2006 World History
- Coalition forces battle insurgents on the streets of Iraq, as secretarian violence intensifies; see Iraq Timeline 2006 for details (all year long). Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke; Ehud Olmert is named acting prime minister (Jan. 5). Iran breaks the seals on three of its nuclear facilities, after stating that it plans to restart work on its “peaceful nuclear energy program.” The U.S. and several European nations condemn the move (Jan. 10). After a year of silence, Osama bin Laden says al-Qaeda is planning to attack the United States. (Jan. 19). The Iraqi election results are released: a coalition of Shiites and Kurds wins 181 out of 275 seats in parliament, just shy of the two-thirds majority required to form their own government. Sunnis take 58 seats (Jan. 20). Militant Palestinian group Hamas wins 74 of 132 seats in legislative elections. Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei of the Fatah party resigns (Jan. 25). The U.S. Senate confirms Samuel Alito as a Supreme Court justice, and Ben Bernanke as chief of the Federal Reserve (Jan. 31). In his fifth State of the Union speech, President Bush denounces Iran, calling it a country “held hostage by a small clerical elite that is isolating and repressing its people” (Jan. 31). Republican John Boehner is elected House Majority Leader (Feb. 2). After a Danish newspaper prints cartoons depicting Muhammad in a negative light (later reprinted in several European countries), angry demonstrators throughout the Muslim world smash windows, set fires, and burn flags (Feb. 4 et seq.). Steven Harper becomes Canada's first Conservative prime minister in over a dozen years (Feb. 6). President Bush signs a law renewing the Patriot Act, including a signing statement stating that he does not consider himself bound by its requirement to tell Congress how the law is being used (Mar. 9). The Olympic winter games open in Turin, Italy (Feb. 10). House releases a report on the response to Hurricane Katrina, assigning blame on all levels of government (Feb. 15). The day after the Hamas-led Palestinian paliament opens, Israeli leaders vote to withhold $50 million per month (Feb. 19). Former Yugoslavian president Slobadan Milosevic dies of a heart attack in his cell in the Hague. His four-year war-crimes trial had been nearing its end (Mar. 11). The U.N. Security Council calls on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium (Mar. 29). Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist with ties to several members of Congress, is sentenced to six years in prison by a Florida judge on fraud charges (Mar. 29). Saddam Hussein is charged with genocide by an Iraqi court for a campaign against Iraq's Kurdish population in 1988 (Apr. 4). Representative Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) announces he will leave Congress (Apr. 4). After weeks of crippling student-led protests, French president Jacques Chirac repeals a new labor law that would have made it easier for employers to fire workers under the age of 26 (Apr. 10). Nepal's King Gyanendra reinstates Parliament after more than two weeks of demonstrations involving over 100,000 people. It meets for the first time in four years (Apr. 28). The International Atomic Energy Agency confirms that Iran has enriched uranium (Apr. 28). A federal jury in Virginia sentences Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison without the chance of parole for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (May 3). Bush administration announces plans to normalize relations with Libya (May 15). 55.4% of Montenegrins vote for independence from Serbia (May 21). George Bush and Tony Blair express regret for the abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison, for removing all Baathists from positions of power in Iraq, and for other missteps (May 25). The U.S. Senate rejects a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage (June 7). In response to an Israeli shelling of a Gaza beach that killed eight civilians, Hamas fires Qassam rockets into Israeli territory, ending a 16-month truce with Israel (June 10). Katharine Jefferts Schori chosen to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; she will be the first woman to lead a church in the Anglican Communion (June 18). Warren Buffett announces that he will donate 85% of his $44 billion fortune to five philanthropic organizations, with about $31 billion going to the Gates Foundation (June 24). Palestinian militants tunnel out of Gaza and into Israel, killing two Israeli soldiers and kidnapping a third. Israeli troops move into Gaza, disabling its only power plant, destroying three bridges, and seizing Hamas political leaders (June 25–29). The Supreme Court rules that military tribunals cannot be set up to try prisoners in the absence of Congressional authorization and that prisoners are entitled to fair trials under the Geneva Conventions (June 29). India test-launches a missile with a range of 1,800 miles (July 9). More than 200 people die and hundreds more are wounded when a series of bombs explode on commuter trains in Mumbai, India during the evening rush hour (July 11). Bush administration concedes that terror suspects are entitled to basic human rights and legal rights under the Geneva Convention (July 11). Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, fires rockets into Israel. In response, Israel launches a major military attack, sending thousands of troops into Lebanon. (July 13–Aug. 15). President Bush uses his veto power for the first time, striking down legislation that would have expanded the number of stem cell lines available for embryonic research using federal financing. (July 19). Former president Viktor Yanukovich is named prime minister of Ukraine (Aug. 4). The International Astronomical Union reclassifies Pluto as a dwarf planet (Aug. 24). Under pressure from members of his Labor Party, British prime minister Tony Blair says he will resign within a year (Sept. 7). Thai Gen. Sondhi Boonyaratkalin stages a bloodless coup and declares martial law (Sept. 20). U.S. Representative Mark Foley (R-Fla.) steps down from the House of Representatives after reports emerge that he had sent sexually explicit messages to teenage male Congressional pages. He had been the head of House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children (Sept. 29). International outrage and condemnation follows the test of a nuclear missile in the mountains of North Korea (Oct. 9). U.N. Security Council unanimously passes a resolution banning the sale of materials to North Korea that could be used to produce weapons and allowing authorities of other countries to inspect cargo entering and leaving the country (Oct. 14). The U.S. population officially reaches 300 million (Oct. 17). Pakistan military fires missiles at an Islamic school on the Afghanistan border, killing about 80 people who government officials say were militants. Officials also claim the school harbored members of al-Qaeda (Oct. 30). An Iraqi court convicts Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity and sentences him to death by hanging (Nov. 5). Democrats gain control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections (Nov. 7). South African parliament votes to legalize same-sex marriage (Nov. 14). Lebanese cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel, a critic of Syria, is assassinated. His father, Amin Gemayel, is a former president of Lebanon (Nov. 21). John Bolton steps down as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations when it becomes clear that he does not have enough votes in the Senate to win confirmation (Dec. 4). Ban Ki-moon of South Korea is sworn in as the secretary general of the United Nations. He replaces Kofi Annan (Dec. 14). U.N. Security Council resolution bans the Iranian import and export of materials and technology used to enrich uranium and freezes the assets of several individuals and companies that are active in nuclear and ballistic missile programs (Dec. 23). Gerald Ford, the 38th president, dies at age 93 (Dec. 26). Four days after an appeals court upholds his death sentence, Saddan Hussein is hanged in Baghdad (Dec. 30). On the final day of 2006, the number of U.S. soldiers killed since the start of the Iraq war reaches 3,000. Using the most conservative figures for confirmed deaths from Iraq Body Count, the number of Iraqi civilians killed since the start of the war exceeds 55,000; U.N. estimates are even higher. This summary omits most of the events in Iraq; those can be found at Iraq Timeline 2006.