Hello, and welcome to the 2018 Year In Review! It was a chaotic year, filled with lots of interesting, news worthy events, some good, some sad, some bad. But, here we are now in a new year, filled with new beginnings and hopefully a wonderful year for everyone

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US/UK/France participate in joint military strikes in Syria, photo above shows Surface to Air missile fire by the Syrian government, targeting projectiles over the skies of Damascus. Image courtesy of Robert Burns, Jill Colvin and Zeke Miller with the Associated Press

April 14th, 2018 – The United States, France and the United Kingdom participate in joint military strikes involving aircraft and ship-based missiles against numerous Syrian government sites. The joint military strikes targeted buildings the United States military claims were used to store chemical weapons, which the United States also claims were used against civilians in Damascus the weekend before, killing more than 40 people.

The strikes further pushed the United States into the very complex and multi-sided war inside of Syria, and further raised the probability of a military confrontation with militarys like the Iran military and the Russian military, who are both supportive of the Syrian government. Within 1 1/2 hours of the United States announcing strikes inside of Syria the Russian ambassador to the United States warned of consequences for the attacks.

Despite the obvious fact that the strikes between the three countries risked severe military confrontation with Russia and Iran, here we sit in 2019, a little less than a year from this incident, and nothing has happened. Will 2019 be a different experience though? And will the Syrian government utilize chemical weapons again as the US government claims?

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald J. Trump shake hands at the long awaited US-NK summit, hoping to ease tensions between the two countries. Image courtesy of CNN.

June 12th, 2018 – The United States has never failed to make their opinion on North Korea known, and the same goes for North Korea. The two countries for the longest time have been at an almost state of war between each other, whether it be a war of words, or something else.

Just after the summit was actually announced, the President of the United States actually canceled the summit with the North Korean leader citing a “threatening statement” from North Korea, and further stated that the United States military is ready if necessary. The decision was very abrupt, and was a surprise to US allies in the region, and across the world. North Korea responded to the cancellation stating they did everything in their ability to hold the summit with President Trump, and said “We tell the United States once more that we are open to resolving problems at any time in any way”.

However, despite the summit being cancelled it was back on shortly after that. The President of the United States and the leader of North Korea were about to meet, face to face, together, this was it. The location was known to the public, and all of the media was sent there to cover it live. It was definitely an event that was historical, and possibly is leading to better relations between the two countries.

The United States and North Korea reportedly signed an agreement in a joint signing ceremony, which stated many things but most importantly was that the United States and the DPRK would commit to establishing new US-DPRK relations, that the DPRK would commit to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and that the US and the DPRK would commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

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Image taking from CCTV footage shows Jamal Khashoggi as he enters the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey

October 2nd, 2018 – The Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi dissident and journalist for The Washington Post) was something that was very popular in and around this time of the year. The journalist was originally suspected to have been murdered by the Saudi government, at the direction of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman, however there was a lot of investigation going on behind the scenes to determine who did it.

Mr. Khashoggi was entering the consulate to obtain documents that were related to the marriage that he and his fiancee were planning. However, there was zero security footage of him leaving the building, therefore he was declared a missing person, which came amid reports that he was assassinated and dismembered inside of the consulate.

When the news of the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi came out, the Saudi Arabian government immediately claimed that he had left the consulate, and after that they had no subsequent knowledge of his whereabouts or his fate. However, Turkish media responded with evidence that suggested Khashoggi never left the consulate, which further complicated things.

October 20th, 2018 – The Saudi Foreign Ministry reported that based off a preliminary investigation, Mr. Khashoggi was murdered while he was engaged in a fist fight, which is the first Saudi acknowledgement of the death of Khashoggi.

October 22nd, 2018 – Six US and western officials stated that they believed that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, simply because of his role overseeing the Saudi security personnel, was responsible for the disappearance of Khashoggi. The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (Gina Haspel) departed the United States for Turkey for work on the investigation, amid a growing international uproar over the Saudi’s explanation of the killing.

November 15th, 2018 – The Saudi Prosecutors Office stated that eleven Saudi nationals had been indicted and charged with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and that five of the eleven indicted would face the death penalty since it’d been determined they were involved in “ordering and executing” the crime.

Russian jets fly over the bridge, and a tanker is seen under the huge arch of the bridge. Photo: 25 November 2018
A Russian tanker blocking off all traffic from and into the Sea of Azov, which the Ukrainian Navy frequents. You can also see two Russian fighter jets buzzing the bridge as well. Image courtesy of the BBC.

November 26th, 2018 – The Ukrainian Navy and the Russian Navy collide in the Sea of Azov due to the Russian Navy closing off the Sea of Azov for all maritime traffic, including the Ukrainian Navy which frequents the waters of the Sea of Azov.

It all began in the region of the Sea of Azov, when Ukrainian Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yana Kapa tugboat, tried to sail from the Black sea port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian Navy claims that the Russian Navy tried to intercept the ships, and ended up ramming the tugboat. The vessels then continued towards the Kerch Strait, but were prevented by the tanker seen in the image above.

Image from the BBC showing a diagram that explains where the regions mentioned above are located.

The Russian Air Force scrambled two fighter jets and two helicopters to the area. Russian then accused the ships of illegally entering its waters, and further stated that maritime traffic had been suspended for security reasons. The Ukrainian Navy confirms that six Ukrainian Naval sailors were injured as their boat was rammed by the Russian Navy.

As this incident went on even further, the Russian FSB decided to use weapons to stop the Ukrainian ships from sailing even more through the region, and to board the ships. 3 Ukrainian soldiers were injured and kidnapped by the Russian Navy, which to this day are still being held under captivity by the Russian government.

US Secretary of Defense at the US Capital earlier December image courtesy of Win McNamee with Getty Images.

December 20th, 2018 – US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis resigns from his position. The US Secretary of Defense pointed to some differences that he had with the President of the United States and a couple other reasons for resigning his position. The SecDef’s resignation came just one day after the United States decided to pull American troops from Syria.

Also, the United States ordered the removal of 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as well, which the SecDef ordered before he resigned his position.

James Mattis had went to the White House just days before to talk to the President about a gradual withdrawal of American troops inside of Syria, which according to reports the President wasn’t okay with, and The SecDef’s resignation letter somewhat confirms that.

In his resignation letter, he states that he feels the President should have a Secretary of Defense that’s more aligned with his views, basically saying that him and the President didn’t agree on most things, which we’ve heard before considering the President and the SecDef before had arguments on how to strike Syria.

I didn’t want to write too much here, so hopefully four main events from 2018 is enough! If this does well I can do a part two of this, and collect some more events from 2018 and do another write up. 2018 was a wild year! Hopefully 2019 will be better, and will be full of great things, for all of us. Thank you for a wonderful 2018, here’s to an even better 2019.

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