History-making events that have happened in 2020

TEHRAN, Dec. 31 (MNA) – 2020 was a year of great and influential events and developments in the political, social, economic and sports scene of the world.

News on the outbreak of the coronavirus and its related developments, the assassination of Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, the tragedy of the Ukrainian flight 752, US President Donald Trump's actions on the Palestinian issue, developments in Syria, Libya and Iraq, the death of George Floyd and its related developments in the US, the Beirut explosion, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the US Presidential Election, and the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh were among the major events in the West Asia and the world in 2020.

Here is a look at some of the shocking events that happened, some of which you may have forgotten about:


First cases of coronavirus seen in Wuhan

A man in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the current coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei province of China.

On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 epidemic a public health emergency of international concern. By 1 March 2020, the overall number of people confirmed with COVID-19 in China had reached 80, 174 and a total of 2915 people had died of the disease.

In the absence of an effective vaccine, social distancing measures were needed to prevent transmission of the virus. The Chinese government, therefore, implemented a series of large-scale interventions to control the epidemic. The strictest control measures were applied in Wuhan with a complete lockdown of the population.

Assassination of Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani by US forces in Iraq

A woman participated at funeral procession of Lt. Gen. Soleimani wrote on her hand 'Hard Revenge' 

The US terrorist forces assassinated Commander of IRGC Quds Lt. General Qasem Soleimani, who was among the key figures in the fight against terrorism in Syria and Iraq in the past several years, and the second-in-command of Iraq’s pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in an airstrike ordered by US President Donald Trump at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3, 2020.

Following his assassination, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei conveyed a message and emphasized that Iran will take tough revenge on criminals.

Millions of people have poured onto the streets in some Iranian cities to pay tribute to the martyred Iranian top commander.

After holding massive funeral processions in West southern city of Ahvaz and East northern city of Mashhad, the bodies of the martyred commander and his Iranian companions arrived in Tehran on January 6 where millions of Iranians have packed the streets of the capital to bid farewell to the Iranian anti-terror commander. 

Millions of mourners have come out to the streets in Iran’s southeastern city of Kerman, the hometown of Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani, to attend a final funeral and burial rituals for IRGC commander.

At least 50 people were killed and 190 injured in a stampede in Kerman at the funeral procession for Soleimani.

US base in west of Iraq targeted with tens of IRGC missiles

US Ain al-Asad military base after Iran’s missile strikes

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after launching a wave of attacks in early hours of Wednesday to retaliate the US assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander, Lt. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

An informed source at the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said over 80 American terrorist troops were killed and some 200 wounded in the IRGC’s missile strikes on the US airbase of Ain al-Assad but US officials have denied that any troops were killed in the attack.

Ukrainian civil airliner downed due to human error

A rescue worker searches scene where a Ukrainian plane crashed in Tehran Jan. 8, 2020

The Tehran-Kyiv flight was unintentionally shot down by an air defense unit shortly after taking off from Tehran on January 8, killing all 176 passengers and crew members on board. Among the victims of the PS752 flight, many were Iranian-Canadians, but there were also victims from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.

The incident came as Iranian air defences were at the highest level of alert following the country’s missile attacks against US bases in Iraq, which came in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of senior Iranian commander Lieutenant General Qasem Soleimani. The Iranian operator was reported to have mistaken the Boeing jetliner for a cruise missile.

Iran has promised to adopt all necessary legal measures and to bring those behind the mistake before military justice and has agreed to compensate the families of the foreign victims of the downed plane.

Australian wildfires

A firefighter walks past burning trees during a battle against bushfires around Nowra in New South Wales, Australia

Australia faced one of its worst fire seasons in history beginning in 2019 and continuing into 2020 — which riveted the world as flames burned a record 47 million acres, displaced thousands of people and killed at least 34. Researchers said the fires also razed rare habitats and killed more than a billion animals.

On March 2, for the first time in 240 days, officials said not a single bush fire burned in the country’s most populous state of New South Wales.

UK formally withdraws from EU

A man checks his watch a few minutes before Britain leaves EU on Brexit day in London on Jan 31, 2020

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) ratified Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, marking the United Kingdom’s formal withdrawal from the European Union (EU). On this day, the UK officially left the bloc at 23:00 GMT. It also marked the beginning of an 11-month transition period where the different sides can negotiate their future economic relations.

Oman's Sultan Qaboos dies aged 79

Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said of Oman

Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, who ruled the Persian Gulf country for nearly five decades died at the age of 79 on Friday afternoon.

Muscat subsequently declared a three-day period of national mourning.

Kobe Bryant dies in chopper crash

NBA champion Kobe Bryant

Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, US. The 41-year old basketball icon was with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others when the chopper went down due to technical difficulties, killing everyone on board.


Ghani wins second term as president of Afghanistan

Ashraf Ghani has won a second term as president of Afghanistan 

Ashraf Ghani has won a second term as president of Afghanistan, the country's independent election commission announced on Feb. 18, more than four months after polls closed.

The commission said Ghani garnered 923,592 votes, or 50.64 percent, in the election that took place last Sept. 28. Challenger and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah received 720,841 votes or 39.52 percent.

53 killed in India protests against a new citizenship law

Protesters hurl brickbats in clashes between anti-CAA protesters & supporters of new citizenship ac in northeast Delhi 

In February, at least 53 people were killed in the worst religious violence the Indian capital witnessed in decades. The violence erupted after a mob led by a governing party leader targeted sit-ins in New Delhi against a new citizenship law, which critics say goes against the secular ethos of the country.

The passage of the law in December triggered nationwide protests, mostly led by Muslims who said the law discriminates against them.

Hosni Mubarak passes away at 94

Mubarak pictured during his trial in 2012

Egyptian former President Hosni Mubarak has died at the age of 94 after suffering long illness, state-run TV reported.


COVID-19 outbreak officially labelled as a pandemic

A worker wearing protective garments sanitises the Duomo square in central Milan, Italy March 31, 2020

Owing to the alarming rise in cases in almost every leading country in the world, the WHO labelled the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic. All affected nations announced strict rules of lockdown soon after, asking its citizens to self-quarantine themselves at home. Workplaces which could arrange for their employees to work from home were asked to do so. People who had to venture out of their homes for the essential task were asked to strictly maintain social distancing norms. Interstate and international travels were banned in most nations and scores of public events were canceled or postponed to later dates. Several industries such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment took a hard hit from the strict rules. As of June 23, there were 9.03 million cases around the world, with over 471,000 reported deaths.

Summer Olympics canceled

2 women wear masks in Tokyo, Japan

Owing to the pandemic, 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed to July 23-Aug. 8 in the next year. Several other major sporting events were postponed to 2021, including Wimbledon, UEFA Euro and the US Open.


Boris Johnson moved to intensive care as symptoms worsen

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is tackling the COVID-19 crisis via video calls 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved to intensive care in hospital after his coronavirus symptoms "worsened", Downing Street has said.

A spokesman said he was moved on the advice of his medical team and was receiving "excellent care".

Oil prices hit record lows

For the first time in recorded history, the US oil market dipped to negative prices. Due to lockdowns and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North American oil producers faced an unmatched oversupply of crude oil and not enough space to store them, leading to the crisis.


Pakistani passenger plane crashes near Karachi

Pakistan International Airlines flight crashed in a residential area of Karachi, Pakistan on May 22, 2020

A Pakistan International Airlines Airbus A320 crashed into a residential area near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, as it approached the airport, following technical failure. At least 97, including passengers and crew members, were killed in the disaster.

Police killing of George Floyd resonated around world

Demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd in Portland, Maine

George Floyd died after being pinned down by a white officer despite yelling: "I cannot breathe."

The brutal killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020, has sparked worldwide rallies in solidarity with anti-racism protests in the United States.

Caught on a phone’s camera by onlookers, the viral video shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee to Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street. “I can’t breathe,” Floyd says repeatedly while three other officers watch. “Please. Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please, man.” According to the complaint submitted to the court, during the final three minutes, Floyd was unresponsive and had no pulse, but officers made no attempt to revive him and Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck even as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

Police-involved shootings and killings of unarmed black men in the hands of white police officers in the US have led to mass protests across the country in recent years and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.


Trump moves to pull US out of World Health Organization

Trump and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom at G20 summit in Hamburg

President Donald Trump has formally moved to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The president had made his intentions clear in late May, accusing the WHO of being under China's control in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite calls from the EU and others, he said he would pull out of the UN agency and redirect funds elsewhere.

He has now notified the UN and Congress of his intentions, although the process could take at least a year.

Muslims pray in Hagia Sophia for 1st time in 86 yrs.

People perform the noon prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, 26 July 2020

Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has led worshippers in the first prayers in Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia since his controversial declaration that the monument, which over the centuries has served as a cathedral, mosque and museum, would be turned back into a Muslim house of worship.

US warplanes harass Iranian airliner, put lives in danger

Iranian airliner Mahan Air

Two US warplanes have conducted dangerous and aggressive maneuvering closed to an Iranian airliner, putting lives of tens of civilian passengers on board in danger.

The incident took place on Thursday, July 24 involving two warplanes and Mahan Air’s Flight 1152 that had taken off from Tehran and was en route to the Lebanese capital, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) News, the Iranian national broadcaster’s news outlet, reported, citing Syria’s civil aviation authority.

The harassment didn’t stop the plane and it continued the path towards Beirut and landed safely in the Lebanese capital.

Iran condemned the US harassment of Mahan airliner.


At least 200 killed, 6,500 injuries in Beirut Blast

The explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in history, ravaged swathes of Beirut

On 4 August 2020, a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored at the port of the city of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, exploded, causing at least 204 deaths, 6,500 injuries, and US$15 billion in property damage, and leaving an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

A cargo of 2,750 tonnes of the substance (equivalent to around 1.1 kilotons of TNT) had been stored in a warehouse without proper safety measures for the previous six years, after having been confiscated by the Lebanese authorities from the abandoned ship MV Rhosus. The explosion was preceded by a fire in the same warehouse, but as of November 2020, the exact cause of the detonation is still under investigation.

UAE normalizes relation with Israel regime

President Trump, Zionist regime Prime Minister Netanyahu, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs bin Zayed Al Nahyanisigns sign Abraham Accords 

The Israeli regime and the UAE have agreed to normalize relations, US President Donald Trump said on August 14.

A joint statement from the US, UAE, and Israeli regime claimed the "breakthrough" will promote "peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders,” referring to Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Netanyahu.

Under the deal, the Israeli regime will "suspend" plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank "and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world," according to the statement.

While the US and Israeli officials termed the agreement as a great breakthrough, Palestinian factions strongly condemned the measure unanimously.

The Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement calling it “a reward for the Israeli occupation and crimes," and the West Bank-headquartered Palestinian Authority (PA) denouncing it as an act of "aggression" against the Palestinian people and a "betrayal" of their cause.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recalled the Authority’s envoy from Abu Dhabi and demanded that the Arab League address the issue of the agreement in an emergency meeting.

US intends to restore virtually all of UN sanctions on Iran

US President Trump signed an executive order for new sanctions against Iran

US President Trump has directed Pompeo on August 20 to notify the UNSC that the US intends to restore virtually all of the United Nations sanctions on Iran.

“Today I'm directing the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to notify the United Nations Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the United Nations sanctions on Iran – it’s a snapback, not uncommon,” Trump told reporters during a White House press conference.

Since the unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, the Trump administration has imposed severe sanctions on Iran's economy, hoping to pressure Iran into a new deal. However, Tehran says it will continue the 'maximum resistance' policy in the face of Washington's 'maximum pressure'.

As more than two years have passed since the promise, the US government has failed to achieve this goal and for this reason, Trump has been criticized by various groups in the United States, especially at the threshold of 2020 US Presidential Election which will be held in November.

The administration of US President Donald Trump suffered an embarrassing loss on August 14 as it failed to renew the Iranian arms embargo through a resolution at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Russia and China voted against the motion and the remaining 11 council members, including France, Germany and the UK, abstained.

Following the humiliating failure, the United States vowed to use its “secondary” sanctions to block any arms trades with Tehran after the expiry of the UN ban.

Japan PM Abe officially announced resignation

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wearing a protective face mask

Citing health issues, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has officially announced his resignation in a press conference.

Abe said that a regular checkup in June showed signs of a recurrence of ulcerative colitis and that he began feeling physically worn down as his condition worsened around mid-July.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has been elected leader of the country's leading Liberal Democratic Party.


Bahrain normalizes relation with Israel regime

Bahrain, Israeli regime sign normalization of relations agreement

US President Donal Trump tweeted the news of the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal after he spoke by phone to Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israel regime's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following the announcement at the White House, Palestinian officials have condemned the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal announced by US President Donald Trump as another "stab in the back" by an Arab state.

The accord normalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain came one month after the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize ties with Israel under a US-brokered deal.

2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war

Nagorno-Karabakh conflict 

Clashes between the Azerbaijan Republic and Armenia began on the morning of 27 September 2020 along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, which had been established in the aftermath of the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Violence flared up in Nagorno-Karabakh, with militaries from both accusing each other for the major escalation.

On 9 November 2020, in the aftermath of the capture of Shusha, a ceasefire agreement was signed by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, ending all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from 10 November 2020.

Under the terms of the deal, both belligerent parties were to exchange prisoners of war and the bodies of the fallen. Furthermore, Armenian forces were to withdraw from Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh by 1 December 2020.


Muslims worldwide anger against Macron anti-Islam remarks

Pakistani Muslims burn a representation of a French flag, a defaced image of Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron had openly supported anti-Muslim acts in France against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

“We will not give in, ever. We respect all differences in a spirit of peace. We do not accept hate speech and defend reasonable debate. We will always be on the side of human dignity and universal values,” he tweeted on Sunday, in support for a French teacher’s displaying of cartoons insulting of the Prophet of Islam in his class under the pretext of “freedom of speech.”

The teacher Samuel Paty was murdered by an 18-year-old Chechen assailant. Commenting on the attack, Macron described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide, trying to suggest that the assailant had been motivated to kill the teacher by the faith rather than radicalism.

The comments have raised controversy and provoked a wave of criticism from the Muslim world against the French leader.


Attack on Afghan university leaves 22 dead, 40 wounded

A damaged room at the Kabul University is seen after a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2020

Gunmen stormed Kabul University on November 2 during an Iranian book fair, firing shots and sending students fleeing, Afghan officials and witnesses said.

The attack led to an armed clash between the gunmen and the police, which killed at least 22 and wounded 40.

The Taliban said they were not involved and ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack.

Joe Biden wins 2020 US presidential election

Joe Biden, his wife Jill & vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris celebrate at their election rally

Following a tense week of vote tallying, Joe Biden won the state of Pennsylvania and vaulted ahead in the race to become the next president of the United States. Biden’s win in the critical state put him over the threshold of 270 electoral votes, cutting off all avenues for his opponent.

As his vice president, Kamala Harris will make history in myriad ways, becoming the first woman — and the first woman of color — to occupy the office.

After the result of the election announced, Donald Trump rejected the victory of his Democratic rival in the presidential election, claiming that Biden has not won in any state and that the election is far from over.

Trump, Republican allies and conservative media outlets have spread claims of voter fraud, arguing that Trump won the election by a landslide even though the Electoral College formally elected Biden this month.

The claims are numerous and varied but all come down to Trump's refusal to accept that he lost the election, and all are based on dubious premises.

Trump has argued that voting machines changed votes from Trump to Biden, Republican poll watchers were not allowed to observe election processes, dead people voted in masses and the use of Sharpies allowed poll workers to invalidate Trump votes.

Following these statements, supporters of US President Donald Trump held demonstrations in some cities of the country to show their protest to the results of the 2020 US Presidential Election. Violent clashes erupted between Trump supporters and opponents near the White House.

Top Iranian scientist 'Mohsen Fakhrizadeh' assassinated

The scene where Moshen Fakhrizadeh assassinated

Top Iranian nuclear and defence scientist 'Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh', who headed the Iranian Defense Ministry’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (known by its acronym SPND), was targeted on Friday in a multi-pronged attack involving at least one explosion and small fire by a number of assailants in Absard city of Damavand County, Tehran Province.

In a clash between the scientist’s bodyguard team and the assassins, Fakhrizadeh was seriously wounded and transferred to the hospital immediately after the attack but was martyred due to the wounds he had sustained in the terrorist assault.

Pfizer and Biontech announce vaccine candidate against covid-19 achieved success in first interim analysis from phase 3 study

Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, against SARS-CoV-2 has demonstrated evidence of efficacy against COVID-19 in participants without prior evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, based on the first interim efficacy analysis conducted on November 8, 2020, by an external, independent Data Monitoring Committee (DMC) from the Phase 3 clinical study.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO.

“The first interim analysis of our global Phase 3 study provides evidence that a vaccine may effectively prevent COVID-19. This is a victory for innovation, science and a global collaborative effort,” said Prof. Ugur Sahin, BioNTech co-founder and CEO.

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona dies at 60

Maradona led Argentina to a World Cup victory in 1986

Argentinian football legend Diego Maradona died at the age of 60 due to a heart attack just two weeks after being released from the hospital.

Maradona died at home, his lawyer said, just three weeks after having surgery on a blot clot in his brain.


New strain of COVID-19 reported in United Kingdom

The UK warned of a new coronavirus variant that is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease.

Iran and a number of world countries are suspending flights to the UK as a new strain of coronavirus is reported to taking hold in London and southeast England.

Several countries announced plans to shut their borders to Britain. In Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands have all barred flights from the UK, while Austria and Sweden are reportedly preparing to do the same.

Human test of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine kicked off

Starting of human phase of Iranian COVID-19 vaccine

The first phase of the clinical trial of a COVID vaccine developed by companies under the Execution of Imam Khomeini Order (EIKO) kicked off on December 29.

Senior managers of EIKO and the daughter of Mohammad Mokhber, the head of EIKO were among the 56 volunteers for injection of the vaccine.  

The second home-made coronavirus vaccine, developed by Pasteur Institute of Iran, is going through trial phases, said the head of the Institute.

He added that the animal phase of the vaccine and its first human phase have been successfully completed and the second human phase has already started. “The third human phase, which is the least dangerous one, will be carried out on nearly 50,000 individuals in the course of the next two months,” Biglari predicted.

Reported by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan

News Code 167853


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