ambush inside Israel which leaves three IDF soldiers dead. Two Israeli soldiers were then abducted and taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Israel invades Southern Lebanon and a war ensues. In total, 121 Israeli soldiers, 46 Israeli civilians, 46 Lebanese soldiers, 250 Hezbollah fighters and 1,191 Lebanese civilians were killed.

August 14 2006: A UN ceasefire is accepted by Israel, Lebanon and Hezbollah, ending the Second Israel-Lebanon War.

EVENT 5 – October 9 2006: North Korea tests its first nuclear bomb. This sends political shockwaves throughout the world. The UN imposes tough sanctions on North Korea, escalating tensions further.

December 30 2006: Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is hanged in Kadhimiya, Baghdad, after being convicted of crimes against humanity by the Iraqi Special Tribunal for the murder of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites in the town of Dujail in 1982.

January 10 2007: The growing insurgency in Iraq prompts US President George W Bush to announce the “surge” strategy, placing 20,000 more US troops into the country (mainly Baghdad) and prolonging the US occupation.

September 11 2007: US President George W Bush announces the phased withdrawal of American troops from Iraq after the failure of the troop surge strategy.

December 27 2007: Benazir Bhutto, the 11th and 13th Prime Minister of Pakistan, is assassinated at a political rally held in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat National Bagh. Bhutto had been campaigning to take office for the third time. 

February 12 2008: Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s second most powerful leader, was killed by a car bomb blast around in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, Syria. The assassination was the result of a joint operation involving the United States, Israel and an unnamed Arab state.

March 2 2008: Dmitry Medvedev takes Putin’s place as head of the United Russia Party as Russia’s Constitution bars President Putin from seeking a third term. On March 2, Russians elect Medvedev as their new president with 71.2% of the total vote. Vladimir Putin takes up the position of Prime Minister. 

EVENT 6 – August 7 2008: Russia invades Georgia. The Russian president Dmitry Medvedev says his country was responding to Georgian shelling of an ethnic Russian village in South Ossetia. 

August 12 2008: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces major combat operations in Georgia over. 

September 11 2008: Russia recognises the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. The Georgian government severs diplomatic relations with Russia.

November 4 2008: Barack Obama becomes the first African-American President after defeating GOP contender John McCain in the 2008 US Presidential election. Obama later pledges to redirect 60% of the US Navy to the Pacific as part of his administration’s “pivot” strategy to counter China and North Korea.

February 6 2009: Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia sign a deal with Moscow to build two military bases that will host Russian forces.

May 13 2009: The deadline for nations to make seabed hydrocarbon claims under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea expires. This is suspected to have caused ancient island claims to surface and become inflamed. 

May 25 2009: North Korea conducts its second nuclear test. More sanctions go into effect against North Korea, bringing warnings from Pyongyang that it will continue tests and respond harshly if it is backed into a corner.

June 5 2009: Speaking at the African Union Summit 2009, Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi (African Union 2009 Chair) refers to the 2004 plan by the pan-African parliament announces plan to unify the sovereign States of Africa with one gold-backed currency to replace the US Dollar, including all transactions for oil and gas trade.

June 2009: Large-scale protests rock Iran (June 13 2009 – February 11 2010) after anti-Western president Ahmadinejad rigs the election and wins a second term. The ‘Green Movement’, headed by opposition candidates Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karrobi, brings hundreds of thousands of protesters on to the streets of Iran. The violence that follows sees 72 people killed and more than 2,000 arrested.

January 24 2010: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 6 minutes to midnight.

March 26 2010: A Pohang-class corvette of the Republic of Korea Navy, carrying 104 personnel, sinks off the country’s west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen. No one claims responsibility but an analysis later finds the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo. South Korea does not retaliate but promises a military response if it is attacked again.

EVENT 7 – November 23 2010: North Korea fires 170 artillery shells at the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing 2 soldiers, 2 civilians and damaging a K-9 Howitzer belonging to the South Korean Army. 

EVENT 8 – December 2010: A series of massive protests erupt across North Africa and the Middle East. This leads to widespread social upheaval in Bahrain, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The event becomes known as The Arab Spring.

EVENT 9 – February 17 2011: Libyan president, Muammar Gaddafi, faces a full-blown revolution. Former Libyan Army General Khalifa Haftar soon returns to Libya from self-imposed exile in the US to become a key commander of NATO-backed rebels fighting Gaddafi’s forces. 

April 27 2011: Turkey announces an ambitious plan to build a canal through Istanbul to bypass the Bosporus Strait. The project’s aim is to ease shipping traffic and the risk of accidents in the Bosporus, which runs through the middle of Turkey’s biggest city. 

May 2 2011: US forces raid a compound in Pakistan, killing Osama bin-Laden, who was blamed for orchestrating the September 11 2001 attacks.

September 24 2011: At the United Russia congress in Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev proposes that his predecessor, Vladimir Putin, stand for the presidency in 2012. Putin announces his presidential bid.

October 20 2011: The civil war in Libya peaks with the capture and murder of Libyan president Gaddafi. The new (Pro-NATO) interim government quickly banishes the Gaddafi’s Pan-African currency initiative and establishes new Central Banks. In the coming weeks, the country’s civil war resumes as powerful militias fight for supremacy.

October 21 2011: President Obama announces that the withdrawal of US military forces from Iraq (which began in December 2007) has been completed, bringing an end to the Iraq War.

January 24 2012: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 5 minutes to midnight.

March 4 2012: Russia’s 2012 presidential election was the first after the constitutional amendments in 2008. In this election, the President was elected for the first time for six years, not four as before. Vladimir Putin wins with 53.6% of the vote.

September 25 2012: China commissions its first aircraft carrier, the Lionang. This is a major step for China, which had stated its goal of becoming a global naval power, and Superpower. The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) says the Lionang is the first of many carriers to come.

February 12 2013: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test (16kt), three times larger than its previous test.

March 14 2013: Xi Xinping becomes China’s new Paramount Leader. Xinping would eventually come to preside over six powerful executive positions in the Communist Party.

June 15 2013: Iran’s moderate presidential candidate Hassan Rouhani wins the national election with 18,613,329 votes, while his main rival Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf secured 6,077,292 votes. He later goes on to win the next presidential election in 2017 with 23,636,652 votes.

EVENT 10 – October 2013: China’s President Xi Xinping announces the $8 trillion Belt and Road Initiative during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia. The initiative is to include infrastructure development and investments in 152 countries and international organisations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas

EVENT 11 – February 2014: A so-called “parliamentary coup” in Ukraine ousts Pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych. Russia responds by invading Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. On March 16, Russia absorbs Crimea into the Russian Federation after a referendum in which 95.5% of Cimeans voted in favour of the proposition.

February 2014: Libya’s General Haftar, now backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and France, launches Operation Dignity, designed to oust Al-Qaeda and other radical groups out of Benzhazi and the east of Libya.

March 2014: ISIS (Daesh) captures large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq between March and September.

May 2014: The “Libyan National Army” renegade General Khalifa Haftar launches military assault including airstrikes against militant Islamist groups in Benghazi; tries to seize parliament building, accusing Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg of being in thrall to Islamist groups. 

September 10 2014: US President Barack Obama authorises US airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. A coalition of Gulf States and Western allies form to fight the group. 

EVENT 12 – January 1 2015: The Eurasian Economic Union, led by Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz­stan, Belarus and Armenia, is launched, creating an integrated single market of 180 million people and a gross domestic product of over $5 trillion.

January 24 2015: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 3 minutes to midnight.

February 2015: China ramps up operations in the South China Sea, claiming several islands and pumping sand into shallow waters to build its own heavily militarized island chains.

March 2 2015: After gaining ground in the Libyan Civil War, General Haftar attempts to bring the entire country under his rule. He aligns with the Tobruk government and becomes the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA).

July 14 2015: The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is signed between Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany), together with the European Union. Iran’s moderate president Hassan Rouhani prasies the deal as a positive step forward for peace and security in the region.

EVENT 13 – September 1 2015: Russia deploys a large expeditionary force to Syria to help president Bashar al-Assad turn the tide of the battle. Russian air and naval strikes, as well as ground offensives, begin, targeting ISIS and other militias targeting Assad.  

December 15 2015: Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Mohammed bin-Salman announces the creation of a 34-nation “Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition”. The initiative eventually grows to become a 41-nation alliance.

January 6, 2016: North Korea conducts its first hydrogen bomb test, alarming the world. The rapid development of North Korea’s nuclear program leads many analysts to conclude that UN sanctions are doing nothing to prevent the North Koreans from pursuing even more sophisticated weaponry.

February 6 2016: Iran announces it will now only accept Euro payment for new and outstanding oil sales, saying it will no longer accept US Dollars for future oil transactions.

July 2016: China warns that it is prepared to declare an Air-Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the South China Sea pending US moves. This would deny US military aircraft and ships access to the area, allowing China to effectively control the region.

July 25 2016: A coup attempt targets President Erdogan in Turkey but fails. Erdogan blames the US for the coup and begins his country’s drift closer to Russia’s orbit.

September 9, 2016: North Korea conducts its fifth underground nuclear test (25kt). This time, North Korea said it achieved the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile capable of striking targets overseas – a claim earlier confirmed by South Korea.

October 7 2016: Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister says the government is considering plans to reopen Soviet-era military bases in Cuba and Vietnam. The move follows the Russian Parliament’s approval of a longer-term presence at the Latakia airbase in Syria.

EVENT 14 – November 9 2016: Donald Trump, a former real estate tycoon, TV celebrity and right-wing nationalist, is elected US President. He promises an “America first” platform and takes a hard line approach to domestic and foreign affairs.  

January 24 2017: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 2 and a half minutes to midnight.

April 7 2017: The US launches 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea into Syria, aimed at Shayrat Airbase after an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Khan Shaykhun (Idlib Governorate) on April 4.

EVENT 15 – July 4 2017: North Korea successfully conducts its first ICBM test. The Hwasong-14 reached more than 2,500 km into space and travelled 8,000km. Analysts say this provided North Korea with the ability to strike targets on the US mainland with nuclear weapons. On July 28 and November 28 respectively, North Korea successfully tested two more ICBMs.

September 3 2017: North Korea conducts a sixth underground nuclear test (280kt). The North Koreans say their second hydrogen bomb test had been conducted.   

December 9 2017: ISIS had lost 95% of its territory, including its two biggest properties, Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, its nominal capital. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declares victory over the Islamic State in Iraq on December 9, 2017.

December 29 2017: Turkey and Russia finalize a contract for the acquisition and deployment of the Russian S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system on Turkish soil despite strong objections from the US and NATO.

January 24 2018: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to midnight.

February 9 2018: China launches the Shangai Futures Exchange, allowing oil to be traded in Yuan instead of US Dollars.

EVENT 16 – March 11 2018:  China’s leader Xi Xinping is given the power to remain president for life after the National Peoples Congress passes the constitutional changes. This makes Xi the most powerful leader of China since Mao Zedong.

April 7 2018: An alleged chemical warfare attack is carried out in the Syrian city of Douma. Medics and witnesses reported that it caused the deaths of between 40 and 50 people. On April 14, the US-led coalition in Syria conduct strikes against forces controlled by Bashar al-Assad. Experts later question the validity of the initial reports and whether a chemical weapons attack had indeed taken place.

April 23 2018: Iran announces it will start reporting foreign currency amounts in euros rather than dollars. The move follows a decision in March that that purchase orders by merchants based on US currency would no longer be allowed to go through import procedures.

May 8 2018: President Trump scraps the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the “Iran nuclear deal”. Trump argues that the JCPOA was a “one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.” Some critics argue the move is a mistake and will harm diplomacy between the two countries, as well as accelerate Iran’s move towards a nuclear weapon.

January 7 2019: Russia, China and the EU continue to edge away from the Petrodollar. In December 2018 Russian President Putin said: “We have approved large-scale programs for the formation of common markets for gas, oil and petroleum products,” referring to the Eurasian Economic Union’s plan to use the Russian currency, the ruble, for payments among the member states.

April 2 2019: President Trump announces that the US has formally withdrawn from the decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty,  signed in 1987. The treaty had banned ground-launched medium-range missiles with a range of 310 to 3,400 miles.

April 4 2019: The Western Libya Offensive begins. General Haftar orders the LNA to march on Tripoli, the capital of the internationally recognised government of Libya.

June 2019: Following huge military setbacks to the Tripoli campaign, General Haftar orders the LNA to target Turkish ships and companies, ban flights and arrest Turkish nationals in the country.

July 1 2019: Six Turkish civilians are kidnapped on a ship in Libya by the LNA. The Turkish foreign ministry demands that its citizens be released immediately or else the LNA will become “legitimate targets” for the Turkish military.

July 13 2019: Turkey receives first shipments of Russian S-400 missiles despite strong objections from the US and NATO. A second batch of the missiles is received in August.

October 2 2019: President Putin says he supports a plan by Russia’s central bank to De-Dollarize the economy

October 3 2019: North Korea tests its first Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) in the waters off Wonsan. The Pukguksong-3, flew about 450 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of 910 kilometers, making it an intermediate-range ballistic missile.

EVENT 17 – October 9 2019: Turkey invades Syria. The attack from the north of the country is aimed at removing Kurdish militias from the region. The spectacular move catches the world off-guard. This makes Turkey the fourth foreign powerbroker in Syria in addition to the US, Russia and Iran.

October 21 2019: President Trump pulls US forces from Syria, surprising America’s regional allies (and the Pentagon). The Kurds renounce their relationship with the US and side with Assad while Russian troops move into bases previously occupied by the US.

October 26 2019: President Trump announces that the US has killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Idlib, Syria.

December 19 2019: Donald Trump becomes the third US President in history to be impeached by Congress. As the Democratic Party moves to oust Trump from office ahead of the crucial 2020 election, the administration becomes increasingly erratic unpredictable in its actions abroad, notably in Iraq, Syria and Somalia.

December 27 2019: China’s second aircraft carrier, the Shandong, enters service. The Chinese Navy (PLAN) announces that two more aircraft carriers are currently being constructed.

EVENT 18 – December 27 2019: Russia becomes the first country in the world to deploy hypersonic missiles. Russian President Vladimir Putin says the new Avangard missile can travel 27 times the speed of sound and is impossible to intercept. 

EVENT 19 – December 31 2019: An outbreak of pneumonia is detected in the city of Wuhan, China. 

EVENT 20 – January 1 2020: North Korea announces that nuclear and ICBM tests will resume, adding that the world will also soon witness “a new strategic weapon”. This rhetoric is seen as a critical turning point as the 2017-2019 US-North Korea talks expire.

EVENT 21 – January 2 2020: IRGC General Soleimani, Iran’s most influential and powerful military leader, is killed in a US airstrike. Iranian officials, who vow a “harsh response” against the US.

EVENT 22 – January 5 2020: Iraq’s parliament passes a resolution that ends the Security Agreement with the US and asks all US troops to leave the country, practically evicting them from all bases they set up after the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

EVENT 23 – January 6 2020: Turkey deploys troops to Libya. The US, Greece, Israel Cyprus and Egypt warn Turkey to cease military intervention in Libya. 

January 6, 2020: Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali warns US troops that if they do not honour the government’s instruction to leave Iraq, they will be considered “an occupying force”.

January 7 2020: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper rejects Iraq’s demand for American forces to leave, declaring the US military are there to stay.

EVENT 24 – January 7 2020: The Director-General of the WHO declares the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which originated in Wuhan, China, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following the second meeting of the Emergency Committee.

EVENT 25 – January 8 2020: Several US airbases in Iraq come under sustained attack by land-based ballistic missiles fired from Iran. Iranian state media says the attack was in response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. US doesn’t retaliate.

January 11 2020: Iraqi lawmakers confirm the country’s government is moving forward with negotiations with Moscow to buy Russian S-400 air-defense missiles. The move was in response to Trump rejecting Iraq’s calls for US troops to leave the country, as well as concerns the US may pull back its support for Baghdad.

January 11 2020: Turkish President Erdogan says his country’s warships will soon be able to use a planned multi-billion-dollar canal bisecting Istanbul instead of having to transit through the narrow Bosporus Strait. There are fears the move could violate the 1936 Montreux Convention, which limits deployments in the Black Sea to 21 days for navies not belonging to Black Sea states.

January 12 2020: Pro-independence candidate Tsai Ing-wen wins Taiwan’s presidential election in a landslide. Chinese President Xi Xinping had previously warned Taiwan of war if it made further moves towards independence.

EVENT 26: January 15 2020: The entire Russian government resigns after Putin proposes the biggest changes to the country’s constitution since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev steps down as PM. Putin nominates Mikhail Mishustin, head of the Federal Tax Service, to replace Medvedev as Russia’s second most powerful man.

January 23 2020: The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists move the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight.

January 24 2020: Hundreds of thousands of protesters march through Baghdad calling for US troops to leave Iraq. The protests were in response to a call from powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who called for a “Million Man March” against foreign occupation in Iraq.

January 28 2020: A US military aircraft carrying Michael D’ Andrea, the head of CIA intelligence operations against Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, is shot down over Taliban-controlled territory in central Afghanistan. D’Andrea had been instrumental in the assassination of Iranian Quds force commander General Qassem Soleimani on January 2.

January 28 2020: A new Middle East peace plan is unveiled by Donald Trump at a White House press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The ‘Deal of the Century’ envisions an independent, sovereign State of Palestine with a capital on the outskirts of East Jerusalem. Israel gets the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements.

January 29 2020: Crematorium workers in Hubei province say they have been cremating 112-220 bodies every day. A separate report put the total number of dead from 2019-nCoV at more than 50,000 and the number of infected at 1.5 million. Chinese authorities lock down major cities, ban funerals and jail people for 7 years if they share news about the virus.

EVENT 27 – January 31 2020: Britain formally leaves the European Union three years after the Brexit referendum was held on June 23 2016. The UK’s 47-year membership ended at 11pm on Friday.  27 countries remain in the European Union.

February 1 2020: The Palestinian Authority reacts to Trump’s Middle East peace plan by cutting all ties with Israel and the US. In the following hours, the Arab League unanimously rejects the peace plan, saying it is heavily biased towards Israel. 

February 2 2020: Iraq names Tawfik Allawi as its new Prime Minister. In an address to the nation, he says “I am an employee only to the Iraqi people”, hinting that his government will be fiercely independent.

February 3 2020: Turkey and Syria exchange heavy fire in the rebel-held stronghold of Idlib. Four Turkish soldiers and 35 Syrian soldiers are killed in the brief battle. Syria puts its armed forces on alert and Moscow makes contact with Ankara to de-escalate the flare-up. Later that day, a massive convoy of 200 trucks and military vehicles cross the border from Turkey into northern Syria.

February 6 2020: The 2019-nCoV outbreak threatens to derail the global economy as Chinese companies close and foreign businesses cease operations on the mainland. The Baltic Dry Index plunges to record lows. The United States’ Federal Reserve labels coronavirus as a risk to the outlook of the country’s economy.

February 6 2020: The US Air Force (USAF) tests a Minuteman III ICBM from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch of the missile is part of the USAF’s aim to upgrade the country’s ageing nuclear arsenal.

February 7 2020: Iraqi army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Othman Al-Ghanimi and Russian Ambassador Maksim Maksimov meet in Baghdad to discuss boosting military ties between their two countries. The meeting follows calls by some Iraqi leaders to overhaul the existing strategic set-up between Iraq and the US-led coalition.

February 8 2020: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte orders the termination of the 1999 Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States after the US government cancelled a tourist visa issued to Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, the former national police chief and close political ally of Duterte. 

February 9 2020: Satellite photos suggest that China is building a strategic air force base in Cambodia, giving the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and navy (PLAN) easy access to waters contested by Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia – and the strategically vital narrow shipping lane of Malacca Strait.

February 10 2020: Chinese officials confirm that the 2019-nCoV virus is airborne. Meanwhile, the Chinese Communist Party releases the latest “official” number of infected and dead, showing 40,151 confirmed cases and 906 deceased respectively (surpassing the SARS virus of 2003-04, which killed 774 and infected 8,098). 

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