A look back at some of the major events that marked 2018
The world in 2018
PARIS, France – From a spy drama that poisoned ties between Russia and the West to major US turnarounds under President Donald Trump, here are some of the major events that marked 2018.
Russian spy poisoning saga
On March 4, Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter are discovered unconscious and poisoned on a bench in Salisbury, England.
London points the finger at Moscow and in September issues arrest warrants for two Russian operatives for attempting to kill the Skripals. Moscow rejects all charges.
Angry exchanges between the two capitals bring in other Western nations behind London. Eventually dozens of Western and Russian diplomats are expelled in tit-for-tat reprisals, and new sanctions are brought against Russia.
Syria regime victories
On April 14, the Syrian army declares that all anti-regime forces have been forced out of the Eastern Ghouta area adjoining Damascus after a blistering two-month offensive that leaves more than 1,700 people dead.
It is a major victory in the government's effort to reassert control after the 2011 uprising that pulled the entire country into a devastating conflict.
The same day the United States, Britain and France carry out pre-dawn strikes against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in response to a suspected chemical attack on the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma that killed scores of civilians. The regime denies the allegations.
Backed by Russia's military might, Assad's forces go on to notch up a series of victories against rebels and insurgents, to be back in countrol of two-thirds of the ruined and divided country.
Trump quits Iran nuclear deal
On May 8, President Donald Trump pulls the United States out of the hard-won 2015 accord that limits Iran's nuclear weapons programme in exchange for an easing of sanctions against the Islamic republic.
The "one-sided deal" does not go far enough in preventing Iran from creating a nuclear bomb, Trump says, among other criticisms.
The remaining parties to the accord – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – insist Iran has abided by its commitments and vow to keep the deal intact.
US moves embassy to Jerusalem
Clashes erupt on the border with Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza: after the bloodiest day in the dragging conflict in years, around 60 Palestinians are dead, killed by Israeli gunfire.
Populists take charge in Italy
New Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigrant and anti-Islam League, introduces a hardline policy that sees Italy largely closing its borders to migrants.
Anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe had already been boosted in April when Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lead his party to a crushing victory at legislative elections.
Trump, Kim meet-up
They sign an agreement which reaffirms Pyongyang's commitment to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".
Yemen war reaches aid port
On June 13, the war in Yemen steps up a notch when pro-government forces, supported by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, launch an assault to wrest back control of the vital aid port of Hodeida from Huthi rebels, backed by Iran.
The war, which started in 2014, has already killed about 10,000 people with 20 million at risk of starvation, according aid agencies.
Eritrea, Ethiopia find peace
On July 9, Horn of Africa neighbours Eritrea and Ethiopia announce the end of their two-decade war and embark on a whirlwind peace process that sees embassies and borders reopened, telephone and flight links reestablished, trade ties resumed.
It comes after Ethiopia's new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, announces in June that his government would drop claims to a disputed border territory.
The accord leads Somalia and Eritrea to also re-establish diplomatic links on July 30, after a long period of hostility. The United Nations lifts sanctions on Eritrea on November 14.
Thai cave boys
There is a global sigh of relief on July 10 when the last of 12 young football players and their coach are extracted safe and sound from a flooded cave in northern Thailand where they had become trapped 17 days earlier.
The fate of the junior football team had captured world attention, with US and British diving experts joining the rescue effort and former Thai navy diver losing his life.
Heat and fire
The UN's World Meteorological Organization announces in November that 2018 is set to be the fourth hottest year on record.
Saudi journalist murdered
After more than two weeks of denials and contradictory statements, Riyadh admits that he had been killed inside the consulate after a brawl.
It fires various officials and arrests others, also acknowledging the journalist's body had been dismembered.
The murder tarnishes the kingdom's image and notably that of its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, amid questions over whether he had ordered the killing, which the country vehemently denies.
Brazil veers right
During a particularly virulent campaign animated by hate speeches and peppered with outbreaks of violence, Bolsonaro is stabbed in the belly at a rally in September.
Midterm boost US Democrats
Midterm elections on November 6 see the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives while the Republicans bolster their majority in the Senate.
The last days of campaigning are rocked by the worst anti-Semitic attack in US history, when a gunman kills 11 people in a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and the mailing of pipe bombs to high-profile Democrats including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
An approaching caravan of thousands of Central Americans also draws headlines away from the campaign, the migrants arriving at the heavily patrolled Mexico-US border from mid-November.
France's 'yellow vest' uprising
On November 17, protests flare across France in opposition to rising fuel taxes and living costs, later swelling into a broad movement against the policies of the government of President Emmanuel Macron.
The "yellow vest" protests, named after the flourescent safety jackets worn by demonstrators, come to a head with rioting and looting in Paris.
The fall of Carlos Ghosn
He is fired as chairman of Nissan and Mitsubishi and formally charged on December 10, when his detention is extended.
But British Prime Minister Theresa May on December 10 postpones a parliament vote on the deal set for the following day, acknowledging it would be rejected. She survives an internal party no-confidence vote on December 12. – Rappler.com