IPE Club’s 2021 year in review: Headline stories

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic followed by economic disruption have been dominating the world media for the whole 2020. This year, while repercussions from the coronavirus pandemic are still being felt, became more “flush” on the variety of events, both positive and tragic ones. End of the year it is always a time to sum up the results. IPE Club proposes to have a quick look on the most important events of year 2021 to see how it will remain in history of humanity.

January 2021


Joe Biden took office as 46th American President

The 78-year-old Democrat, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. became the 46th U.S. president, taking the oath of office at the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021. Biden, a Democrat, won the presidency in November in his third try. His first attempt came during the 1988 presidential cycle, followed by a 2008 primary loss to his future boss Barack Obama. Biden served two terms as Obama’s vice president from 2009 to 2017. He took the job after 36 years in the Senate representing Delaware.

February 2021


Military coup in Myanmar

Military seized power in Myanmar in a coup on February 1, after detaining the country’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other top government figures. In a television address, the army announced that power had been handed to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and declared a national state of emergency for one year.

US and Russia extended New START nuclear arms control treaty

The United States and the Russian Federation have agreed to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years on February 4, 2021. The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START Treaty), which was due to expire on Friday, imposes limits on Russian and US intercontinental missiles and bombers.

March 2021


Pope Francis paid his first ever visit to Iraq

Pope Francis has arrived in Iraq on March 5, for the first ever papal visit there, and his first international trip since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Iraq’s PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi greeted the Pope at the airport. On the plane, Francis said he was happy to be travelling again, adding: “This is an emblematic trip and it is a duty towards a land that has been martyred for so many years.”

Iran and China sign 25 year Cooperation Program deal

China and Iran signed a 25-year cooperation agreement on March 27 to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance. The deal brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure scheme intended to stretch from East Asia to Europe.

April 2021


President Biden recognized killing of Armenians by Ottoman Empire as genocide

On April 24, President Joe Biden formally recognized the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923 as an act of “genocide”. He emphasized the need to recognize and remember such atrocities “so that the horrors of what happened are never lost to history.”

May 2021


Escalation of tensions between Israel and Palestine, attacks on Gaza

An outbreak of violence commenced on May 10, 2021 and continued until a ceasefire came into effect on 21 May. The crisis was triggered on 6 May, when Palestinians began protests in East Jerusalem over an anticipated decision of the Supreme Court of Israel on the eviction of six Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. As a result of the violence, at least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, have been killed. In Israel, at least 13 people have been killed, including two children. A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas came into effect on 21 May 2021, ending 11 days of fighting.

Belarus accused of “state-sponsored hijacking”

The Ryanair flight was about to begin its descent to Vilnius in Lithuania when it suddenly changed direction and descending towards the Belarusian capital. One of the passengers on the aircraft was Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Roman Protasevich, who was arrested as soon as the plane landed, according to the Belarus Interior Ministry. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary on Monday accused Belarus of “state-sponsored hijacking, state-sponsored piracy.”

Military coup in Mali

The 2021 Malian coup d’état began on the night of 24 May 2021 when the Malian Army led by Vice President Assimi Goïta captured President Bah N’daw, Prime Minister Moctar Ouane and Minister of Defence Souleymane Doucouré. On 25 May, former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan of ECOWAS began to lead mediation efforts with Mali’s military. From detention, both N’Daw and Ouane submitted their resignations to Goïta on 26 May. The military released the ousted leaders on 27 May.

June 2021

G7 summit

G7 summit was held from 11 to 13 June 2021 in Cornwall, England, during the United Kingdom’s tenure of the presidency of the Group of Seven (G7). Topics of discussion included developing a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, international co-ordination on economic policies and climate change.

Naftali Bennett became Israeli Prime Minister after Netanyahu’s 12 years in power

Naftali Bennett was sworn in as Israel’s new prime minister on June 13, after winning a confidence vote of 60 votes to 59. His victory ended a 12-year period on power by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader.

Putin-Biden summit in Geneva

U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin met for the U.S.-Russia summit at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16. This summit became one of the most highly anticipated political events of the year. The agenda of the meeting included “strategic stability,” climate change as well as nuclear stability, arms control and cybersecurity and a range of other topics like situation with opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Ukraine, Belarus, etc.

Ebrahim Raisi elected as Iranian President

Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi has taken a wide lead over rivals, becoming the new president of Islamic Republic of Iran in June 18 elections. Addressing the press, Ebrahim Raisi said that the new government will make every effort to solve the country’s problems, particularly the living problems of the people.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma sentenced in prison

South Africa’s highest court found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison on June 29. Zuma, resigned as president in 2018 amid corruption scandals and was accused of helping a prominent business family obtain state contracts and influence government policy.

July 2021


President Biden announced US troops withdraw from Afghanistan by August 31

President Joe Biden announced on July that the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be completed by Aug. 31. “Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on Aug. 31. The drawdown is proceeding in a secure and orderly way, prioritizing the safety of our troops as they depart,” he said.

Summer Olympic Games officially open in Tokyo

The XXXII Summer Olympic Games officially began in the National Stadium in Tokyo on July 23, after a year-long delay due to Covid-19 pandemic. The 2020 Games were the fourth Olympic Games to be held in Japan, following the Tokyo 1964 (Summer), Sapporo 1972 (Winter) and Nagano 1998 (Winter) games.

August 2021


132 wildfires erupt in southern Turkey

A series of wildfires burnt 1,700 square kilometres of forest in Turkey’s Mediterranean region in the worst-ever wildfire season in the country’s history. The wildfires started in Manavgat, Antalya Province.

Taliban forces enter the Afghan capital Kabul and take control

Taliban forces have taken control of Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul on Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021, following the collapse of the western-backed Afghan government. The city’s capture took place hours after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

Missile and drone attack on al-Anad airbase in south Yemen

A missile and drone attack on a key military base in southern Yemen on August 29 killed at least 30 troops. It was one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s civil war in recent years.

America ends its 20 years long war in Afghanistan on August 30

The United States finished its withdrawal efforts from the airport in Kabul on August 30, ending a two-decade war. President Joe Biden, in a statement Monday evening, thanked the American military: “They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended”, the statement said.

September 2021

Military coup in Guinea

On September 6, Guinean Special Forces seized power in a coup, arrested the president, and promised to change the political makeup of the country. The country’s borders were closed and its constitution was declared invalid.

Taliban announced interim government in Afghanistan

The Taliban have announced an interim government in Afghanistan on September 7, declaring the country an “Islamic Emirate”. The new cabinet, entirely male, is made up of senior Taliban figures some of whom are notorious for attacks on US forces over the last two decades.

US, UK and Australia announced AUKUS trilateral security partnership

On September 16, US, UK and Australia have announced the formation of AUKUS – a new trilateral security partnership for Indo-Pacific region. It was announced in a joint address by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden with a vision for a safer and more secure Indo-Pacific and aim to confronting China. The first project of AUKUS will be to help Australia acquire a nuclear-powered conventionally-armed submarine fleet.

France has killed leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara

President Macron announced the death of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara’s leader, calling Adnan Abu al-Walid al-Sahrawi’s killing “a major success” for the French military after more than eight years fighting extremists in the Sahel.

Centre-left Social Democrats win German elections

Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have narrowly won the country’s federal elections on September 27. The SPD secured 25.7% of the vote, while the ruling conservative CDU/CSU bloc gained 24.1%.

October 2021

Pandora Papers investigation

The Pandora Papers are 11.9 million leaked documents, published by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on 3 October 2021. The leak exposed the secret offshore accounts of 35 world leaders, including current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state as well as more than 100 billionaires, celebrities, and business leaders.

Coup in Sudan

The Sudanese military, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, took control of the government in a military coup on October 25. At least five senior government figures were initially detained. Civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok refused to declare support for the coup and on 25 October called for popular resistance.

G20 summit in Rome

G20 Rome summit was held in Rome on 30–31 October 2021.Meeting in person for the first time in two years, G20 leaders had a full agenda including climate change, the Covid pandemic, a landmark tax deal and global economy concerns.

November 2021

COP26 summit

COP26 took place on 1-12 November, 2021 at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. The summit was chaired by UK cabinet minister Alok Sharma. The UK and Italian governments, which were co-hosting COP26, have set four goals for the 2021 event: Agreeing a step change in commitments to emissions reduction; Strengthening adaptation to climate change impacts; Getting finance flowing for climate action; Enhancing international collaboration on energy transition, clean road transport and nature.

Barbados becomes youngest Republic

Barbados has cut its ties with the British monarchy, thus becoming the world’s youngest republic as its current representative, Governor General Sandra Mason, replaced Queen Elizabeth II as head of state after 55 years of reign.

Turkish lira record fall

Throughout November the Turkish currency has hit record lows against the euro and US dollar, despite efforts by its central bank to stop the rot. The fall comes as the effects of the global pandemic and poor economic policy converge. According to an estimate by US investment bank Goldman Sachs, the country has spent $65 billion (€55.2 billion) this year on managing its currency.

December 2021


Olaf Scholz sworn as the new Chancellor of Germany

On December, Olaf Scholz has sworn as Germany’s new Chancellor, bringing to an end Angela Merkel’s era.

Escalation of tensions between NATO and Russia

Military tensions between Russia and NATO have escalated further over the December, over the situation on Poland-Belarus border and Ukraine. Russia, NATO and US agreed to hold several bilateral meetings to discuss the issues of concern.



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