Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff
- Insurgents Continue Series of Attacks (May 1): At least 35 Iraqis die in bombings in Mosul and Baghdad. Insurgent attacks have intensified since formation of new government in late April. (May 4): At least 60 Kurds killed and more than 150 wounded when suicide bomber strikes in Kurdish capital of Erbil. Militant group Ansar al-Sunna claims responsibility. (May 9): In the biggest U.S. offensive in months, marines attack insurgents in western Iraq, killing about 100 of them. (May 11): Nearly 80 people are killed in attacks in three cities. (May 31): Violence during the month claims 80 Americans and about 800 Iraqis.
- Leaked Memo Creates Stir in England (May 1): The Sunday Times reports that a top-secret memo from July 2002 indicated that eight months before the Iraq war was launched, British foreign secretary Jack Straw acknowledged that “the case [for war] was thin.” Memo also says the U.S. wanted the war “justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
- Iran Says It Plans to Resume Nuclear Activity (May 3): Iranian official makes statement at conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. (May 25): Officials from Britain, France, and Germany persuade Iran to freeze nuclear activity.
- Iraqi Cabinet Sworn In (May 3): Six cabinet positions remain unfilled as Shiite and Sunni leaders continue to negotiate. Sunni vice president Sheik Ghazi al-Yawar boycotts ceremony over impasse. (May 7): National Assembly approves final six cabinet members selected by Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafar. One, however, Sunni Hashim al-Shibli, rejects the position of human rights minister. (May 10): National Assembly selects a 55-person committee to write a permanent constitution.
- Pakistan Captures High-Ranking Member of al-Qaeda (May 2): Officials say they found Faraj al-Libbi in Mardan. He is believed to have planned two failed assassination attempts on President Pervez Musharraf.
- British Prime Minister Reelected (May 5): Tony Blair becomes first Labour Party prime minister to win three successive terms. The Labour Party, however, is severely hurt in the elections, winning just 36% of the national vote, the lowest percentage by a ruling party in British history. Labour's majority in the House of Commons is reduced from 161 to about 60 seats.
- World Leaders Commemorate V-E Day (May 9): President Bush, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and dozens of other heads of state attend military parade in Moscow's Red Square marking the 60th anniversary of Germany's surrender to the allied forces.
- Anti-American Protests Turn Deadly (May 11): Four people killed in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when police and troops open fire on student demonstrators, who were protesting the reported desecration of the Koran by American guards at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. (May 12): Protests spread throughout Afghanistan and spill into Pakistan, killing at least 17 people. (May 16): Under intense pressure from the White House, Newsweek, which first reported the desecration incident, retracts the story. (May 25): FBI releases documents from 2002 and 2003 that include complaints by detainees at the Guantánamo Bay prison that interrogators abused the Koran. One complaint said guards flushed a Koran down a toilet.
- North Korea Says It Has Harvested Fuel for Nuclear Weapons (May 11): Officials continue to taunt President Bush and other world leaders with claim that country has extracted thousands of spent fuel rods, enough to manufacture up to three weapons.
- Violence Erupts in Uzbekistan (May 13): Gunmen, who charge prison in Andijon to protest allegedly rigged trial of 23 businessmen, release about 2,000 prisoners. Government troops use force to quell the uprising. Thousands of demonstrators unhappy with repressive government spill into the city square, and police fire into the crowds. More than 160 people are killed.
- Women Win Right to Vote in Kuwait (May 16): Parliament votes, 35–23, with one abstention, to change the country's electoral laws to allow women to vote and run for office in local and parliamentary elections.
- Military Officials Revise Assessment of Iraq War (May 18): Gen. John Abizaid says U.S. military involvement is likely to last for years and that a pullout of troops is unlikely any time in the coming year.
- Iraq Admits to Being Aggressor in 1980s War (May 19): Government blames Saddam Hussein for 8-year war with Iran and says he must face trial for war crimes.
- Iraqi Sunnis Form Coalition (May 21): About 2,000 Sunni Arabs gather and form an alliance to have a voice in Shiite-dominated government.
- German Leader Calls for Early Elections (May 22): After his Social Democratic Party faced a stinging defeat in Germany's largest state, North Rhine–Westphalia, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announces elections for the fall, a year earlier than planned.
- Bush and Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai Meet (May 23): The two leaders sign a new strategic partnership to fight against Islamic extremism, foster democratic institutions, and end the illegal opium trade in Afghanistan.
- Iraqi Shiites to Form New Constitutional Commission (May 25): Bowing to U.S. pressure, Shiite leaders say the 101-seat committee will include 15 Sunni Arabs.
- Amnesty International Releases Withering Report (May 25): In its annual report, watchdog organization paints a bleak portrait of the world's attitude toward human rights and singles out the United States as setting a particularly bad example. Report compares Guantánamo Bay prison to a gulag.
- Proliferation Conference Ends With Few Results (May 27): Little, if any, progress made at meeting at the UN to discuss ways to bolster Nonproliferation Treaty.
- French Reject European Constitution (May 29): French vote, 55%–45%, in a nationwide referendum against proposed constitution for European Union.
- Zimbabwe Begins Destroying Slums (May 29): President Mugabe orders bulldozing of shacks, workshops, and market stalls throughout Zimbabwe's cities in a program he calls “Operation Restore Order.”
- Son of Slain Leader Takes Lebanon Election (May 30): Coalition led by Saad Hariri, son of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, sweeps parliamentary elections in Beirut.
- French Prime Minister Resigns (May 31): Jean-Pierre Raffarin steps down days after France rejects referendum on new constitution for Europe. President Jacques Chirac appoints career diplomat Dominique de Villepin as prime minister.
- Russian Oil Tycoon Convicted (May 31): Court sentences Mikhail Khodorkovsky, founder of Yukos oil company and once the country’s wealthiest man, to nine years in prison after being found guilty of fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion, and other charges.
- Army Reservist Pleads Guilty in Abu Ghraib Abuse Scandal (May 2): Pfc. Lynndie England, the woman shown in several photos with naked Iraqi prisoners, pleads guilty to seven criminal counts. (May 4): Judge declares a mistrial after former army specialist Charles Graner, who was convicted in the scandal and is the father of England's son, testifies that the maltreatment of the prisoners was permissible, thus implying that England did not realize she was committing a crime.
- Court Strikes Down FCC Rule (May 6): In a unanimous ruling, federal appeals court says Federal Communications Commission exceeded its authority when it enacted the broadcast flag rule in 2003. The rule required computer and television makers to install in their new products a device that would restrict reuse of digital programs.
- Federal Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Cheney (May 10): In unanimous decision, court says Vice President Cheney was not obligated to disclose details of his task-force meetings that helped the administration draft energy policies.
- Senate Passes Military Funding Bill (May 10): Votes unanimously for $82 billion emergency spending bill, which includes $72 billion for armor, ammunition, and an increase in death benefits for soldiers killed in combat. Measure also includes changes to immigration law and new requirements to states in granting and renewing driver's licenses.
- Off-Course Plane Strays Near White House (May 11): The White House and the Capitol are evacuated when a Cessna 152 accidentally enters restricted airspace.
- Pentagon Recommends Extensive Base Closings (May 13): About 800 military bases, offices, and installations would be closed in vast restructuring. Job losses estimated at 26,000.
- Senate Passes Highway Bill (May 17): Votes, 89–11, for $295 billion legislation that aims to ease traffic and increase safety. Bush administration threatens to veto the bill, having budgeted $11 billion less.
- Senators Reach Deal to Avoid Filibuster Fight (May 23): A group of moderates agree to a compromise: Republicans say they will not move to change the filibuster rules, while Democrats agree to use filibuster of judicial nominees only in “extraordinary” circumstances. (May 25): Senate votes, 55–43, to confirm Priscilla Owen for a seat on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Before the compromise was reached, Democrats were filibustering her nomination.
- House Passes Bill to Expand Stem Cell Research (May 24): Votes, 238–194, to allow federal financing of embryos that have been frozen at fertility clinics. President Bush has said he will veto the legislation.
- Senate Delays Vote on Bolton (May 26): Maneuver by Democrats postpones vote on John Bolton as ambassador to the UN. Democrats insist that the White House hand over documents related to Bolton's conduct before it will allow the vote.
- “Deep Throat” Reveals Himself (May 31): In an interview to be published in Vanity Fair, W. Mark Felt, a former top FBI official, admits to being the anonymous source who leaked information to the Washington Post about the White House’s involvement in the 1972 Watergate break-in.
- Fed Raises Interest Rates (May 3): Federal reserve increases short-term interest rate by a quarter point, to 3%. It is the eighth increase in less than one year.
- Jobs Increase in April (May 6): Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 274,000 new jobs were added to the economy.
- South Koreans Report Success in Therapeutic Cloning (May 20): Researchers announce they have devised a new procedure to successfully produce human stem cell lines from a cloned human embryo.