Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke; he is replaced by acting prime minister Ehud Olmert (Jan. 5).
Militant group Hamas wins 74 of 132 seats in Palestinian legislative elections (Jan. 25).
Israeli leaders vote to withhold $50 million per month (Feb. 19).
A Danish newspaper challenges taboos against illustrations of Muhammad by printing several negative cartoons depicting him. Angry demonstrators throughout the Muslim world smash windows, set fires, and burn flags of Denmark and other nations whose newspapers reprint the cartoons (Feb. 4 onward).
In Iraq, a coalition of Shiites and Kurds dominates the new government. Secretarian violence wracks the country, killing tens of thousands, with fatality rates rising throughout the year; some observers describe the situation as a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Several internal reports characterize the U.S. military efforts as failing. See Iraq Timeline 2006. 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).
In defiance of the U.N. Security Council, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces that Iran has successfully enriched uranium (Apr. 11).
The International Atomic Energy Agency reports to the Security Council that it has found traces of highly enriched uranium at Iran's Natanz facility (July 31).
U.N. Security Council resolution bans the Iranian import and export of materials and technology used to enrich uranium (Dec. 23).
North Korea test fires missiles over the Sea of Japan (July 4) and explodes a nuclear device in the North Korean mountains (Oct. 9).
The U.N. Security Council votes in favor of a resolution banning the sale of materials to North Korea that could be used to produce weapons (Oct. 14).
North Korea agrees to resume disarmament talks with China, Russia, the U.S., and South Korea (Oct. 31).
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).
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).
Saddam Hussein is convicted of crimes against humanity by an Iraqi court (Nov. 5), and hanged in Baghdad. A witness videotapes the hanging using a cell phone and captures the chaos that unfolds as Shiite guards taunt Hussein (Dec. 30).