10 Key Events that Defined 2016

10 Key Events that Defined 2016

Events that Defined 2016 – Midway into 2016, reports began to emerge that the year was going to be one of the worst. However was this justifiable? Considering the continued flooding of immigrants into Europe, and the deepening of Syrian conflict, maybe it was. But you cannot jump into such conclusions before you go through 1979, 1974 and 1968.

It is true that 2016 had a significant impact on world events. All the way from North Korea launching rocket missile into space; Zika outbreak; Brexit vote and the surprise victory by President-elect Donald Trump, the past year was an interesting one.

Events that Defined 2016
Image Source Pixabay

Most of the top stories in 2016 will definitely shape 2017 and you may want to follow closely.

Brexit Vote – Events that Defined 2016

Treat poll results with a grain of salt. That’s one of the lessons of Britain’s 23rd June referendum on leaving the EU.

The immediate reaction to the Leave Camp victory was a resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron as he saw himself “Unfit to steer the ship in its new direction.” His political career was ended by the same polls that he himself had called.

The “leave” campaign took an early lead – to the surprise of many – hours after the closure of the polls, and went on to lead till the final results.

Weeks before the vote, the polls had been tight but giving an edge to the “remain” campaign. Close to 10 per cent of the voters had remained undecided just before the Thursday polls.

But with a victory of 52 to 48 per cent, The UK was set on a path to free itself from the EU. Among the factors that led to the victory was the need by Britons to take control of their country. Migration has remained the concern of many, with the EU failing to have effective control measures.

A twist happened in the post-Brexit era when Theresa May, a member of the Remain Camp, took over the PM position. On the very day she rose to power, she was clear that “Brexit means Brexit.”

However, saying that is much easier than done. The government is battling with court cases that prevent the PM from directly invoking Article 50. The MPs want to have a say in the matter, something that may cause delays.

If Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked, the formal withdrawal process will begin. Miss May has the intention of doing so in March. However, Dutch, French, and German governments all stand for election in 2017. They are yet to settle on what to offer Britain on the negotiation table – probably waiting for a message from their voters. Thus, the Brexit saga is a topic that will dominate 2017. Remember there is also the possibility of departing from the UK.

Donald Trump Wins United States Presidential Elections

He who laughs last laughs the loudest. Donald Trump did! Working hard to overcome media biasness and the “elite politicians,” the Republican nominee rose against all the barriers, right from the primaries to the national elections.


The two top candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were involved in a bitter and at time bizarre campaign as both sought to replace Barack Obama in the White House. The elections weren’t any easy-going as Clinton’s emails and Trump’s sexual assault took a center stage. There was also the fear of election interference by foreign and domestic actors as both camps launched insults on each other.

At the time of voting, Hillary Clinton had a roughly 3-point lead as shown by the polls. But social media comments indicated otherwise. Eventually, it turned out the polls were wrong – just as they were in the Brexit referendum. Donald Trump Triumphed over Clinton with the promise of change.

He is set to become the 45th president of the United States by winning over 270 electoral votes required to be crowned the President. In total, the results are as follows:





(270 electoral votes to win)

Hillary Clinton won the popular votes by 48.2% against Donald Trump’s 46.1%.

But a group of computer scientists, cybersecurity experts, and election monitors raised concerns about the integrity of the election results. They urged the campaign staff of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who had conceded the campaign on November 9, to petition three vital states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Clinton declined to do so but Jill Stein of Green Party spearheaded the recount on 23rd November. These efforts were supported by the Clinton campaign. The recount eventually stemmed Trump’s victory and those against him turned to the Electoral College.

They hoped the Electors would not approve the results and instead become rogue voters. But yet again, like he has done in the past, Trump emerged victoriously. He is now set to be inaugurated on 20th January 2017.

Mr.Trump comes to power at a time when President Barack is entangled into conflicts with Russia. The President has sent home 35 Russian diplomats and still promises more actions in the midst of election meddling allegations. Mr. Trump is also under constant scrutiny due to his tweets that some consider careless.

Alleged Russia Interference with U.S. Presidential Elections – Events that Defined 2016


The final days of 2016 have seen an interesting twist in the U.S-Russia relationship as Washington blamed Kremlin for interfering with the U.S. Presidential elections. With that in mind, the Obama administration expelled 35 Russian diplomats and more sanctions to follow.

US intelligence services believe Russia ordered cyber-attacks on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other political organizations, so as to influence the elections in favor of the President-elect.

But even as the Obama government takes such actions, White House failed to make case that Russian hackers tampered with election. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations did not get evidence linking Russia to such breaches. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security jointly published a 13-page report that casts doubt on the allegations the Russian government carried out hacks on the DNC.

North Korea Launches a Long-Range Rocket into Space

What do you do when you try to impose sanctions that don’t seem to shake the nation on the receiving end? That is one of the tough questions the United Nations faced with respect to N. Korea.

Most world heads consider N. Korea leader Kim Jong Un a dictator because no person leaves the country without permission. In addition, the regime attempts to restrict the movement of people within the country. This isolation, as explained by the leader, is intended to keep the country free of external influences.

The year 2016 has seen the 4-star Marshall violate more UN sanctions than he has ever done before. At the start of January, North Korea did its fourth nuclear test since 2006 and this was closely followed by the launching of ballistic missiles. On 9th September, the country conducted another nuclear test, making them five in total. As things stand now, N. Korea has the ability to strike South Korea and Japan. For that reason, Washington and Seoul collectively deployed the THAAD advanced missile defence system in South Korea.

The UN, on the other hand, responded by toughening the sanctions, including a cap on coal exportation. It is also reported that President Obama has informed President-elect Donald Trump to prioritize North Korea.

Do the North Koreans hate Kim Jong Un? That’s an interesting question that most experts have attempted to answer all coming up with mixed conclusions. When KJI (father to KJU) was ill and an air of uncertainty was over Pyongyang, many feared about the future. Now they are doing better. There is more food, more construction, and a more relaxed country. They attribute this to Marshal Kim Jong-un, so in a sense, they are telling you what they think.

Brazil and South Korea Impeach Their Presidents – Events that Defined 2016

Want to know how to hold on to power as a democratic president? Well, keep off scandals.


But it seems Dilma Rouseff (Brazilian President) and Park Geun-hye (South Korean President) forgot that tip. As Brazil geared for the Olympic Games, Rouseff might have had the impression that 2016 would project her political career a notch higher. However, that wasn’t the outcome. A dragging economy and several scandals from a state oil company she once led was her downfall. Her approval rating declined to 13 per cent after being directly implicated in the Petrobras scandal. Her political enemies saw an opportunity and effectively used it. They accused her of cooking books in 2014 to give a wrong impression of Brazil’s fiscal deficit and hence get reelected. She was sent parking in August by the Brazilian Congress.


Park of South Korea similarly had a rough year. Reports emerged that her long-term friend had used the friendship to influence most government decisions. Without haste, thousands of South Koreans hit the road to call for her impeachment. The National Assembly did not take long to give the people their wishes. She is now under suspension from the presidency while this decision is still under review by the Constitutional Court.

Both Brazil and South Korea hold a bigger share of world economies. Thus, the impeachment of their leaders quickly gained the attention of the world. How fast will they respond to their political upheavals?

Rodrigo Duterte Becomes President of the Philippines

In late June 2016, Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippines’ 16th president. Almost immediately, the traditional “honeymoon” stage for the tough-talking, anti-crime crusader took effect.

Having won 39 per cent of the total votes, Duterte came into power with promises of numerous changes. He expressed intentions to go after the alleged criminals and drug dealers – something he already has managed.


His inauguration speech highlighted the need to fight corruption, mistrust in the government, drugs as well as criminality (though he is under investigation by the human rights groups).

And true to his words, the President has pulled all the strings to achieve this. But his methods of operations have not been met with opposition, something he is very well aware of.

“I know that there are those who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality… In response, let me say this: I have seen how corruption bled the government of funds. I have seen how illegal drugs destroy individuals and ruin families’ relationships.”

Seldom does foreign policy influence elections but elections surely impact foreign policy. The Philippines President ascend to power has seen him get entangled with Washington from time to time. He at one time warned that the Philippines may fully distance from the US, calling for the withdrawal of the U.S. troops. He has also been involved in controversial statements, one time calling Obama a “son of a whore.”

His anti-American stand has hugely benefited China (a country disliked by most Filipinos). Though China seems to have an advantage, Duterte is yet to choose which country to sideline. He is probably weighing out the goodies that come from the two powers.

His continued campaign against drug traffickers has not hurt his popularity at home. But it’s clear that his relations with the US are continuing to sink as each day passes. So far, the internationally condemned campaign has led to the death of 4,000 people.

The outbreak of Zika virus

2016 saw an escalation in the number of Zika cases, prompting the WHO to declare it a global health emergency.  The infection has been associated with microcephaly – babies born with heads smaller than normal.

Zika is a mosquito-borne virus which one can contract through bites from an infected mosquito, sex as well as a blood transfusion. It is also transmissible from the expectant mother to the unborn child. It first broke out in Brazil and fears were bound that it may interfere with the Summer Olympics.

Late this year, the World Health Organization declared it no longer a global health emergency. Several health experts voiced their concerns but the UN health agency explained it still prioritizes the search for a cure. The vaccine or drug is yet to be found. Patients are therefore encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and get sufficient rest.

Flight MH17 Was Shot Down By Missile Moved From Russia – Events that Defined 2016

Having crushed in July 2014, speculation has been surrounding the disappearance of Flight MH17. The crash of MH17 led to the death of 298 people onboard and the families finally got answers to what actually happened.

The Dutch-led international investigators announced that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a Russian Buk missile that had been transferred into rebel-held eastern Ukraine.

But Russia quickly denied that it sent military equipment across the border into Ukraine. Moscow had earlier on suggested the possibility of MH17 being shot by another plane.

But the investigators refused to accept this possibility, referencing the surface-to-air missile as the main cause. Data provided by the US, Russia and Ukraine do not indicate the presence of any nearby plane as MH17 crashed.

Aleppo has Fallen


Promising events can turn out to be tragic, just like it happened in Syria. In March 2011, Syrians began a revolt against Bashar al-Assad with the prospect of getting him off the power.

The rebel groups took control of a huge chunk of locations previously held by his Alawite-dominated government. But to stem out the losses, Assad ordered the use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.

Russia then got directly involved in September 2015, making the Syrian forces go into the offensive. They collectively began efforts to recapture eastern Aleppo – a city that was once the darling of many Syrians.

Gut-wrenching photos and videos emerged but Russia and Syria vehemently declined the use of excessive force. As that happened, neither the UN, U.S. or any other nation took any action. Human rights groups have already labelled this the worst humanitarian catastrophe in a generation even as residents and remaining rebels evacuate the city – courtesy of a recent deal.

Aleppo has fallen but the Syrian war is still in progress. The rebels are still in charge of much of the eastern part of Syria. Is 2017 the year that will put a stop to a war which has killed more than half-million people and left 11 million homeless?

Russian Ambassador to Turkey, is assassinated in Ankara

Arguably, the month of December has been the most nervous and harmful for the Russia-Turkey relation. It is just a year ago when the Turks shot down Russian military jet. This prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to act swiftly. He signed a document that restricted the importation of certain types of products from Turkey. On top of that, Russia suspended the visa-free travel regime for Turkish citizens. The Russian employers were also blocked from hiring Turkish nationals with charter flights being banned.

But the two heads of state quickly moved past that to establish a good relationship. As things seemed to be heading in the right direction, the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey happened in Ankara.

However, Russia didn’t let that put a dent in their newly found cooperation. Putin commented that the assassination was an attempt at “interrupting normalization of Russian-Turkish relations and the process of peacebuilding in Syria which action has been promoted by Turkey, Iran and Russia.”

Therefore while we can be in no doubt 2016 was a difficult year, Brexit, Trump and a new co-operation with Russia lay the groundwork for a fantastic 2017. People and democracy have prevailed, and it’s now up to all of us to maintain the momentum back towards common sense.

Main Image Source : Pixabay

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