Timeline: 2006

Evo Morales, President of Bolivia

President Morales

Jan 22  Evo Morales becomes Bolivia's first indigenous head of state since the Spanish Conquest. He was a leader among fellow campesinos and opposed to US efforts to eradicate coca growing. 

Jan 25  Hamas becomes a majority in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Jan 25  Ayaan Hirsi Ali says that "so-called Western values" of freedom and justice are universal; that Europe has done far better than most areas of the world at providing justice, because it has guaranteed the freedom of thought and debate that are required for critical self-examination; and that communities cannot reform themselves unless "scrupulous investigation of every former and current doctrine is possible."

Feb 16  In Haiti, after almost two years of international peacekeeping, elections have been held. The results have been contested. A Provisional Electoral Council decides that René Préval has won 51.15 percent of the votes and a runoff election will not be necessary.

Feb 22  In Irag, a bomb does heavy damage at one of the holiest sites for the Shia, the al-Askari Mosque. Fear rises that anger will further destabilize Iraq.

Feb 26  World population is calculated at 6.5 billion.

Mar 11  Michelle Bachelet is sworn in as Chile's first female president. She speaks of bringing the country together. 

Mar 20  President Bush describes a policy of "clear, hold and build" in Iraq regarding the northern town of Tal Afar.

Mar 26  In Scotland smoking is banned in public bars and restaurants. 

Apr 11  President Ahmadinejad confirms that Iran has produced a few grams of 3.5 percent low-enriched uranium.

Apr 17  A suicide bombing in Tel Aviv kills nine and injures dozens.

Apr 22  In Afghanistan, four Canadian soldiers are killed by a roadside bomb.

May 1  President Morales nationalizes Bolivia's gas fields. 

May 8   Fighting between Fatah and Hamas leaves one Fatah gunman dead and two Hamas gunmen dead.  

May 14  In Haiti, after a couple of months in which approximately 4,000 demonstrators have been killed, René Préval is inaugurated president. His relations with the US are good and the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, is in attendance. So too is one of Haiti's former brutal dictators, General Prosper Avril.

May 31 In Iraq, insurgent attacks have been rising: an average of 72 per day in January, 87 in February, 95 in March, 110 in April, 113 in May. (Bob Woodward)

Jun 3  Montenegro, formerly a part of Yugoslavia, becomes independent. 

Jun 8  A US air strike kills Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. President Bush speaks of "justice to the most wanted terrorist in Iraq." Iraqis, he says, "can be justly proud of their new government and its early steps to improve their security."

Jun 8 The Christian Science Monitor reports that "150 tribal elders have been killed in Waziristan in the past three years." The article, by David Montero, adds that "Without the authority of the elders, there is little to stop the growing power of radical mullahs and the Taliban they support in a land where top Al Qaeda figures have been thought to hide."

Jun 13  In the US, President Bush meets with Prime Minister Maliki and says that Maliki "intends to develop a plan to ensure that no entities outside the Iraqi government wield force in Iraq."

Jun 28  Montenegro becomes the 192nd member of the United Nations.

Jun 28  In response to the abduction of a corporal and the death of two of its soldiers, Israel sends tanks into the Gaza Strip.

Jun 29  The US Supreme Court rules that President Bush has overstepped his authority by ordering military war-crime trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

Jul 1  A railway now connects China proper with Tibet.

Jul 3  Rockets fired from Gaza have hit the Israeli city of Ashkelom. Israel sends troops into northern Gaza.

Jul 6  In Mexico, Felipe Calderon is confirmed the winner of the presidential election held four days before.

Jul 12  Hezbollah seizes two Israeli soldiers, kills three Israeli soldiers and demands a prisoner exchange. Israel's Prime Minister, Olmert, calls Hezbollah's actions an act of war.

Jul 13  Rockets fired by Hezbollah strike Haifa.

Jul 14  Israeli airpower destroys Hezbollah's headquarters in Beirut. To cut off help to Hezbollah, Israeli warships lob shells onto the runway of Beirut's airport.  Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz of Israel announces that "If the [Israeli] soldiers are not returned, we will turn Lebanon's clock back 20 years."

Jul 16  Possible US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich tells Meet the Press, "We're in the early stages of what I would describe as the Third World War."

Jul 23  Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declares that Israel has "pushed the button of its own destruction" by launching its military campaign against Hezbollah.

Jul 24  In Mumbai (Bombay) India the bombing of a commuter train has killed 197 passengers and crew. Eight hundred others are injured. Among those accused of the bombing is the fugitive leader of an Islamic student group, SIMI, said to be dreaming of returning the entire sub-continent to Islamic rule. According to Newsweek magazine, "Indian police think SIMI may have 500 hard-core members and as many as 20,000 sympathizers who can be relied on for assistance and shelter."

Jul 30  Israel has warned Lebanon's civilians to vacate Hezbollah areas and has been using its airpower against Hezbollah rocket launching. The Israeli bombing is killing Lebanese civilians. Israel claims it is aiming only at targets of military significance. Some are accusing Israel of a "disproportional" response.

Aug 1  In Iraq the deaths of civilians and policemen surged in July to 3,190, up from around 1,000 or less estimated for each of the months from January to June. (Iraqi Health Ministry, reported by the Washington Post, January 08, 2007).

Murat Kurnaz

Murat Kurnaz, presumably before he became a prisoner at Guantanamo, where he had no shave or haircut.

Aug 9  Prime Minister Olmert claims that Israel is fighting a Syria-Iran axis: the powers behind Hezbollah. 

Aug 10  British authorities claim to have broken up a plan to blow up a number of passenger airliners flying to the United States. Twenty-four young men are arrested.

Aug 15  After 34 days of fighting, a truce between Israel and Hezbollah goes into effect. There have been  around 1,000 Lebanese deaths, mostly civilians, and 159 Israeli deaths, mostly soldiers.

Aug 23  Amnesty International accuses Israel of war crimes and breaking international law by deliberately destroying Lebanon's civilian infrastructure.

Aug 23  After almost five years as a falsely accused prisoner of the US military, Murat Kurnaz, an ethnic Turk, returns to his home in Germany from Guatanamo Bay. Persons in Pakistan made money from a program that involved picking up suspicious persons and delivering them to the US military. From Pakistan, Kurnaz was taken to Afghanistan and thrown together with captured Islamic militants. His story is to be described by 60 Minutes and Wikipedia. He owes his freedom to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, who asked President Bush, face to face, for his release.

Aug 27  Today the BBC reports that the head of Hezbollah, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, says that he would not have ordered the capture of two Israeli soldiers had he known that it would lead to the kind of war that developed.

Sep 14  Amnesty International accuses Hezbollah of war crimes in deliberately targeting civilians in Israel.

Sep 20  Chávez of Venezuela delivers a speech to the UN General Assembly and refers to President Bush as "the devil."

Sep 25  In Nation magazine, Chavez's speech is described as having been received "with wild applause." The magazine adds that "When Bush spoke the day before, the General Assembly's hall sounded like a morgue."

Anna Politkovskaya

The late Anna Politkovskaya

Sep 31  In Iraq in September, the number of insurgent attacks each day have averaged 105 (Brookings Institute). US troops wounded in September: 776 (Washington Post). Iraqi civilian deaths: 3,345 (UN).

Oct 3  In France, well known intellectuals publish their support for Robert Redeker, a French philosophy teacher who is in hiding and under police protection after writing an article critical of the Prophet Muhammad. The group speaks of the teacher's fundamental rights of self-expression and decries the tendency in Europe to avoid "provocations" that anger Muslims.

Oct 5  Sweden's right of center government begins, after twelve years of rule by the Social Democrats. 

Oct 7  In Moscow, the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, a well known critic of President Putin and the war in Chechnya, is found murdered. She is the thirteenth journalist killed contract-style since Putin took office, in the year 2000.

Oct 9  China declares "resolute opposition" to North Korea's "brazen" nuclear test.

Oct 13  Britain's foreign minister, Margaret Beckett, says that detention at Guantanomo "without fair trial of prisoners is unacceptable in terms of human rights, but it is also ineffective in terms of counter-terrorism."

Oct 14  In India thousands of people have been attending mass ceremonies at which hundreds of low-caste Hindus (Dalits) are converting to Buddhism and Christianity.

Oct 17  The population of the United States reaches 300 million.

Oct 23  Two of the three people accused of plotting to steal trade secrets from Coca-Cola plead guilty.

Oct 25  The supreme US commander in Iraq, General George Casey, says it will take 12 to 18 months before Iraqi security forces are ready to take over in the country.

Oct 26  President Bush signs into law the Secure Fence Act, which calls for the building of 700 miles of fence along the US Mexican border. The bill passed by a large majority in the House and Senate.  

Oct 27  In Chile a  judge orders the arrest of Augusto Pinochet, for torture, murder and kidnapping during the early years of his regime, three decades ago.

Oct 29  In Oaxaca, Mexico, striking teachers, students and leftist activists have been demanding that the state's governor, Ulises Ruiz, be sacked for abuse of power. Federal police seize the city center, which the protesters have been occupying for five-months.

Oct 30  US Vice-President Dick Cheney claims that insurgents in Iraq have increased their attacks in order to influence the upcoming US mid-term elections.

Oct 31  US troops killed in Iraq in October: 110 (GlobalSecurity.org). Iraqi civilian deaths: 3,709 (UN)

Nov 1  Turkish archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig, 92, who specializes in the study of the Sumerians, is acquitted of inciting religious hatred, a charge made after she published a book stating that Muslim head scarves originated with Sumerian priestesses who initiated young men into sex. Her trial lasted one hour.

Nov 1  On the internet, reports have surfaced that hordes of young men harassed women at the end of Ramadan, that veiled and unveiled women were targeted. Shopkeepers rescued women and one is reported as saying, "There were hundreds of young men outside trying to break down the door." It is said that Egyptian newspapers did not report the incidents, and it is said that many young men in Egypt cannot afford to get married and that premarital sex is strictly forbidden.

Nov 3  Police in Oaxaca, supported by helicopters and armored vehicles, invade the local university campus, to which protesters withdrew after being evicted from the city center.

Nov 3  In Darfur, militias kill 63, many of them children.

Nov 7  In the US the Democratic Party wins a majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives, the new Congress to begin in January.  

Nov 8  A bomb blast outside an army training center in northwest Pakistan kills at least 42.

Nov 9  In Kyrgyzstan, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev gives in to more of the "tulip revolution" that he once led. He signs a new constitution that weakens his branch of government in favor of the legislative branch.

Nov 9  The UN releases a report that declares Norway, Iceland, Australia, Ireland and Sweden as the best five countries to live in. The United States is ranked eighth place, after Canada and Japan.

Nov 10  Scientists at Rice University discover a way with chemistry to reduce arsenic contamination of groundwater.

Nov 12  Israel says "as a last resort" it will launch air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. Iran's foreign ministry states that it would "retaliate with a crushing blow."

Nov 13  At a meeting in the White House, President Bush gives an hour long optimistic assessment of what is happening in Iraq. He is followed by his CIA director, Michael Hayden, who, speaking about Iraq's government, says that "the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible." Director Hayden adds that he cannot "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around." (Source: Bob Woodward, Washington Post, 13 July 2007.)

Nov 14  In Baghdad, gunmen wearing Iraqi police uniforms kidnap as many as 100 from a Higher Education Ministry building.

Nov 14  Indonesia and Australia sign an anti-terrorist security treaty.

Nov 14 South Africa's parliament passes a law that legalizes same-sex marriage.

Nov 15  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, son of the assassinated former president, wins 58 percent of the vote and is elected president – the first democratic elections since independence in 1955.

Pierre Amine Gemayel

Pierre Amine Gemayel, assassinated

Nov 18  In China the government blocks access to Wikipedia, less than one week after access had been allowed. 

Nov 19  In Tonga, a leader of the pro-democracy movement criticizes Australia and New Zealand for intervening in response to riots against authoritarian rule.

Nov 19 In a London television interview, Henry Kissinger says that a military victory in Iraq is no longer possible, "if you mean by 'military victory' an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country..."

Nov 21  Lebanon's Minister of Industry, Pierre Amine Gemayel, a popular Maronite Christian, is assassinated while driving in daylight in a Christian area of Beirut. He was driving a rented car to reduce the ability of assassins to spot him. 

Nov 21 An Israeli advocacy group claims that 39 percent of the land used by Jewish settlements in the West Bank is private Palestinian property. The group contends that construction of the settlements violated international and Israeli law guaranteeing the protection of property rights in the occupied territories.

Nov 21 Iraq and Syria renew diplomatic relations, broken in 1982 – a move by Iraq's government away from the United States and toward a political solution to the conflict in Iraq.

Nov 23  In what is reported as the deadliest attack since the beginning of the Iraq war, three suicide car bombs and two mortar rounds hit against Shia in Sadr City, killing at least 145 people and wounding 238 according to a first-day report. The attackers are believed to be Sunni.

Nov 24  The BBC reports that manipulating a single gene can create a new variety of wheat with enhanced protein, iron and zinc. The gene is said to be natural in wheat but was turned off during the domestication of wheat plants.   

Nov 26  As the sectarian violence continues in Iraq, there are isolated instances of Sunni and Shia neighbors trying to protect each other, and they fear being considered traitors – described in today's Washington Post.

Freedom go to hell

A welcome for Pope Benedict

Nov 26  Also in the Washington Post, an article by Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska and another boots-on-the-ground combat veteran who opposes President Bush's policies in Iraq. Hagel writes that "Iraq belongs to the 25 million Iraqis who live there. They will decide their fate and form of government." He calls President Bush's attempt to control Iraq "an arrogant self-delusion." He writes that there will be no military solution for Iraq. 

Nov 26 Thousands of Muslims in Istanbul protest the visit of Pope Benedict, complaining that he insulted the Prophet Muhammad, still confusing the Pope's views with the views of the 14th century Byzantine emperor he was commenting on.

Nov 28  Possible US presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks of Europeans "accepting elegant decay."

Shame in China

Shame in China

Nov 30  US troops killed in Iraq in November: 76 (GlobalSecurity.org).

Dec 1 The London-based Economist magazine declares Sweden as leading the world in democracy, followed by Iceland and the Netherlands.

Dec 5  France and Germany tell Syria to stop interfering in the affairs of Lebanon and they invite Syria to develop normal relations with the international community, particularly with the European Union.

Dec 6  In the city of Futian, in southwestern China, the police department parading prostitutes to shame them has brought a storm of protest and shame on itself for violating rights of privacy.

Dec 6  Saudi Arabia beheads a Pakistani man and his daughter for heroin smuggling.  

Dec 7 The massive sit-in in Beirut has been going on for a week. Its leader, the Shia cleric Hassan Nasrallah, vows to continue his campaign to oust Lebanon's Western-backed government, but he says his Hezbollah militia will not be dragged into a civil war. 

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein, hanged

Dec 12  President Ahmadinejad has told a conference in Teheran that "just as the USSR disappeared, soon the Zionist regime [Israel] will disappear."

Dec 18  Donald Rumsfeld resignation as US Secretary of Defense takes effect – a triumph for the strategy that has been urged by the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.

Dec 22  The New York Times reports that in Baghdad "at least 10 neighborhoods that a year ago were mixed Sunni and Shiite are now almost entirely Shiite." Shia families have been taking over homes that had been Sunni, and Shia are feeling more secure because of the Shia army – the Mahdi. Some in the Shia -dominated government are saying that the Americans should let the fighting run its course, that getting involved will prolong the fighting.

Dec 27  In the Shia holy city of Najaf, a raid by US and Iraqi troops have killed a "top deputy" of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, Sahib al-Amiri. Thousands of angry al-Sadr loyalists march through the streets of Najaf and shout "stooges" at Iraqi soldiers and local authorities.

Dec 28  A military force from Ethiopia drives Islamists out of the Somalian city of Mogadishu. Somalia's prime minister, Ali Mohammed Ghedi, an enemy of the Islamists, arrives in Mogadishu and is cheered by people who line the streets. Some others in Mogadishu are hostile to Ghedi and the Ethiopians. Ethiopia is ruled by Christians who recently responded to Islamist incursions into Muslim dominated border areas within Ethiopia.

Dec 30 Saddam Hussein goes to his death stoically. He curses "traitors," the United States and Iran, and is hanged.

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