Europe 2020: Brexit
The Spanish government swiftly clamped down on the 2017 Catalan independence attempt while Iraq pushed Kurdistan to come to terms. However, despite delays and bitter disputes about the details, the UK officially broke with the European Union in January 2020.
20 Jan–24 Mar 2018 Operation Olive Branch▲
In Operation Olive Branch the Turkish Armed Forces invaded the majority-Kurdish Afrin District of northwest Syria, supported by Syrian Arab and Turkmen militias. After Afrin city fell in March 2018, an insurgency developed against Turkish occupation of the region.
25 Nov 2018 Kerch Strait incident▲
In November 2018 the Russian Coast Guard fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels in the Kerch Strait—lying between Russia and the Russian-annexed Crimean Peninsula—as they attempted to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov en route to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. Russia claimed that the ships had entered Russian territorial waters; Ukraine responded by declaring one month of regional martial law under the stated concern of a Russian invasion. Russian actions were criticized by Europe and the United States.
19 Dec 2018 Trump’s withdrawal from Syria▲
In December 2018, without any apparent consultation with Congress and against the recommendations of his advisors, United States President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the war with ISIS (Daesh) had been won and the remaining 2,000 US troops in Syria would be withdrawn, although he gave no clear timetable. The following day US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis tendered his resignation, expressing concern that the fight with ISIS was not yet complete and that the move handed control of the region to Russia and Iran and was an abandonment of the US’s Kurdish allies. Trump’s words were also met with concern by US allies, although they were greeted as a positive move by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The withdrawal took place over 2019, but was partially reversed in late October to leave 500–900 US troops in eastern Syria.
5 May 2019–26 Feb 2021 Iran–US confrontation▲
In May 2018 United States president Donald Trump withdrew the US from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran, reinstating sanctions against Iran and raising tensions between the two countries. From May 2019 the US, Iran, and their allies mounted limited attacks and counterattacks against each other’s assets in the Persian Gulf, leading up to 31 December Iranian-backed attack on the US Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and a 3 January 2020 airstrike in which US drone-launched missiles targeted and killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and 9 others near Baghdad Airport. In retaliation, Iran launched missile strikes at an unoccupied US airbase in Iraq.
9–17 Oct 2019 Operation Peace Spring▲
On 6 October 2019 United States president Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Rojava in northeastern Syria, where the US had been supporting its Kurdish allies. Three days later, in what they code-named Operation Peace Spring, Turkey troops crossed into Rojava, expelling Kurdish forces from a 30 km-deep “safe zone” in the border region. The Kurds responded by reaching an agreement with the Syrian government, allowing the Syrian Army to enter Rojava in an attempt to defend the region against further Turkish offensives.
31 Jan 2020 Brexit▲
Following the 2016 referendum on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the UK government formally announced the country’s withdrawal (“Brexit”) in March 2017, only face delays due to a deadlock in parliament. Eventually, after the resignation of two prime ministers and the victory of the pro-Brexit Boris Johnson in a general election, parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement on 20 December 2019. At 11 pm on 31 January 2020 the UK left the EU, with the Council of the EU concluding EU ratification the following day.