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10 images that captured 2023

With 2023 in our rearview mirror, here are some of the images that defined the tumultuous year: from Fulton County, Georgia to Gaza City,

Feb. 5: Spy Balloon Downed

Feb. 5: Spy Balloon Downed

Credit: Sipa USA via Reuters

Sailors assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2 recover a Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Feb. 5, 2023.

Feb. 10: Earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria

Feb. 10: Earthquake shakes Turkey and Syria

Credit: Umit Bektas/Reuters

An aerial view shows damaged and collapsed buildings in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Hatay, Turkey February 10, 2023.


March 23: France protests pension changes

March 23: France protests pension changes

Credit: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto via Reuters

Riot policemen stands amid clouds of tear gas as more than 70,000 people protest in Toulouse against French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to raise the national retirement age and change pension benefits. March 23th 2023.

May 6: King Charles III coronated

May 6: King Charles III coronated

Credit: Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

King Charles III waves as he leaves the balcony of Buckingham Palace, London, following his coronation, May 6, 2023.

Jun. 7: Canadian wildfires

Jun. 7: Canadian wildfires

Credit: REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

People ride bicycles at 6th Avenue as haze and smoke caused by wildfires in Canada blanket New York City, New York, U.S., June 7, 2023.

Aug. 24: Trump mugshot

Aug. 24: Trump mugshot

Credit: Reuters

Former U.S. President Donald Trump in a police booking mugshot released by the Fulton County Sheriff's Office, August 24, 2023.

Sept. 25: Milei’s chainsaw

Sept. 25: Milei\u2019s chainsaw

Credit: REUTERS/Cristina Sille

Argentine presidential candidate Javier Milei holds a chainsaw next to Carolina Piparo, candidate for Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires, during a campaign rally, in Buenos Aires, Argentina September 25, 2023.

Oct. 7: Noa Argamani kidnapped

Oct. 7: Noa Argamani kidnapped

Nova music festival attendee Noa Argamani reaches out to her boyfriend, Avinatan Or, as they are kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, 2023.

Oct. 9: Gaza’s children bombed

Oct. 9: Gaza\u2019s children bombed

Credit: IMAGO/Medhat Hajjaj/apaimages via Reuters

A child at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City rests after surgery, having been wounded in an Israeli attack. October 9, 2023.

Oct 23: Afghanistan's historic Cricket World Cup win

Oct 23: Afghanistan's historic Cricket World Cup win

Credit: ANI via Reuters

Hashmatullah Shahidi celebrates Afghanistan's victory against Pakistan. Oct 23, 2023

What will 2024 bring? Make sure to subscribe to the GZERO Daily newsletter to keep up.

GZERO 2023 music playlist

It was a bumpy year, so bump and groove your way into the New Year with our 2023 playlist! We scoured the charts from Buenos Aires to Beijing for songs that captured the zeitgeist, from Ice Spice to Fela Kuti — and make you wanna boogie.



Playlist tracks

Inflation - “Expensive shit” by Fela Kuti

French protests – “Paris is a bitch” by Biga*Ranx

West African coups - “Soldier Take Over” by Yellowman

Milei elected - “Desesperada” by Sara Hebe

European migration - “Desaparecido” by Manu Chao

Politics in general - “Liar’s Dub” by Max Romeo

Climate change failure - “Sogno otro mundo” by Apres la classe and Manu Chao

Struggle between Mexico government and drug cartels - “La People” by Peso Pluma

Nigerian election - “I Told Them” by Burna Boy

Xi Jinping wins historic third term as Chinese president - “Paint the Town Red” by Doja Cat

25th anniversary of Good Friday agreement - “Jackie Down the Line” by Fontaines DC

War in Ukraine - “Heart of Steel” by Tvorchi

Power Barbie - “Barbie World” by Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice

George Santos - “Banned in DC” by Bad Brains

UAW/SAG strikes - “Never Cross a Picket Line” by Billy Bragg

China economic weakness - “Made in China” by Higher Brothers and Famous Dex

Ukraine - “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush

Rise of AI - “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1” by The Flaming Lips

Colombia’s new drug policy – “Don’t Sniff Coke” by Pato Banton

US telling on India for killing Hardeep Singh Nijjar – “Exposing me Remix” by FBG Duck

Elon Musk unravels – “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies

Chinese spy balloon – “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell

Biden-Xi meeting – "Bad Idea Right" by Olivia Rodrigo

The Black Sea grain deal – "Is It Over Now? (Taylor's Version) by Taylor Swift

Biden runs for president (again) – “Never Gonna Give You Up” – By Rick Astley

Putin survives Prigozhin revolt -- "Houdini" by Dua Lipa

Putin to Lukashenko – “Lil Boo Thang” by Paul Russell

North Korea fires more missiles for attention – “I’m Just Ken” by Ryan Gosling

2023's biggest winners and losers in global politics

THE WINNERS

Putin

To be fair, things aren’t great for Vladimir Putin – NATO is still stronger, and his economy is weaker than it’d be if he hadn’t invaded Ukraine. But from a low bar, 2023 was a clear winner for the Russian strongman. Ukraine’s vaunted counteroffensive failed to impress, Western attempts to cap the price of Russian oil faltered, and even an insurrection by his warlord-in-chief only seemed to make him stronger. Putin heads into 2024 happily watching the US Congress squabble over further aid for Ukraine, and who knows, next Christmas might just come early for the Kremlin if Donald Trump can win the US election in November.

Trump

Speaking of which, at the top of this year, the twice-impeached Teflon Don looked like he’d be getting fitted for a prison jumpsuit rather than filing campaign papers. But the bevy of state and federal legal cases against him – some of which were hard for non-lawyers to make sense of – only fired up his base. As a result, he’s not only miles ahead of any GOP challengers for the 2024 nomination, some polls also show him outright leading Joe Biden, who has suffered with voters because of perceptions of his age, inflation, a migration crisis at the southern border, and his controversial handling of the Gaza war.

India

This year, India eclipsed China as the world’s most populous country, defended its title as the fastest-growing major economy, and even landed a spacecraft on the moon. At the same time, PM Narendra Modi used his country’s 2023 presidency of the G20 and his deepening ties with the US to position himself as a vitally important diplomatic bridge-builder between the wealthy G7 countries and the developing nations of the so-called Global South. Popular at home, increasingly influential abroad, and with a flag on the moon to boot, Modi – who faces elections in 2024 – has guided his country to a winner of a year.

Nicolás Maduro

It was a feliz 2023 indeed for the strongman of Caracas. Most of the world quietly stopped supporting his erstwhile rival Juan Guaidó (remember him?), and rising global oil prices forced Washington to rethink its financial stranglehold on Caracas, offering oil sanctions relief in exchange only for some spotty promises that Maduro will hold a free and fair presidential election next year (fat chance.) By the end of 2023, an emboldened Maduro was even feeling frisky enough to threaten to invade his neighbor Guyana.

People willing to play Golf in Saudi Arabia

At first, it seemed inconceivable. Surely the whispers about Saudi Arabia offering golfers hundred-million-dollar contracts to defect to the desert were just fairway gossip, right? But Riyadh made it real when the Saudi-backed upstart LIV Golf absorbed the 107-year-old PGA Golf Tour in June. Critics said the Saudis were just “sportswashing” away an awful human rights record, but supporters said it was time to bust the PGA’s stuffy old monopoly. Meanwhile, the greens look even greener as prize money grows, and even the last-place finishers in LIV tournaments can take home $120,000!

THE LOSERS

AI Cassandras

In March, Elon Musk and a group of artificial intelligence leaders published an open letter warning that AI systems posed “profound risks to society and humanity” and called for a “public and verifiable” six-month pause in “the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.”

It didn’t happen. Increasingly complex and powerful AI systems may indeed pose existential dangers for the human race (alongside their tremendous benefits), but a global pause in any form of technological progress – let alone one this pervasive, powerful, or flat-out entertaining – is impossible to enforce. For the Ancient Greeks, it was Cassandra’s fate to be ignored. But wasn’t it also her destiny to be correct? 2024 will be a huge year for AI.

Benjamin Netanyahu

The wily rightwinger returned to power in Israel late 2022 despite his ongoing legal troubles, but it’s been downhill since. All summer, he faced massive protests over his plan to weaken Israel’s courts. Then, the biggest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust occurred on his watch, prompting fierce domestic criticism of the failures of intelligence and strategy that enabled Hamas to attack on Oct. 7. Israeli society broadly supports Bibi’s stated aims of defanging Hamas and bringing home the hostages (two goals that may in fact be in conflict), but a majority of Israelis still want him to resign.

Migrants on the move

This year the political winds began to shift swiftly against migrants and asylum seekers seeking new lives in the world’s leading economies. In the EU, the number of migrants neared levels not seen since the Syrian refugee crisis in 2016, boosting anti-immigrant politicians and forcing the EU to tighten asylum rules in a long-debated migration policy reform. Meanwhile, in the US, record numbers of undocumented migrants crossed the southern border, empowering Republicans in Congress to hold up funding for Ukraine for tighter border policies. Expect tough talk on migration to play well in the EU Parliament elections next June and the US presidential election in November.

Imran Khan

The hugely popular former Pakistani Prime Minister – who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in 2022 – went from looking like he might sweep back to power in elections this year to being locked up in prison, forced to use an AI replica to get his message out. He was imprisoned in August on corruption charges that he and his followers say are bogus, and the elections that were supposed to return him to power were postponed until next year. His legal troubles may keep him off the ballot entirely. Still, he remains an immensely potent force in Pakistani politics, making a 2024 comeback impossible to rule out.

People who opposed coups in Africa

On the heels of coups last year in Mali and Burkina Faso, this year saw governments deposed in both Niger and Gabon. Niger’s democratically-elected government was overthrown by soldiers from the presidential guard in July. Similarly, Gabon military officers seized power in August, unseating the longtime president shortly after he was declared the winner of a contested election. The recent coups come amid a larger trend of increasingly frequent coups in the region – nine over the past three years – which have harmed economic well-being and raised concerns about regional security.

​The very biggest losers: Anyone who didn’t subscribe to the GZERO Daily Newsletter

A no-brainer right here. Anyone who wasn’t getting the Daily in 2023 lost out on the best daily dose of global politics that’s out there – delivered right to your inbox with insight, kindness, and humor. The good news is you can still subscribe – sign up here, and you’ll already be a 2024 winner before the year has even begun!


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