From Trump to Brexit: 12 events that shook the world in the 2010s

The Jerusalem Post takes a look at the events that impacted the last decade.

U.S. President Trump speaks about U.S. Representative Omar at campaign rally in Greenville (photo credit: JONATHAN DRAKE / REUTERS)
U.S. President Trump speaks about U.S. Representative Omar at campaign rally in Greenville
(photo credit: JONATHAN DRAKE / REUTERS)
The rise of Trump
When Donald Trump walked down the steps of the Trump Tower in Manhattan in June 2015 to announce his run for presidential candiate of the Republican Party, there was unanimity that this was another gimmick of a controversial businessman.
But the joke became a reality when Trump, with blunt language and Twitter as a weapon,, crushed his opponents in the party primaries, and despite his lack of political, diplomatic or military experience, stunned the world when he defeated Hillary Clinton in the November 8, 2016 election, becoming the 45th and oldest president in the history of the United States.
With the slogans "Make America Great Again" and "America First," Trump's presidency is unlike any of his predecessors. In less than three years, he confronted Washington's biggest allies and rubbed shoulders with rivals and enemies, such as Russia's Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un. He started a trade war with China, withdrew from the 2017 Paris Climate Agreement and withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
The president, who promised to fight corruption in Washington has contributed to its spread with associate appointments, fighting the media and turning facts into alternative news, fighting immigration and strengthening extremist and antisemitic factors. He survived an investigation into relations with Russia, despite fierce criticism and indictments against his associates, but one phone call with the President of Ukraine made him the third president in history to be impeached in the House of Representatives. Trump will survive the Senate trial  and run for the November election, with his chances of being elected to another term not at all low. If he does remain in the White House, Trump's legacy is likely to affect the United States and the world well beyond the next decade.
 

#MeToo
Harvey Weinstein was one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a "super producer" behind blockbuster movies and Oscar winners.
However, in October 2017, an earthquake occurred in the movie world when journalistic investigations revealed evidence of women complaining that for years they had fallen victim to harassment, sexual assaults and even rape on Weinstein's part.
Under the #MeToo tag, which became viral on social media, more women have come out to speak about similar experiences in workplaces, on the street, on public transport and almost everywhere. This after effects did not stop in the US and spread around the world, reaching many countries, including Israel.
Weinstein, who was forced to leave his production company and who faces trial in New York next month for rape and sexual assault, was not the only prominent figure to pay for his conduct. Actor and comedian Bill Cosby was sent to prison for sexual assault committed more than a decade ago, Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey was fired from the TV show House of Cards, director Roman Polanski was expelled from the Film Academy, Woody Allen was ostracized, CBS CEO Les Moonves resigned, several opera houses severed ties with Spanish opera singer Placido Domingo, and the list goes on, as more names continue to be added and more stories are revealed.
 

The Arab Spring
Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in December 2010 protesting the confiscation of his produce. The flames not only caused the death of the young vendor, but ignited a blaze that spread rapidly across the Middle East as hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand their basic rights and end the reigns of tyrants.
Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak resigned after mass protests, but the hope of the "Arab Spring" soon turned into a whirpool of blood. Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi was killed in the midst of a civil war, while Yemeni Shi'ite insurgents took control of the capital Sanaa, and the country is still embroiled in a civil war. Syria's Bashar Assad survived the civil war in Syria but it is still raging with more than 300,000 victims, millions of displaced persons and refugees and the involvement of foreign countries. In recent months, the wave of protests has resumed again, with Sudan's Omar al-Bashir and Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika ousted, while huge protests have rocked other Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and Iraq.
The courage of the people of Arab countries has inspired demonstrations for justice and equality in many countries of the world. Some ended with a feeble tune like the social protest in Israel, some have brought social movements to power as in Italy and Spain, and others are still trying to achieve their goals, as is currently the case in Hong Kong, Chile and even Iran.
 

The terror of ISIS
In June 2014, the world was exposed to an unfamiliar name - the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS for short.  The Islamist terror group that had previously split from al-Qaeda within days took over large areas of northern Iraq, massacred religious minorities, including hundreds of members of the Yazidi community, destroyed religious buildings and  some of the treasures of the human cradle of human civilization, such as Palmyra.
Within days, the organization declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in the territories under its control in Syria and Iraq, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, received the title of caliph. The new entity, whose capital was in Syrian city of Raqqa, operated as a state and rolled in billions of dollars each year, in part due to illegal oil exports.
An advanced propaganda mechanism with massive use of social networks has made the terrorist organization attractive to thousands of Muslim volunteers who have flocked to it from around the world, or decided to carry out attacks for the caliphate. In no time, ISIS's terrorist fire quickly spread with attacks in France, Belgium, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Egypt, the Philippines, Iran, Bangladesh and many other countries.
An international coalition against ISIS succeeded in pushing the terrorist organization out of all its outposts in Syria and Iraq, and at the end of October 2019, al-Baghdadi was also killed in a daring American operation in the Idlib Governorate, Syria.
 

The Brexit Crisis
Ahead of the 2015 election, UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated that he will be ready to hold a referendum on Great Britain's withdrawal from the EU. After winning the election by a large majority, he implemented his promise. But his gamble did not go as expected, and after "Leave" supporters led a campaign based on intimidation against immigrants flooding the UK and from the bureaucrats' control of Brussels, the referendum ended with a surprising majority in favor of withdrawal, which was dubbed "Brexit."
In doing so, more than three years of unprecedented political turmoil began that has already removed two Prime Ministers from 10 Downing Street. Cameron first resigned due to the passing of the Brexit referendum, and this year his replacement, Theresa May, also resigned. Her departure came after losing the party's majority previously held in the House of Commons, and then faced repeated rejections of the Brexit agreement in Parliament and a rebellion within her Conservative Party. Brexit, which was due to originally occur at the end of March 2019, was repeatedly postponed in an attempt to find a solution and a deal that would pass Parliament.
Boris Johnson, one of the leaders of the Brexit campaign, is the one who will eventually execute it. After being elected Prime Minister last summer, he drafted an updated agreement, but he also failed in parliament. Only after the opposition succumbed to pressure and agreed to an early election in an attempt to break the deadlock, Johnson led the Conservatives this month to a historic victory that promises Britain's withdrawal from the EU in late January, yet on the way to a future that remains unclear.
 

The Las Vegas massacre
The Las Vegas Strip, one of the most famous and vibrant streets in the United States, became a horror scene on October 1, 2017. For reasons still unclear, Stephen Paddock (64) opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel at a crowd attending a popular country festival held on the other of the street. 58 people were murdered and more than 500 were injured in the attack, until Paddock put an end to his life, seconds before police officers broke into the room.
The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting event in US history, but it was just one of hundreds of similar events each year, about 2,000 over the decade, sometimes occurring day after day, in each of the 50 states - from schools and universities, through office buildings and factories to religious institutions and nursing homes. Some of the killings have entered national and international consciousness, such as the murder of 20 first-grade children at Sandy Hook School in 2012, 17 Parkland High School victims in 2018, and the white  supremacist attack on Hispanic immigrants in El Paso earlier this year.
Despite the repeated shock after each massacre, Washington politicians did nothing to stop the scourge. In the name of the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which enshrines the right to bear arms, the National Rifle Organization's powerful lobby has been exercising it's mechanisms in Congress and has halted any initiative to toughen regulations and laws. Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick until the next shooting.
 

Japan's triple disaster
Quite a few natural disasters have befallen the world in the past decade. Some are the result of the Earth's natural activity, such as eruptions of volcanoes and earthquakes, others are routine natural phenomena that have become more powerful and extreme due to climate change, such as hurricanes in the Atlantic.
On March 11, 2011, at 2:26 p.m., an earthquake struck the coast of northeastern Japan measuring 9.1 on the Richter scale - one of the strongest in history. However, this time the actvity between the tectonic plates was not over, and it sparked a massive tsunami that crashed onto the beach in less than an hour, sweeping everything that was around for miles. More than 18,000 people perished and more than one million buildings were damaged. The economic damage soon came to $200 billion.
The tsunami waves also hit the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing the melting of the reactors and the emission of radioactive material into the air, in the biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. An area within 20 kilometers of the power plant, where nearly half a million people lived, was completely evacuated, and only in 2015 did the authorities gradually began to allow residents to return to their homes. Rehabilitation work in the plant is still ongoing: It will take years to clear a million tons of contaminated water and radioactive materials held on site.
 

Refugee crisis
One photo of a toddler lying lifeless in shorts and a red shirt on the beach of Bodrum, Turkey shocked the world on September 2, 2015. Three-year-old Alan Kurdi's family fled the town of Kobane in northern Syria on their way to Europe, hoping to start a new life. However, the boat in which they sailed from Turkey towards the Greek island of Kos overturned at sea, and the toddler drowned along with his mother and five-year-old brother.
Alan Kurdi has become the biggest symbol of one of the biggest crises in European history. More than a million refugees have made their way toward the countries of Europe, fleeing poverty, persecution and wars. They made the dangerous journey on foot and at sea or smuggled in trucks, and many failed to survive.
After hesitations and stuttering, it was Alan's picture that forced EU leaders to act. Some countries, most notably Germany, opened their doors. Others such as Hungary, which had become a transit point for the refugees, surrounded themselves with fences and refused to participate in the burden, while an agreement with Turkey managed to significantly reduce the number of refugees and ease the pressure.
The wave of the crisis is felt to this day. It sparked deep tensions between the EU member states and encouraged the rise of extremist nationalists who marked the arrivals of refugees and migrants with a fiery hatred reminiscent of dark periods in the continent's history.
 

The war in Ukraine
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to renounce an economic cooperation agreement with the EU in late 2013 in order to strengthen relations with Russia provoked the biggest wave of protests since the country became independent in 1991, until in February 2014, Yanukovych was forced to flee the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who invaded Georgia six years earlier because of its flirtations with NATO, was quick to punish the new pro-European rulers in Kiev. Just days after Yanukovych's ousting, Russian forces invaded the Crimea and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula to Russia despite protests from the international community, which imposed sanctions on Russian officials and reduced ties with Moscow, but did not change the situation on the ground.
In April 2014, two Russian-speaking districts in eastern Ukraine declared their withdrawal from the state, signalling the start of a civil war in which separatists received active support from the Russians. More than 6,000 people have been killed killed and more than a million have fled their homes since the conflict began. This month, Putin is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in an attempt to end the war, but the end is not yet in sight.
 

China's growth
"This is the beginning of a new era that will see China approach the center of the stage and contribute more to humanity," stated Chinese President and Communist Party Secretary Xi Jinping in his speech before the October 2017 National Congress. At the same conference, Xi cemented his position as the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong, having for five years cemented his rule while purging the party of his opponents in the name of the fight against corruption.
Xi seeks to make China a leading power by the mid-21st century and is working to that end non-stop. Under his leadership, the People's Army underwent comprehensive reforms and achieved advanced capabilities, China consolidated its control over the South China Sea with the transformation of coral reefs into military bases, to the displeasure of the United States and the countries of the region, who claim sovereignty over parts of the sea. Beijing has also become one of the leading voices in the fight against global warming. All this, in tandem with the internal oppression of opponents and the Muslim Uighur minority.
However, since 2017, Xi finds himself facing a stubborn opponent in the form of Trump, who launched an unprecedented trade war and tariffs on China that shook the global economy. Both powers are now moving toward a new agreement that could ease tensions, but the competition between Washington and Beijing is still far from over. And with loaded issues like Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights, the South China Sea and even trade struggles, the cold war between them could also heat up.
 

A decade of leaks
The Wikileaks site and its Australian founder Julian Assange stunned the entire world in 2010 with a series of unprecedented information leaks. In April 2010, he posted a video of an American fighter helicopter shooting at two Iraqi journalists, and in July he published tens of thousands of documents about the War in Afghanistan, with all the information coming from Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning), who served in a US intelligence unit in Iraq. At the end of November, another blow came as hundreds of thousands of documents from the US State Department, some of them classified, began to reveal the unflattering sides of diplomacy.
Assange became a hero for supporters of freedom of information, and an enemy of the state for the United States. After being charged with rape and sexual assault in Sweden, he was arrested in the UK in 2012, but escaped bail and fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for fear of being extradited to the US.
From within the asylum, Assange continued to publicly reveal infortmation on WikiLeaks, culminating in the leaks of Democratic Party e-mails in Hillary Clinton's election campaign shortly after Trump himself called on the site to post the information.
Last April, Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​arrested by the British and sentenced to about a year in prison for violating parole conditions. The Swedes decided to close the cases against him, and it remains to be seen whether he will be sent to the United States, where he is expected to stand trial for leaking classified documents.
WikiLeaks and Assange were the first in a decade of dramatic leaks. In June 2013, Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, revealed some of the most secretive infortmation of the US intelligence community, and provoked tensions between Washington and its allies when it became clear how the United States spied on them. The exposures of the Panama Papers in April 2016 and of the Paradise Documents in November 2017 showed how leaders of states, billionaires, celebrities, drug dealers and terrorists managed to hide money through tax havens and shell companies.
 

The climate crisis
A rare moment of international consensus and unanimity occurred on December 12, 2015 in Paris, when world's countries closed the UN's annual climate conference with an unprecedented agreement recognizing the dangers of climate change, and expressed a willingness to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stop global warming.
Four years have passed, but the reality on the ground has hardly changed. Trump removed the United States from the Paris Agreement, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro also wants to leave the agreement and close his eyes in the face of fires in the Amazon rainforest, while Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison decides to go for a vacation just as his country is burning at unprecedented temperatures.
Scientists also warn that the Earth is warming faster than they thought - the current decade was the hottest ever documented - but that didn't stop world countries from ending the UN summit in Madrid this month with a vague statement on "urgent need" to reduce gas emissions, however no real decisions were made.
Faced with the silence of the leaders, and in the shadow of the wild phenomena ranging from droughts and extreme heat to dire storms and widespread flooding, it was a young girl from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, 16, who dared to call out the inefficencies of world leaders in the past year. The silent girl became a booming voice that provoked millions around the world, calling to the heads of state: "How dare you? You ruined my childhood and you ruin our future!" It now remains to be seen whether in the next decade her call will result in action.
 

Translated by Alex Winston